F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon

aka: F.E.A.R., FEAR: First Encounter Assault Recon
Moby ID: 19787
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon is a horror first person shooter (FPS) that resembles a cross between Doom 3, Half-Life, and the Ring horror movies. Demons are replaced by cloned soldiers and the element of horror revolves around an image of a spectral girl always appearing when least expected for a few fleeting moments.

The player sets out as a member of a specialized strike force dealing with unknown threats. Initially, the player starts with mundane weapons, which are well presented, and progress gradually towards more sci-fi ones as the danger increases. The player can also call upon a bullet-time ability which slows down time around the player and is realised with impressive visual and aural effects by the game engine.

The game takes place in a certain multi-billion aerospace installation which has been hijacked by an elite team of cloned soldiers gone rogue and an unknown supernatural force (which is likely controlling or affecting them in some way). Both threats must be identified and countered.

Spellings

  • 恐惧 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

310 People (251 developers, 59 thanks) · View all

Senior Artist, World
Senior Artist/Animator
Artist, World
Art Director, 3D Coordinator
Art Lead
Senior Artist, Characters/Weapons
Artist/Animator
Lead Motion Capture Technician
Director of Audio/Sound Designer
Composer
Sound Designer
Level Designer
Creative Director/Lead Game Designer (and Script Writer)
Lead Level Designer
Software Engineer (and Additional Level Design)
Senior Software Engineer, AI
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 78 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 156 ratings with 7 reviews)

Do You F.E.A.R. Me?

The Good
Uber developer, Monolith, has a long track record of high quality games. From the Doomesque, Lovecraft influenced FPS‘, Blood and Blood 2: The Chosen. To the zany spy shooters No One Lives Forever, and it’s sequel. Recently Monolith has gone back to it’s horror game roots, with the trailblazing horror series Condemned. And it’s “sister” franchise F.E.A.R.. Can Monolith strike gold yet again?

F.E.A.R., or First Encounter Assault Recon, is an elite group of soldiers trained to deal with the paranormal. You play as the newest member of the squad, a mysterious character with uncanny agility and strength, known only as the “pointman”.

“It is the way of men to create monsters. And it is the nature of monsters to destroy their creators.”

When the psycho killer, Paxton Fettel, escapes from his high security prison, F.E.A.R. is contacted to stop him. It seems that Fettel has some kind of psychic link with replica soldiers, these automatons will do anything to stop you. They feel no fear, no remorse, and cannot be reasoned with.

To make matters worse you keep seeing the ghost of a little girl in a red dress. And there is trouble at the arms manufacturer Armacham and something called project origin, can there be a connection?

F.E.A.R. is a first person shooter, with horror elements.(Like Half-life, or System Shock-MM-) And it can be quite creepy and unsettling, but it’s not quite as scary as say, Condemned. This is achieved largely by the great atmosphere.

There are lots of scripted scares. Including a really cool sequence with the pointman being haunted by a former F.E.A.R. agent. There is also the System Shock esque, use of messages you hear on answering machines, these help fill in the story and can be quite creepy.

I would like to now take the time to set the record strait on one of the biggest misconceptions of F.E.A.R. Every tom, dick, and harry, says that F.E.A.R. is like a Japanese horror movie. When it’s really not. The only element that is like a Japanese horror movie is the ghost of the little girl, but unlike crappy movies like “Dark Water” it actually makes sense in F.E.A.R. Furthermore this game is actually scary.

It also takes techniques from American horror films, namely John Carpenter films such as, Halloween. And even Italian and French horror films.

“You will be a god among men.”-Harlen Wade-

The graphics in F.E.A.R. are good. Not great, just good. Keep in mind that this game was released initially in 2005 for the PC, and a launch game for the 360. It looks better in HD, but it’s no Bioshock or Mass Effect.

The sound department is really were it’s at in F.E.A.R. The voice acting is all top notch. And the music is eerie and helps establish the mood. The gun effects are all accurate and sound great. But it is the creepy sound effects that steal the show, from the cues when you see something strange, to the screams and cries of the damned.

