Review: F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. Platform: PS3
Publisher:
Sierra Entertainment
Developer:
Day 1 Studios
Release Date:
4/24/07
Genre:
FPS
Players:
1-16

After an award-winning debut on the PC in 2005 and a successful port to the Xbox 360 late last year, F.E.A.R. has been deployed on its third platform, now landing on the PS3. Unfortunately though, Sierra Entertainment and developer Day 1 Studios failed to properly optimize the title for the PS3 hardware, and the result is a shoddy port of what is still an exhilarating shooter.

In F.E.A.R. you take on the role of the point man for a fictional special forces team specialized in combating paranormal threats to the U.S. government known as First Encounter Assault Recon. As the story opens, a military commander with a few screws loose named Paxton Fettel takes control of the Armacham Technology Corporation with an army of cloned super-soldiers that he is somehow able to command telepathically, and from there you and the rest of the F.E.A.R. team are called in to put an end to Fettel and his scheme, at the same time dealing with a creepy little girl who constantly crosses your path.

The narrative work here is quite strong — albeit a bit confusing at times — striking an engrossing balance between smart character development, hectic action and supernatural thrills and chills. F.E.A.R. oozes with atmospheric brilliance as well, be it the terrifying use of horror movie scare tactics such as ghostly figures suddenly popping up or the impeccable sound design that brings together unnerving ambiance, sinister music, exquisite sound effects and top-notch voice acting. To this day you’d be hard pressed to find even a few games with an audio package this impressive.

Every bit as engaging as the story and atmosphere is F.E.A.R.’s gameplay, which takes first-person combat to cinematic new heights. Being a straight port of a near-two-year-old game, this PS3 version still has the same flaws as the PC original, those being linear level design and lacking enemy variety (you are fighting clones after all), but just like before these are nothing more than minor blemishes on what is one of the most intense action games around.

Even if the enemies are largely the same throughout the entire game, the firefights in F.E.A.R. are every bit as challenging and unpredictable from the first to the last, due in large part to enemy AI that is easily among the most advanced in any game ever. Additionally, the weapons, though nothing innovative at all by any means (the usual pistols, shotguns, machine guns, etc.), pack a satisfying punch every single time you fire away and just have this powerful feel to them that not many shooters can match. Combine the blissful shooting with the bullet time-esque slow-motion mechanic and you get a game that depicts violence in a remarkably elegant style – it’s like a SlowMo ballet of death and destruction!

As chaotic and heart-pumping as the core F.E.A.R. experience is, Day 1 Studios left this PS3 port inexcusably unfinished. First and foremost, the game looks nowhere near as good as either the PC or Xbox 360 versions, and that is simply unacceptable given the PS3’s immense power. Compared to the other platforms, the lighting is noticeably subdued and the textures are kind of blurry and washed out on the PS3, and there also seems to be some aliasing issues that I don’t recall from playing on the other platforms. Graphics aren’t the only porting misstep either. The game also suffers from an unstable frame rate (which makes no sense given the muddy visuals) and frequently atrocious load times. F.E.A.R. PS3 at least has a solid control scheme, an exclusive bonus mission and action-packed 16-player online play (though there is no voice chat), but in large part every element of the game has taken a hit in the porting process.

For all the porting woes that it suffers from, F.E.A.R. does make it to the PS3 with its gameplay, story and sound intact, and because of this it remains one hell of an entertaining game. If the PS3 is your platform of choice and you’ve never played the previous PC or Xbox 360 versions, F.E.A.R. will treat you to a good time and is a game I suggest taking a look at. But if you have experience with its previous incarnations, F.E.A.R. on the PS3 will only frustrate and disappoint.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!