F.E.A.R.F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon is a first-person shooter psychological horror video game developed by Monolith Productions and published by Vivendi Universal and the first game in the F.E.A.R. series. It was released on October 18, 2005, for Microsoft Windows, and ported by Day 1 Studios to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Timegate Studios has released two expansion packs, F.E.A.R. Extraction Point in October 2006 and F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate in November 2007. Both the expansions were ported to the Xbox 360 packed under the title F.E.A.R. Files. A direct sequel titled F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, was released by Monolith Productions in February 2009. A second sequel, F.E.A.R. 3, was released on 21 June 2011.
The game's story revolves around supernatural phenomena, one of which F.E.A.R. —a fictional US special forces team—is called to contain. The player assumes the role of F.E.A.R.'s Point Man, who possesses superhuman reflexes, and must uncover the secrets of a paranormal menace in the form of a little girl.
F.E.A.R. was released on Steam on May 21, 2010, and includes both expansions and the Director's Edition bonus content.
F.E.A.R. PlotThe story of F.E.A.R. is presented in such a way that only a few minor elements are revealed in the game's beginning, thus allowing players to experience the adventure as "... the hero in own spine-tingling epic of action, tension and terror". The manual briefly mentions the player character's recent induction as "Point Man" to F.E.A.R., a secret special ops group of the U.S. government specialized in dealing with paranormal threats. The character's extraordinarily reactive reflexes are described as well, hinting that the government is interested in his abilities. When the game begins, the player witnesses a man named Paxton Fettel taking command of a battalion of telepathically controlled clone supersoldiers, seizing control of Armacham Technology Corporation (ATC) headquarters, and killing all its occupants.
Now fully in control of the Point Man, the player attends a briefing held by Commissioner Rowdy Betters, in the company of his F.E.A.R. team-mates Spen Jankowski and Jin Sun-Kwon. The team's mission is to eliminate Fettel, operating in conjunction with the Delta Force.
Fettel is located by means of a satellite tracking device and hunted by F.E.A.R. and Delta Force over several locations. While the villain evades capture by the special forces, the player witnesses unexplained, and occasionally life-threatening, paranormal phenomena, including hallucinations that frequently afflict him, all of which revolve around a red-dressed little girl named Alma. Laptops found in the course of the mission, remotely hacked by Commissioner Betters, provide details regarding the background story; the player learns how Fettel was raised to become a telepathic military commander, that he is the son of Alma, who is described as being a powerful psychic as part of Project Origin, and the existence of another child of Alma, who was born before Fettel.
All clues lead F.E.A.R. to believe Fettel is under control of Alma, who was locked in the Origin facility when ATC closed down the project owing to the danger the woman posed; Fettel is searching for that same facility to free his mother. The player takes the Point Man to the abandoned structure, fighting back both the clone soldiers and ATC guards, who have received orders to cover up the whole affair. When the protagonist comes to finally face Fettel, he is drawn into a hallucination where the player learns how the Point Man is Alma's first son and is thereafter enabled to kill Fettel himself. The story does not end here, however, as Alma is nonetheless freed when her storage chamber is opened by ATC researcher and leader of Project Origin, Harlan Wade, who felt guilty over the company's treatment of Alma and who actually was her father. The player is then called to sabotage the structure's reactor, running a gauntlet against Alma's ghosts before the whole location explodes. In the aftermath of the detonation, a Delta Force Black Hawk helicopter extracts the Point Man from the rubble, rescuing him. While the player and the survivors of the F.E.A.R team survey the results of the explosion from the helicopter, Alma makes one last sudden appearance over the side of the helicopter, preparing to pull herself up into the cabin: the destruction of the Origin facility has not stopped her quest for revenge.
After the game's credits, the player can listen to a phone call between a mysterious senator and ATC president Aristide, which offers some further explanation: the woman considers the project under control and deems the "first prototype" a success.
F.E.A.R. GameplayF.E.A.R. simulates combat from a first-person perspective. The protagonist's body is fully present, allowing the player to see their character's torso and feet while looking down. Within scripted sequences, when rising from a lying position or fast-roping from a helicopter for example, or climbing ladders, the hands and legs of the protagonist can be seen performing the relevant actions.