The Bad
The difficulty settings seem to be a bit askew. Easy offers almost no challenge, Medium is oft to hard, and the other two settings are just about impossible.

The auto aiming is dubious at best, and unnecessary. The critical attacks are very cool however.

Sometimes you can get stuck in walls. And even worse there is a bug where your guns disappear, and you must load to correct it.

I am also not a fan of the checkpoint save system. I prefer the good old days when you could save whenever you wanted. Or at least meet me halfway and have manual and autosaves. With this checkpoint nonsense, you can only quit when you get a checkpoint.(Thanks a lot Halo.-MM-)

The Bottom Line
“He deserved to die, they all deserve to die.”-Paxton Fettel-

Overall F.E.A.R. is a great game. And one of my favorite FPS games. It has the perfect mix of action and horror. Now I’m off to play the two expansions Extraction Point, and Perseus Mandate. And I am already looking forward to 2009’s Fear 2: Project Origin.

Xbox 360 · by MasterMegid (723) · 2008

True love

The Good
The story in this game is very interesting to me and mostly because the back of the box gives the impression you are just going to play a generic shooter with a very flimsy (perhaps nationalistic) story-line tagged unto it, the kind of game that would only be remembered as "another multi-player shooter", but actually explodes almost immediately. After wrapping your head around all the psychic stuff (I admit that it can be quite confusing) you'll find yourself playing as the silent Pointman who discovers the dark truth behind the Armacham's corporations military research as he tries to stop psychic commander Paxton Fettel from taking over the city with an army of cloned soldiers.

The graphics were amazing for 2005 and most of the people who actually gave this game a negative score on sites like Metacritic (bless Mobygames) were just angry because the game wouldn't run on their dated computers. While Monolith designed gray corridor after gray corridor and made sure there were lots of flickering lights, they decided to make it the most sophisticated gray-corridor shooter to date with great effects and lots of blood to add a little color to the grayness.

I wasn't really scared while playing this game, but I still like the horror part of this horror/fps a lot. One of my favorite moments was when Alma Wade appeared briefly and jumped into a small pool of water that I had to cross, you can't believe how quick I ran through that water, fearing that she might jump up and instant kill me if I lingered. There is little to no repetition as well, which is always good because seeing the same thing over and over again is going to lose it's touch really fast.

I can't seem to stop thinking about the main antagonist. without wishing to spoil anything: I can't seem to decide if he/she was in the wrong or if the unit I am working for is helping the people who deserved to be punished for their deeds. This feeling is well played on by Monolith because the story tends to be very neutral as well, not picking any sides or telling you who you should like and dislike. Alma is there to scare you, but she never physically harms you and often shows you the way to go, Genevieve and her servant where both the reason why stuff's gone wrong, but they also tried to solve it and in the end did tell you how to continue your journey and of course Harlan Wade did some horrible things, but he also sincerely tried to make up for what he has done and start over.

Graphics eventually date, unless you go with an animated style your realistic graphics will be topped by every game that will be made just two years later, so the graphics in F.E.A.R. are no longer a good argument when trying to discuss this game with a Call of Duty fan. What is a good argument, you ask?, well the AI is. In F.E.A.R. the enemies respond to your every move; they yell when they see your flashlight or hear you walk, they take cover when you suppress them and they flank you every chance they get. Enemies also take more damage then they do in most recent games and they aim pretty damn well.

The Bad
The weapons are all uninspired and simple. They don't have any special or secondary functions. This makes it hard to understand the difference between two guns, which only makes it weirder that they got so many of them. Just take one weapon from all the different weapon types and roll with that.

The level design is pretty much corridor after corridor, with two corridors often meaning there is a fight up ahead and that you can get the drop on the enemy. I can understand that though, if the battlefields were more open and non-linear it would be very hard to also have the strong AI, but it's still a flaw.

