By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on October 13, 2017
Here we are, back in the Big Red HQ! It took me quite some time to get back, seeing as how my prototype Big Red Timemachine started acting up in the middle of my last trip. Furthermore, it have been a stressful couple of weeks, because something's definitely... off somehow. Sure, I'm back in what seems to be a perfectly operating Big Red HQ, but something doesn't quite feel right. Sure, these are the same walls I painstakingly built with the help of my own two hands... and a force of slave... ehm, well-paid and enthusiastic workers, but it doesn't quite feel the same...
What disgruntled me most, was the fact that Elvis, yes the one and only King of Rock 'n Roll, doesn't seem to want to be friends with me any longer!, I mean, come on, I have known the guy since he was but a small fish in the huge ocean of kick-ass music. Hell, I even introduced him to Sam Philips, for crying out loud! And now, he doesn't even want to talk to me anymore... Talk about a Heartbreak Hotel!
But, enough of my troubles; you guys came here for a glimpse into the history of gaming and that is what you are going to get! I tried to work out what went wrong on my last trip and I hope I've got the problem solved... So, let's buckle up and set a course for 2005. We will delve into a world, filled with supernatural dangers and learn the true meaning of being afraid. So, without further ado, may I introduce: F.E.A.R.
First Encounter Assault Recon, or F.E.A.R. for short, was released for Microsoft Windows by Monolith Productions and Sierra Entertainment in October of 2005. It was subsequently ported to the Xbox 360 in 2006 and to the Playstation 3 in 2007. This Survival Horror / First Person Shooter masterpiece put the player squarely into the combat boots of "Point Man"; the silent protagonist of the game. It is your job to eliminate Paxton Fettel, a villain with Psychic powers, who has just taken over an entire battalion of highly advanced and experimental soldier clones. Fettel can telepathically control these soldiers, making them do his bidding. Of course, this much power is unfit for one man to wield and you are sent in to... well... relieve him of this power, so to speak.
So, you track down Fettel at the Armacham Technology Corporation Headquarters and the hunt begins. What they didn't tell you at the briefing, however, is that you will not only be battling cloned super soldiers, but also strange and frightening paranormal phenomenon that make you question your own sanity from time to time. The most of these hallucinations seem to be centered around a little girl who, as you find out when you progress through the game, goes by the name of Alma. Ah, what the hell? How much damage could one little girl do, right?
As you make your way through the storyline, you will find laptops that provide you with more and more information about what Armacham and the military have been up to. It seems that Fettel's ability to control telepathic soldiers is no accident. No sir, instead, he has been trained as a telepathic commander, leading us to think there is more happening than meets the eye. Further investigation raises the suspicion that somehow, Alma is controlling Fettel and he is nothing more than another puppet, just like the soldiers under his command. Also, there is evidence that says Alma is actually Fettel's mother, and that she had another son, who was born even before Paxton Fettel first saw the light of day. Hmmm, who could this mysterious son be, I wonder...
Instead of being just another First Person Shooter, F.E.A.R. relied heavily on the use of a thrilling story with many twists and turns, as well as on the horror element, incorporated through the use of disturbing hallucinations, which the player will go through at certain points of the game. I personally liked the fact that, at times, the screen would get distorted and the sound would go somewhat "wobbly", denoting that maybe, just maybe, something awful was about to happen. The best part of this, being that it didn't always lead to a hallucination or something like that. It just freaked you the hell out, just thinking that something could happen.
The gameplay was really phenomenal! You, as Point Man, were able to use a variety of both existing and non-existing weapons. Next to that, you could actually, and really effectively, make use of melee combat. If you had your weapon drawn, the butt of said weapon would usually be used as a weapon. If you holstered your weapon, however, you were able to make use of a whole range of moves, which all came in very handy in close quarter combat. Due to the fact that you were a skilled soldier, these attacks were often of the "one hit, one kill" variety, making them a very, VERY useful addition to your arsenal. Another thing that made the shooter action in F.E.A.R. so enjoyable, was the "Reflex Time" mechanic. What this basically did, was that it slowed down everything around you, giving you an edge, because you were the only one not affected by this slowing of time!
Another thing that made F.E.A.R. great, was the high level of the game's AI. Instead of just charging into a room in single file, the enemies in this game were able of using a wide array of maneuvers themselves. They could jump, climb, crawl; about everything that makes an enemy really dangerous. This meant that you had to keep an eye on every direction, because enemies rarely just used the most simple attack route. They even used suppressing fire, how awesome is that?! Well, not so awesome when they are suppressing YOU, but technically speaking, F.E.A.R. was really ahead of the game at that time!
Visually, F.E.A.R. looked awesome! The environments ranged from open halls to narrow corridors and the hallucinations gave it all that eerie edge the game aimed for. The characters were richly detailed and moved perfectly. I especially liked the animations when Point Man falls victim to Fettel's and Alma's madness. These hallucinations were quite frightening and really well executed. One could only come to the conclusion that F.E.A.R. is a very, very good game that managed to scare the bejeesus out of players around the world. It is a title which I have played numerous times and, till this day, still occasionally do! I mean, come on; great gunplay, awesome melee combat, a good story and awesome horror elements... who could ask for more!
So, my friends, that marks the end of our time together for today. I immensely enjoyed this trip into the past and to get my hands on F.E.A.R. once more. I hope you had a good time as well and I hope to see you all again soon! Now, if you'd excuse me, I am going to start my investigation into the strange goings on that have been occurring of late. Something's just not right, I'm sure of it. Now, if I'd just be able to figure out exactly what it is I'm not seeing here...