A prominent gameplay element is "reflex time", which slows down the game world while still allowing the player to aim and react at normal speeds. As the player progresses through the game they will be able to pick up injections that will increase the amount of health, and reflex time they have. Reflex time is used to simulate the character's superhuman reflexes. Reflex time is represented by stylized visual effects, such as bullets in flight that cause air distortion or interact with the game's particle effects. F.E.A.R. lead designer Craig Hubbard stated that Monolith Productions' primary goal was "to make combat as intense as the tea house shootout at the beginning of John Woo's Hard Boiled." He continued on to say that "defeat ... enemies ... with style" was crucial to this goal and that reflex time plays a large role in "mak the player feel like they are an action movie hero."
The player character uses reflex time while firing on a group of soldiers.
The game contains weapons based on non-fictional firearms, such as pistols, assault rifles, and submachine guns, as well as entirely fictional armaments like particle beam weapons. Each firearm differs in terms of ammunition type, accuracy, range, fire rate, damage, and bulkiness. The latter characteristic is crucial, as more powerful/specialized weapons tend to be more cumbersome and slow the player's maneuvers. F.E.A.R. does not scale guns on a curve, so any firearm is potentially deadly in most situations. Monolith Productions stated that it aimed for "... a balanced arsenal where each weapon serves a specific function", rather than "... just going with a bunch of real-world submachine guns and assault rifles." F.E.A.R.'s heads-up display crosshair's size dynamically shows where shots will fall based on movement, aim, and the weapon in use. The player may carry only three firearms at a time; thus, strategy is required when using and selecting weapons.
Compared to other shooters where melee is usually a last resort, F.E.A.R.'s melee is a viable instant-kill alternative for taking down enemies. The stocks of all firearms can be used in close combat. Lighter weapons, while being less powerful, allow the player to move around more quickly, increasing their chances of melee. Movement speed is maximized if a player holsters their weapon, which also allows them to engage in hand-to-hand attacks with maneuvers including punches, kicks, and slides.
F.E.A.R.'s artificial intelligence allows computer-controlled characters a large degree of action. Enemies can duck to travel under crawlspaces, jump through windows, vault over railings, climb ladders, and push over large objects to create cover. Various opponents may act as a team, taking back routes to surprise the player, using suppressive fire or taking cover if under fire. The game's artificial intelligence is often cited as being highly advanced, and its efficiency helped the game win GameSpot's "2005 Best AI Award", and earn the #2 ranking on AIGameDev's "Most Influential AI Games."
ReceptionF.E.A.R. received mostly positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 88.94% and 88/100, the Xbox 360 version 84.19% and 85/100 and the PlayStation 3 version 73.29% and 72/100. The New York Times called it "as thrilling and involving as Half-Life." A "Director's Edition" DVD version of the game was also released. The DVD included a "Making of" documentary, a director's commentary, a short live-action prequel and the exclusive first episode of the promotional P.A.N.I.C.S. machinima. A related Dark Horse comic book was also packaged with the DVD. Along with the Director's Edition, F.E.A.R. Gold Edition was released. Gold Edition included the Director's Edition and Extraction Point. F.E.A.R. Platinum Edition features the original game and two expansion packs.
Prior to release, F.E.A.R. generated large amounts of hype from video game journalists. Upon release, F.E.A.R. received critical acclaim, with Computer Gaming World calling it "... one of the year's top single-player shooters ..." and PC Gamer regarding it as "... the first game to convincingly channel the kinetic exhilaration of 'John Woo violence' in the FPS format."
IGN claimed that "Monolith forges new shooter territory with some truly freaky elements, challenge, fun, and beauty." GameSpy praised the game's plot, later awarding it their "Best Story" Game of the Year award. The New York Times thought differently, stating "I was never quite clear on what was going on in the game. I knew my goal—track down a psychic, escort a corporate executive's daughter out of danger—but I didn't ever care who these people were nor did I understand their motives." The game has also received criticism for its system requirements, which called for an extremely powerful PC for its time.
The Xbox 360 port has also received positive reviews, almost as favorable as the PC version. The multiplayer and instant-action mode were praised for better gameplay, but the control scheme was negatively viewed. Reviews have also stated that it lacked bonus features, despite the new mission included in the game. GameSpot gave the game 8.6. while IGN rated it 9.1
The PlayStation 3 port received less favorable reviews than the other two versions, but still had positive reviews overall. It contained the bonus mission exclusive to the Xbox 360 port, but the chief complaints of the negative reviewers were downgraded graphics and long loading times. GameSpot has given the port a 7.1, making it the third lowest rating of the F.E.A.R. franchise in GameSpot
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