F.E.A.R. Series Catch-All


I was surprised (and pretty bummed) to discover via Puce Moose that there's no F.E.A.R. Catch All.

This will not stand!

You know when you see gameplay footage and think: "Holy sh*t, that looks AWESOME"?
F.E.A.R. was one of the first games to do that to me. Like everyone else, I thought the acronym was terrible, but the game held genuine appeal for me in a way that few other games do.

F.E.A.R. was an absolute blast. The second game relies more on jump-scares than the original, and doesn't do as well at building a sense of dread, but the gameplay and environments (particularly the elementary school), make it as strong an entry in the series as the first.

I'm kind of in the same boat as you.

The first game is easily in my top five FPS of all time, and has some of the most satisfying gunplay ever. The second was initially a dissapointment compared to that high watermark, but once I got past that, it still was a really good game, if for no other reason than Monolith are one of the few FPS developers left who actually use the Valve method of good level design, clever signposting, et al instead of forcing you forward by the nose COD-style.

I'm hesitant about the third game. A totally new developer with a mediocre track record, not to mention a lot of the media for this game being suspect. (When one of the big features they talk about is how so much of the game is "dynamic" to support multiple playthroughs and co-op, that sometimes results in people planning on just playing it once to be left with an underwhelming experience). I'll still give it the benefit of the doubt, though, since some of the previews do look interesting at the same time.

Speaking about totally new developers, I'm wondering what the hell Monolith is working on. Unless there were layoffs I didn't hear about, they had two teams running in tandem, but they haven't talked about what they're working on since FEAR 2 shipped in early '09 (and even that was mostly to get out of the holiday insanity).

FEAR is one of those games that I want to get into. I've actually bought it twice but I lost the discs to my PC copy in a move and when I got it for the XBOX and disliked the controls (they felt better on PC) so I sold it. Now Steam has the first collection for $10 but there's a growing pile beside my XBOX and Portal 2 coming soon.

I love horror themed games so you'd figure I'd be all over this but it's just never come together for me.

Posted this in the thread Puce Moose necroed, but I thought I'd repost here.

Oddly, I have been playing Extraction Point for the first time, except I picked it up during a not-so-recent Steam sale. (Last summer, actually.)

The combat in it is interesting and the opponents at least pretend to be intelligent. (They are smart enough to take cover, run from grenades, react to my flashlight and at least try to flank me.) Unfortunately the game is painfully linear. Except for an occasional left-or-right around a loop or dead-end ending in some bonus goodies there is literally only one way to go. While I realize it is a game, these are probably the worst designed building layouts I have ever seen. (A long, winding service corridor only accessible by a service ladder and a flooded drain with a random conference room and a cubicle stuck off of it? Who designed these buildings?)

I actually like the story they are trying to tell. Too bad the storyline for Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate is thrown out the window for FEAR 2.

I'm really glad to see this. Pregnant 15-year-old ghost-zombies are grossly underrepresented as video game villains.

The other FEAR games are actually surprisingly good, though they can't seem to decide what they want to be. The horror isn't particularly scary but it is very well done for an FPS and there were a few parts where I felt genuinely uncomfortable. More in line with the Silent Hill or Condemned sense of being somewhere filthy and disgusting and wrong than the Resident Evil sense of seeing a zombie in front of you and wishing you had an assault rifle, like the one in your hands.

They're decent as FPS games too. I'm not entirely sure the two mesh very well, though. I play FEAR for the atmosphere, not to battle waves of enemy soldiers.

That said, one of them has a part where you're fighting giant robots in a parking garage which was pretty satisfying, and another let you pilot one of the giant robots, which is every bit as awesome as it sounds.

Thanks for the thread Deadmonkeys!

The first FEAR game is one of the few games I'll replay every year and a half or so; I typically don't replay games, but for some reason it always draws me back. I think the last time I played it was late 2008, and it was only this year that the seams started to show a bit; some models looking chunky, low-res textures in places, etc. I wonder if it was FEAR 2 that caused that perception switch to flip? Regardless, it's fun to get back into it, and Extraction Point has been a treat because I've never played it. I've never done Perseus Mandate either, so that will be a nice bit of fearfulness for me over the next few days.

