Saturday, 7 March 2009

The only thing we have to FEAR...

... is not FEAR itself.

Welcome to my rant.

First of all, brush up on Yahtzee's FEAR 2 review, and this Steam thread.

Now you know some annoyances to do with FEAR 2. Remove the references to controlling giant mechs, and the cover system. What remains is an accurate review of FEAR.

FEAR is not scary. At all.
Yes, there are moments that make you jump, but jumping does not equate to being scared. If you walk around a corner, not expecting to see someone, but you do, you jump. You jump out of surprise, you jump to get more distance between you and this sudden obstacle. You jump to get around said obstacle without any collision. Are you scared, though? No.

FEAR is, like most western horror, guilty of confusing actually being scared with being surprised. It relies on schlock horror - blood and gore, rather than things that are actually scary. When faced with a pile of dead bodies in the game, I am not scared. Rather, I think of a (not very) witty comment about it.
When I suddenly have an illusion of the main enemy appear next to me, I am not scared. I jump, and fire off a few rounds (on the grounds that so far everything I can shoot might kill me) and am then annoyed for wasting bullets. But not scared.
Some of the scares rely on you looking in a particular direction. Maybe I'm a good soldier, or a very bad one, but I tend to check every nook and cranny for things I can use or things that might try to kill me. Thus, when a scare occurs, I am investigating a potted plant, rather than looking in the room I cannot get a good view of yet, and thus the entire set piece is lost on me.

Basically, for a game called FEAR, the very name of which implies pant-wetting terror, it was very disappointing in the scare department.

Now, past the "scary" section, onto other criticisms. As you may have noticed, FEAR 1 has dynamic shadows (whereas FEAR 2 does not.)
It does this by using the Doom 3 engine, which I have to generally criticise on the grounds of being incredibly inefficient. When a lot happens on screen, my (quite high spec) computer lags. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't HL2 have dynamic shadows, too? Yet, HL2 runs as smooth as butter. Why? Because it's programmed better.
Yeah, okay, maybe the Source engine was too expensive/unavailable, but still... it is annoying when my computer has trouble running a 5 year old game, and yet no trouble running a more recent one.

Pretty much everything Yahtzee said is correct - potentially scary parts are interspersed with wild (and non-scary) gun fights, there are too many medkits, body armour sets, and guns to maintain any level of tension. Plus, the gunfights are reduced to using SlowMo, shooting what you can see, hiding, recharging, repeating. I became such a perfectionist that I would re-load if I got hit at all in rooms, and at most it would take me 5 attempts to get passed any given room. I wasn't playing on easy mode.

Finally, the story. It's clich├ęd, it's predictable, and it makes no sense. Throughout the game you have been attacked mainly by cloned soldiers led by a man called Paxton Fettel, sometimes by robots, and sometimes by ghosts.
Paxton is commanded by Alma, who has also tried to kill you multiple times, but has also managed to consistently wipe out any help you have by turning people into mush instantaneously.
Why not you?
Alma is often depicted as a small girl in a red dress, but was put in an induced coma while used for "Project Origin" and had no chance of a normal life anyway.
Okay, that's fine.
You and Paxton are her sons... Wait, why does she tell Paxton to kill everyone, and try to kill you?
Further to that, (this may be just in the expansions) she seems to protect you sometimes.
What?! She's trying to kill me, but also protecting me?!
The lead scientist says there's a scientific explanation for everything, but he thinks she's just annoyed. Oh, and she died 20 years ago...
What?! A person who died 20 years ago is communicating with people now, and easily murdering people... and you claim there's a viable scientific explanation?! That's beyond ridiculous. My suspension of disbelief can only go so far.

Seriously, guys. As the Eurogamer review said: You made "No One Lives Forever", you're better than this.

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