Let me elucidate, if elucidate is the right word. There's a well-appointed genre that we're all aware of that's known as SURVIVAL HORROR. Quite simply, it's a genre about TRYING TO SURVIVE in an environment of PUREST HORROR. It's a genre we're all familiar with, and it's one that is supposed to leave you sweating under the pressure of low ammo and a near-endless swarm of mutated and terrifying foes. Generally we're talking about zombies here, but anything mutatious will do.
You know how every TV detective has a gimmick? Bear with me, I am actually going somewhere with this. There's the humourless, tortured detective, the art-dealer detective, and the detective who lives in Jersey and is played by the same guy as another detective, right? Well a good videogame is like a detective show. It fits into a genre so we all know what's going on, but then it does something different. FEAR does this â€“ it's a survival horror game where you outmatch and outgun your foes.
What? Hang on, that can't be right. A survival game where survival is easy? And that's the problem. I don't think FEAR really knows what it wants to be. I'm not saying it's easy â€“ I got murderised at every step of the way on my playthrough, as is only right in a FPS â€“ it's just not sure if it wants to be a survival game or a shooter. Ammo does run out on occasion, but that hardly really slows you down: it's more of an inconvenience than the real nerve-shredder it can be in other horror games.
The actual gunplay, when all spookiness is said and done, is fairly good. Shotgunning punks over balconies in slow-motion is a no-brainer. You'd need to be an idiot not to enjoy that. There are a couple of hand-to-hand moves like flying kicks and punches that are performed with little direction key fiddles, but I never found myself really using them, although I occasionally did them by mistake. The bad guys were blokes in gasmasks for most of the game, and the occasional aforementioned invisible guys (you walk into a new area; die; reload; walk into the same area and see a ripple in the scenery; die; reload; walk into the area and shoot at all the ripples; yawn), and when you finally do turn your guns on supernatural foes they provide some of the most tedious and badly AI'd baddies in videogame history.
FPS games need good locations to keep me interested, and FEAR is noteworthy only in that not a single level is novel in any way. Tenements, office buildings, laboratories... we've all been here before, right? The weird flashbacks that you occasionally find yourself in are standard horror guff â€“ asylums and blah blah blah. The storyline is both impenetrable and inadequate of providing what you need to give a toss about any of your mates â€“ whenever I found another of my teammates strung up by their gizzards, I had a moment of â€œSo was this the guy from the first bit, or that other guy?â€, and not much else of a reaction.
It's not a BAD game if you're just looking for a shooter, and the scary bits can make you bellow in terror once in a while thanks to the shameless employment of cheap tricks, but there are better horror games, WAY better shooters and even better bullet-time games out there. Save your money.