The Bottom Line
I really, really, REALLY love this game and because of that it's easy to look past the flaws I mentioned. The story is very interesting and even after so many years I still can't stop thinking about certain things that happened in it and who was "in the right". The AI is a lot of fun to fight and the horror is actually scary which were the two big selling points of this game.

You will notice the flaws, they affect gameplay and trouble you, but it never got so bad that I wanted to stop playing for a few days. This is a game I can recommend without any doubts, if you are old enough to play it then you should really check this game out and perhaps laugh at how easy we were impressed by graphics in 2005.

Windows · by Asinine (956) · 2011

Go buy a new PC, then enjoy

The Good
About F.E.A.R. you can say without any doubt, that it is the best FPS of its year. Yet this is not only a FPS, but also a very capable terror game. With the excessive proliferation of videogames in the FPS genre, it is always welcome when, at least, they try to do a thematic FPS, rather than just design another FPS based on killing aliens or soldiers from WWII till nowadays soldiers. F.E.A.R., FEAR for friends, is not specially original, as you kill nowadays soldiers, but, at least, the gameplay is surprisingly good and the terror script helps making you forget that you are playing another repetitive FPS.

This game places you in the role of a SWAT-like police of some paranormal division, called F.E.A.R.. As silly as most of the FPS game are, you seem to be the best of all in the department and everyone knows that you can do this alone and with a hand tied to your back. There are actually a couple of coop missions, and both remain coop for less than a minute. Of course, as a division specialized in paranormal incidents, you should expect more than just fighting some criminals...

What makes this game so playable is that action scenes are very intense. The key to this is based in a powerful AI engine, very spectacular explosion and shooting graphics, a great amount of well designed gore, a very useful slow-mo mode (sound slows in real time, enjoy it) and a voice acting that couldn't be better.

Every time you breaks into some fight, you are about to enjoy probably the more realistic close shooting combat simulation that you will find in any videogame. For every hit in the attrezzo, there will be some reaction and after some shots from both directions, the screen will be full of floating dust, and paper and cardboard pieces, and wait until you see the super cool explosion effect. After everything is finished you will see all kind of boxes and objects lying on the ground, walls filled with very realistic bullet hits and a lot of blood scattered all over the room. If you do things with more cold blood, you can hear how the soldiers communicate as a well prepared commando, explaining to the others how is the situation in their post and what is the intruder (you) doing in that moment if they have already noticed you. And wait to hear these guys screaming every time you hit them, I would really develop moral problems playing this game if they weren't clones created just to kill -as some side note, you will kill like 200 soldiers that look exactly the same; the "clone excuse" makes it a bit less silly than in the average videogame-; they also receive bullets in realistic movements and even limp if you hit them in the legs. They also shoot backwards while escaping from you, they shoot blindly without exposing themselves, they jump through windows and they have phrases for every kind of situation like "he is trying to flank us" or "he is behind that pipe".

Yes, the AI is superb (there is a trailer about it, very recommendable), the voice acting can't be better, the levels react very realistically to all shooting and explosions and you will feel every hit you make to your enemies. It is, of course, a difficult game, and if you don't use cleverly the surprise factor you will be in some difficulties. But what turns the advantage to your side is the slow-mo bar, that works pretty much like in Max Payne, except that you have no special movements and you are not faster than the others, it's just that everything goes slower. Actually you will do most of the killings in slow-mo, as you have more than enough slow-mo bar.

And yes, there is more than frenetic combat in this game, there is terror too. If you have seen the trailer you know what this is about, while wandering through different scenarios there will be some poltergeist and some events of ghostly nature that I wont spoil, as this is the second biggest feature of this game. To enjoy the best, raise the volume and turn off the light.

And the final scene (not the one in the helicopter, the previous one) is awesome. I wont tell you what it is, but I think it's the first time you can experience this in a videogame, at least in first person.

Oh!, I almost forget, and how cool is to kill an enemy with a flying double kick? Answer: Awesome cool!!, XD. That reminds me that the game has a multiplayer mode too.

