F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon (Director's Edition)

aka: FEAR: First Encounter Assault Recon (Director's Edition)
Moby ID: 19571
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Description official descriptions

This Director's Edition contains:

  • F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon
  • "Making of" documentary video
  • Developer's roundtable commentary video
  • Live action "declassified" Alma interview
  • F.E.A.R. Machinima episode created by Rooster Teeth
  • A Dark Horse Comics F.E.A.R. comic book

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Credits (Windows version)

256 People (206 developers, 50 thanks) · View all

F.E.A.R. is dedicated to the memory of
Senior Artist- World
Senior Artist/Animator
Artist- World
Art Director- 3D Coordinator
Art Lead
Senior Artist- Characters/Weapons
Lead Motion Capture Technician
Director of Audio/Sound Designer
Sound Designer
Level Designer
Creative Director/Lead Game Designer (and Script Writer)
Lead Level Designer
Software Engineer (and additional level design)
[ full credits ]



Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 33 ratings with 1 reviews)

Easily the best horror-FPS ever and a strong contender for best FPS ever

The Good
It could be argued that the single, defining characteristic of a great video game is: It breaks new ground and in so doing offers considerable improvement in gameplay and overall enjoyability compared to previous 'great' games. Innovation alone isn't sufficient, and sometimes (though not always!) great gameplay and enjoyability isn't. F.E.A.R. perfectly exemplifies this definition of 'great'.

But even if you don't necessarily agree with this argument, the graphics, physics engine, sound, weapons implementation, and AI ensure that F.E.A.R. is STILL easily the best horror-first person shooter (FPS) ever made and is a strong contender for the title 'Best FPS ever'...Yes, even compared to the pantheon of Halo, Half-Life(s), Far Cry, etc.

It's important to understand that the quality of F.E.A.R is hierarchical. The graphics and sound are as good if not better than anything I've ever seen, and the fundamental excellence here ensure that it will at least be a 'good' game. But this game goes a step further by using these qualities to accentuate the other qualities of the game.

Graphically, F.E.A.R. is top notch, with a few exceptions. The exterior environments are bland, especially compared to how City 17 'came alive' in Half Life 2. This is especially notable on helicopter rides during which you realise how little attention was paid to those parts of the environment you don't run through. The 'soft shadow' technology is also a bit poor compared to 'Chronicles of Riddick' and the character models are second to Half-Life 2. Aside from this, the graphics are superlative, especially the the lighting/shading engine which is superior to anything I've seen previously, including Doom 3. What really makes the game work is how at every step of the way, the graphics bring to life and accentuate the quality of every other aspect of the game. Obviously this costs system resources. Don't even bother trying to play this with less than a mid-to-high end system.

The physics engine is likewise superlative, easily the equal of Half Life 2, although it isn't incorporated as fully as HL2. Shockwaves from grenades, flying particles and bullet shells, bullet vortices, realistic damage modeling on the walls, and the 'bullet-time' effect are irresistible. These effects are brought to life by the amazing graphics engine. When you use the 'bullet-time' effect (which is well incorporated, if a bit hackneyed) you can see all of the chaos that the physics engine causes. Wildly-aimed rounds send showers of sparks or chunks of wall when they collide with other objects in the environments and the realistic damage-modeling system also extends to the soldiers you shoot. Put a couple of needle rounds into a guy's skull and he drops like a ton of bricks. Each of the effects is rendered without sparing a dingle detail by the aforementioned fantastic graphics engine. It ends up being an exercise in breathtakingly beautiful chaos. If you can, play without using bullet-time because the effects really come to life in real-time.

Although these are strong aspects of F.E.A.R., one of the qualities that sets it apart is its jaw-dropping audio quality. Every single sound effect is immaculate and the understated musical score has clearly been lavished with attention. The tinkle of shells, the crack of your weapon, the bullet time space-warping effect (ok, granted, this was done in Max Payne(s) as well), the sound of walls being mutilated, footfalls, the whine in your ears when a grenade blows up nearby, the communication chatter of the bad guys, and a myriad other juicy morsels of aural brilliance characterise this game. This is hardly an accident. The FPS genre NEEDS good sound effects to work, all the more so when you're playing a horror-FPS. Ultimately, the sound quality of F.E.A.R. makes it creepy, realistic, and utterly, perfectly engrossing. It brings to life the physics engine by attaching a great sound to each effect and puts flesh on the bones of the weapons code by giving them 'punch'. Playing the game with headphones illustrates this well; you'll be able to see why F.E.A.R. has arguably the best sound in an FPS...The sound here is an example of how this game uses innovation as a means to improve gameplay.

Another entirely unrivaled aspect of F.E.A.R. is the weapons. Partly, this is because of the quality of the sounds, graphics, and physics. The weapon models are just realistic enough to seem 'real' but are futuristic enough to be really cool! So if you like the weapons in Halo or Doom 3, you'll like these too. But what cements F.E.A.R's standing as 'best weapons ever' is the little touches. As in Halo, you can only carry a few weapons at a time. Like more good shooters, the more you shoot, the less accurate you are, but here, not only do you become less accurate, but your entire field of vision switches as well. Your gun moves in the direction of the recoil. It ends up being the most realistic weapon-action modelling system I've seen. If that's not enough, when a grenade explodes near you, not only do you hear a whine (as in Far Cry) but your character will stagger around a bit. Try shooting then! It's these little touches that put F.E.A.R ahead of the pack in terms of weapons implementation. Just another in which this game steps ahead of the 'competition' and in so doing improves gameplay dramatically.

Lastly, the AI is worthy of mention. F.E.A.R. has, hands-down, the best AI I've encountered in a FPS. Yes, even compared to the other greats. Examples are too numerous to list, but suffice it to say that the days of bad guys running right into your fire are over. This game sets the standard for AI, end of story. You'll need your 'bullet-time' ability just to survive and even then, if you're up against 5 or more guys simultaneously you'll probably die, lots. Throw in a mechanical, rocket-launching walker or two and we're talking about a SERIOUSLY hard game. It's difficult because your opponents are smart, not invincible or impossibly accurate. Of all the aspects of this game, the AI in F.E.A.R is the strongest compared to its august peers (e.g., Halo, HL2, etc.) and this game's innovation in AI has incalculably great positive effects on the gameplay experience.

The Bad
Graphically, there are some dull textures throughout and it gets a bit 'same-y'. As mentioned before, if you don't actually run through an environment, you can expect it will be rendered dully.

Another problem is that this game is COMPLETELY on the rails, just like Doom3 and HL2. If this game was as open-ended as much of Far Cry was, it would be ( in my mind) easily the best FPS ever made.

The plot is, well, an FPS plot. You have some 'suprises' along the way but they're fairly predictable as well. It ends well, if anticlimactically. The voice-acting is spotty at times but is largely very good, perhaps just slightly poorer than HL2.

The Bottom Line
In the end, there are several ways in which F.E.A.R. is a groundbreaking game: AI, sound, and weapons specifically. These innovations serve to positively impact gameplay, without exception. By this limited definition (which you may think is complete rubbish!) F.E.A.R. is a 'great' game. But even if you prefer another definition, it is easy to see how the graphics and sound alone in this game ensure that it's at least 'good'. The fact that the audio-visual quality is used to bring to life a superlative physics and weapons engine combined with the unbelievably good AI cement F.E.A.R's place as 'best horror-FP' in the pantheon of great FPS games and make it arguably the best FPS ever.

Windows · by Marty Bonus (39) · 2005


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Terrence Bosky.

Game added October 21, 2005. Last modified January 18, 2024.