Author Topic: FEAR Map Mini-Reviews  (Read 3708 times)

Offline bobdog

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FEAR Map Mini-Reviews
« on: March 24, 2008, 12:40:41 PM »
With the news that both the "unofficial" sequel F.E.A.R. 2 and the "official" sequel "Project Origin" are in the works, I figured it was high time that I played the original, its first expansion, and any add-on maps available. I've always loved Monolith's games, and they've always provided a great atmosphere in whatever they tackled, especially the No One Lives Forever series that immediately preceded FEAR. However, NOLF just wasn't as successful financially as Monolith might have liked, so they opted to move on to FEAR and a new enterprise.

However, I don't think time has been as good to FEAR as Monolith might have wished. The concept of a mysterious super-soldier who may have some ties to the supernatural were certainly interesting, and mostly implemented well into the storyline for the original game. However, the gameplay itself was mostly tedious, consisting of primarily corridor crawls through warehouses, offices, abandoned buildings and labs. Having played the likes of Half-Life 2 and Far Cry, which came out at the same time or earlier, the interior linearity for FEAR just came across poorly compared to the open and varied paths one might take in these other games.

I was mostly bored: "Ho-hum -- another lab (none of which would make ANY sort of sense in a real-world situation as far as layout -- I'd fire the architects who designed these buildings!!) with closed gates. Wait, I get to go outside -- hey, something different!! Oh ... my bad, I have to go back inside again. Bummer…." And on and on.

Even the "suspense" and scares haven't held out well. The only real times I had a feeling of dread were when young Alma entered the elevator with the daughter, and when adult Alma approaches you in the final dream sequence, with that weird jump-editing you see in all the Japanese horror films. Although she's pretty hot as a naked adult who's been dead for a couple years now!  :onethumb:

I'd say the stand-outs were the invisible bug-men who pop out on several occasions, the abandoned buildings you traipse through in the latter half of the game, the ghosts who pop out at the end, and the smoke/particle effects that take place whenever there's a shoot-out. That was pretty cool, and felt somewhat realistic. However, the slow-mo thing was mediocre, and I've seen it done much better and cooler in Max Payne. I suppose the ability to augment your health and slo-mo skills was also acceptable, but we've seen it before.

I never really had that overall feeling of dread where I was scared to enter a new area or open a door, such as I've experienced in System Shock 2, parts of Vampire Masquerade, and most recently in the Penumbra games. Maybe because you are this super-soldier type rather than just a regular unarmed joe. So, the supernatural aspect just never percolated as far into the game as I would have hoped. My final score for FEAR: 3.75 out of 5 -- still a good game, but not as awesome as it was first pegged to be.

See Starfox's earlier review.

F.E.A.R. Extraction Point (Expansion Pack)
Hmmm, you don't seem to have much luck with rescuing hostages do you? First you let the Project Origin mastermind get whacked off, along with his daughter, and in EP your partner becomes a train wreck, and the other one … well, if you haven't played, I guess I won't spoil it for you.

Surprisingly, I liked EP better than FEAR. Maybe it was the change of venue, maybe it was because it was shorter, but it felt just a tad fresher in the gameplay variety. You'll go through a church catacombs to the sewers, where you eventually make it into a subway system and then into the medical facilities. The med labs and hospital actually gave me that sense of foreboding, with blood drenching the walls and ceiling, and the invisible ghosts coming after you. Although I didn't quite understand it -- was young Alma trying to help you? (She'd enter a room before you, and next thing you know, there's blood and body parts coating the walls.) And adult Alma was trying to harm you? (She knocked you off a ladder and did some other things to make it more difficult for you.) And what about Paxton Fettil? Did Alma raise him from the dead either knowingly or not? Many questions unsolved. Final score: 4 out of 5

At this point, only three add-on single-player maps have been made for FEAR, all available from PlanetPhillip. I guess it just never took off with modders, although there are quite a few more multi-player maps. I doubt we'll see any additional maps in the future, so here they are, in all their glory.

Operation Masada
This one took some time to configure, which automatically deletes points. The gameplay will have you infiltrate a bunker that Paxton Fettil has taken over. The design of the facilities was mostly believable, but the graphics needed some better optimization, as my screen turned into a slideshow on a number of occasions. The gamepath was not readily evident either, and you are tracked by an unkillable master-robot toward the end of the map which made things more difficult. Overall, not bad, as add-ons go, but still 3.75 out of 5.

Clone Crisis
You are again penetrating an Armacham facility to shut down a clone development center they have. Your path in this relatively short map takes you into an office building, where you will track down a keycard on a dead scientist, shut down the clone center, and then escape in a limited time before the building self-detonates. This is the only add-on to peer into your supernatural past as you enter a dream world on several occasions and have to tackle some ghosts. Not bad, so 3.75 out of 5.

This is probably the best of the three add-ons that have been developed for FEAR, as it has an interesting storyline accompanying it. It too seemed somewhat short, but your role as a FEAR agent is somewhat different from the original game, as FEAR in this world is the laughingstock of the armed forces and have to look into imaginary "boogeymen." You start in an abandoned house, but things quickly spiral out of hand as you encounter some tough resistance and a mysterious lab beneath the building. The ending comes too soon and is only slightly gratifying, but the level design and pacing were very good regardless. It would be nice to see a sequel to this map. 4.25 out of 5.