F.E.A.R Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

If we were rating F.E.A.R based solely on its level design, the following text and score at the bottom would have been very different. Thankfully the game is about much more than just traversing dull and uninspired environments.

F.E.A.R is one part Japanese style horror and one part Hollywood esque shootouts, an odd concoction to say the very least, but one that meshes together surprisingly well.

The quieter moments in F.E.A.R are most often spent moving through the dark levels, whilst creepy voices mutter gibberish to you and ghostly figures disappear before your very eyes. It’s not exactly what we’d call scary, but admittedly it can be a rather unnerving experience at times.

In comparison the gritty shooting sequences are akin to the feeling of winning the lottery. Like Criterion’s fantastic Black, shootouts in F.E.A.R are like something out of a Hollywood movie, particularly one directed by action maestro: John Woo. Firing a gun in the game is a positively beautiful experience, for not only the initial muzzle flash but also the after effects, which sees masses of smoke clouding your vision and gaping holes appearing in walls.

Slow motion hasn’t played a major role in a game for quite some time, but F.E.A.R brings it back to the forefront with impeccable style. Initially you’ll only really be flicking this on because it looks so lovely and not necessarily because you feel it will really assist you in fire-fights. It’s perhaps only a few hours in, once enemy numbers increase and thus the game becomes more challenging that you’ll learn the true benefits of slow motion in F.E.A.R. you’ll discover that Conserving this ability is key to winning many a tough shootout.

The primary aspect that contributes to the challenging difficulty is the enemy AI, that are for once seemingly an organized team that are as cunning as they are deadly. They’ll flank you, toss grenades to bring you out from cover, call for backup, tip over objects to utilise as cover points and just generally challenge you. Replaying the game will reveal that your foes are not as smart as they first seem, as much of the AI is seemingly scripted (albeit cleverly so). Nonetheless it’s an impressive illusion, but not even close to the AI revolution that many people claim it to be.

The level design is generic and very repetitive to navigate through and can be very detrimental to the experience, particularly when you’re not shooting something. Even the fantastically executed shootouts can on occasion strain to prevent proceedings from getting dull.

If shootouts is all you want, then the instant action mode is perfect. This offers you four levels, which are more or less lifted from the campaign and gives you fifteen minutes to complete each one. Upon completion of each, you’ll get a rank based on your overall performance, this then uploads to a worldwide leaderboard, allowing you to see how you measure up against other F.E.A.R players around the world.

Xbox Live plays a further part than this. The online multiplayer, whilst largely generic (featuring the very familiar modes of Deathmatch and Capture The Flag) is still – due to the stylishly executed action – one of the better online shooters. The Slo-mo is even cleverly implemented into some of the modes, allowing one player to use it at a single time, thus slowing the action down for everyone else.

If the levels had looked as beautiful as the exhilarating shootouts, F.E.A.R could so easily have been something special rather than merely good. We await the sequel with gusto, in the hope that it doesn’t suffer from such faults.