The Bad
The bad points in this game are basically two: its length and the super-duper graphics.

It's too long, and this fact ruins greatly its better features. As I said, the combat is very intense for many reasons. You will fight group after group of soldiers without finding it repetitive at all during a large percentage of the game, and when you get bored of the soldiers, you will fight some other kind of enemies (well, nearly 90% of the enemies are soldiers). And I must remark the good work they've done with the lines of the soldiers, you will barely find them repetitive. But the game is so long, that by the middle of the game you will scream "no more soldiers please", and from them on, you will start hating more and more the combat scenes.

The length of the game also affects the horror mood of the game. It is easy to realize that during many levels after the introduction ones, the terror part of the game nearly disappears, and you barely get scared until the last part of the game. And about the creepy moments, the more you experience the less terrifying they are. This is a very endemic feature of FPS games and particularly of terror games, the lack of detailed design after the introductory levels. It happens too in Doom 3, very detailed at the beginning and with a lot of scripted action around the main character (remember the mirror scene?) and suddenly the game transforms into an average and repetitive FPS, and becomes no more terrifying. As a counter example, if you don't understand what I mean, there would be Max Payne, where most of the combats have some short of context and story around them, from the beginning to the end of the game.

Going on with the terror factor of the game, you must know, that you better don't play this game because of it. It works very well at the beginning and at the end, but you will begin not feeling terrified at all and predicting where the creepy moments will happen. I also must advice you that this is another rip off of the "era of terror" of "the ring", yes, there is this typical little creepy girl with black long hair that is a constant in Hollywood terror films in the last three years.

About the graphics. Yes, about the graphics! Following the tradition, a hardcore FPS needs a graphics card melting engine. The graphics are so good that you will enjoy each and every frame as you will have time to enjoy them, if you know what I mean. I played it in a 3700+ with a Radeon 9700 Pro mobile (in a laptop), and I must be thankful to the slow-mo mode which made the game playable. You better play in a last generation Graphic card if you want to enjoy it with shadows, and the last of the last if dare to use high quality shadows or lighting. With less than that it doesn't worth it, particularly, you can't play a terror game without shadows (in the second part is not a big loss).

Still there are some other minor things you may find bad done. For example, the soldiers seem to through grenades randomly, and eventually they'll kill themselves with them. The physics (mechanics, better said) engine is very annoying, too, you will find yourself hitting every object of every desk in the game (maybe is a part of the terror factor, ;)), and after they are out of their zero position they'll start jumping randomly. And don't try fixing it in computer settings, I didn't find any difference changing computer settings through its 5 levels.

Oh!, and you'll hate that fat bastard NPC, you'll see what I mean.

The Bottom Line
If this game were 5-10 level shorter it would be the perfect FPS experience. If you are planing to play to enjoy a good terror experience, you can play the first 10 levels and then use some save game of a friend to play the last 10. In any case, this game is technically a number one and you should try it if you are not to saturated of FPS games and if your video card can take it.

Windows · by MichaelPalin (1414) · 2006

[ View all 7 player reviews ]

Trivia

1001 Video Games

The PC version of F.E.A.R. appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

ATC

Armacham first appeared in Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, and it might be that the F.E.A.R. universe is somehow connected to that series. In Shogo, Armacham manufactures the Ordog Advanced Series 7 Mobile Combat Armor.

Console version

In the console versions, blood textures on killed characters and the environment were removed. For the Xbox 360 version, this was later revoked with a patch.

Development

The game was originally going to have a car chase scene and even had extensive drafting during the development. However, it was removed during further development, as in the words of Craig Hubbard, "It didn't work out the way we hoped it would." The car originally used for the chase sequence did make it into the final game, though in limited capacity: it is the same vehicle that the character Rowdey Betters drives the protagonist into the first level with.

Douglas Holiday

The Delta Force operative Douglas Holiday was originally going to be a member of the F.E.A.R. Team. This can be seen in pre-release trailers and promotional pictures of the game.

German version

In the German version, all gore effects and the skeleton after killing an enemy with the energy weapon were removed. Enemies still bleed when being shot, but the blood does not spray on the environment.

Inspiration

F.E.A.R. is heavily inspired by Japanese horror films like Ringu (The Ring) and Ju-on (The Grudge). For instance, the mysterious girl with long black hair is obviously channeling Samara from The Ring.

Online servers

The game's online servers which were hosted on GameSpy were shut down on 5 December 2012.

P.A.N.I.C.S.

To promote the game prior to the release, Vivendi Universal sponsored a machinima viral campaign called P.A.N.I.C.S. - produced by BeSeen Communications and Rooster Teeth Productions (famous for Red vs. Blue).

The title is short for People Acting Normal in Crazy-ass Situations and it was a series produced utilizing the machinima technique generated by the F.E.A.R. game engine. The story offers a humorous look at the escapades of Bravo Team as they face off against an unseen, supernatural opponent. In addition to the four installments released to the public, a fifth "prequel" episode was included as a bonus feature in the Director's Edition.

The series was awarded with the "IFCTM Award for Excellence in Machinima Screenwriting" sponsored by the Independent Film Channel and nominated for two other awards at the 2005 Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences Film Festival, including Best Series and Best Commercial Machinima.

References

  • During Interval 6, at a security checkpoint where you first encounter a particular enemy, look for a letter on the desk. The letter in question, is addressed to Monolith Productions, the developer of the game.
  • A long-running joke in the No One Lives Forever series was the fact that in neither game it was revealed what H.A.R.M. actually stood for, even though it was referred to plenty of times ("Remember what H.A.R.M. stands for!"). In F.E.A.R. one can see the H.A.R.M. logo on a sign on a warehouse wall early in the game, with the words "Heater And Refridgerator Manufacturing" printed on it.
  • The name of the character Jin Sun-Kwon may be a reference to the name of the Lost TV series characters Jin-Soo Kwon and Sun. It is also notable that both characters from the TV series and the one from the game are Koreans.
  • Throughout the labs in the Armacham HQ and the Origin facility, one can see many "8311 XHT" model fume hoods. This could be a reference to the 1971 science fiction film THX 1138.
  • A. Shephard, a Delta Force coordinator who is only heard through radio transmissions, was likely named so as a nod to Adrian Shephard, the protagonist of Half-Life: Opposing Force.

References to the game

In the sitcom The IT Crowd, the character Moss is playing F.E.A.R. on the computer.

Technology

F.E.A.R. is possibly the most graphically-intensive commercial game (as of November 2005) yet. It has replaced Doom 3 as a popular benchmarking tool for companies testing new graphics cards.

Of course, all this is to the chagrin of the ordinary gamer. Some people have suggested that "FEAR" stands for F***ed Engine and Requirements.

Vending machines

Some of the vending machines that appear in the game are the exact same ones that are used in Monolith's other games: No One Lives Forever, Condemned: Criminal Origins and Condemned 2: Bloodshot.

Weapons

Many firearms in the game have a real-life counterpart. The RPL SMG is based on the MP5, the VK12 Combat Shotgun is based on the SPAS-12, the AT-14 Pistol is based on a version of the HK USP, the G2A2 Assault Rifle is based on the HK SL8 and the ASP Rifle is an analogue of the Tavor TAR-21.

Awards

  • 4Players
    • 2005 – Best Action Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Most Impressive Boss of the Year (for Alma)
    • 2005 – Best AI of the Year
  • PC Powerplay (Germany)
    • Issue 04/2006 - #4 Action Game in 2005 (Readers' Vote)

Information also contributed by CaptainCanuck, dasfatso, Medicine Man, Neon Hammerite and Sciere

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Silverblade.

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Sciere, Maw, Medicine Man, Patrick Bregger, Plok, FatherJack, WONDERなパン.

Game added November 2, 2005. Last modified March 4, 2024.