What are some of the things you are hoping for (and concerned about) regarding FEAR 3?

I think our resident crustacean crime representative sums up my thoughts well:

I play FEAR for the atmosphere, not to battle waves of enemy soldiers.

I'm afraid they're trying to take the series more in a 'war' direction based on some tidbits I've seen from FEAR 3, perhaps attempting to compete with the big boys of war games. This is NOT what I want in my fear; I want the focus to stay on an engaging single player experience, with lots of spooky voice mails, emails, creepy events, etc. I'd love to see an entire level of scares, and not a single enemy to fight. Wandering through the sight of a horrific battle, guns everywhere, stocking the player up - yet nothing happens. Keep the player on edge, throw some curve balls. Give us an area or two when it is flight, not fight, or give us nothing but deployable turrets to try and take down a robot.

This is one of the things that I'm highly concerned about. Playing Extraction Point, I was reminded how simple, non-intrusive, and functional FEAR's HUD is. Reasonably small and informative. I still would have loved a no-HUD option for better immersion (Metro 2033/modded Fallout 3/New Vegas has forever spoiled me on that point). I *HATED* the HUD in FEAR 2; it made me so angry I actually wrote a physical letter to the company. Glowing enemies, huge, intrusive border around the screen, gigantic 'PRESS B TO SCRATCH YOUR BALLS' messages anytime you focused on something interactive. Granted, that's one of my pet peeves (err, the HUD thing, not the testicles thing), and it probably bothered me more than most because of that. It seemed counter-productive to crafting a chilling atmosphere when you have to stare at glowing blue crap during the entire experience.
Possibly even crueler, they toned it down and made the HUD acceptable in the Reborn DLC, yet never went back and bothered to patch in a reduced-HUD option for the original FEAR2. I would have gladly lost my crosshair and all information, even if they had just bothered to take five minutes and give us a console code to completely disable the HUD (as a lot of games do for a machinma friendly mode). I would have taken my chances.
*pant* *pant* Okay, got that out of my system.

Extraction Point! Boy, it's a good feeling to see those little blinking red light indicating a voice mail. I wished they'd kept the same phone and light for FEAR 2; that would be a neat mascot of sorts for the game, to always have those same chunky phones & light, regardless of how the rest of the graphics had improved.

It seems like they've changed some of the squad chatter for Extraction Point. I have not yet heard my favorite 'Move In!' 'No f*cking way!' exchange. That always warmed the cockles of my heart, to hear ever that brief bit of humanization of the enemy soldiers. Then again, I'm shooting replicants and not regular soldiers, so perhaps they didn't want to make them seem too human. On the other hand, they do curse a lot, and you wouldn't think that they would take the time to teach slang to their test tube soldiers.

It's good to be talking about FEAR again! Feels like 2005 all over again.

I'm currently playing Project Origin on Hard. Yesterday I passed through the area in the elementary school where your flashlight stops working.

I play horror games with the lights off and headphones on.

Throughout this second play through, I've been moseying my way through the levels: searching every room, reading the textures on placards and paintings, and looking for the slo-mo boosters and text files.

The opening hallway section wasn't that bad, but when I got to the gore-splattered room with the flickering lights, I moved through the area as fast as I could, neglecting to search the rooms for goodies. All could think I was "RUN DAMMIT RUN! GET OUT GET OUT!"

I took a break after that.

That elementary school is great; really hammered home the 'this kind of stuff is why I like FEAR.' I sincerely hope the team building FEAR 3 has looked at these kind of sequences for inspiration. I'm a bit concerned that they keep yapping about the co-op functionality instead of the story in the bits I've read, but at least they do say 'the focus is on horror', so I will keep my hopes up and eagerly await that that hopefully scary day in May that's around the corner.

I hope we get the deployable turrets back from Extraction Point in FEAR 3! I'll also be curious to the refinements to the Penetrator; I liked the cool glowing green square on FEAR 2's penetrator weapon. Maybe an option to hold LMB to charge up multiple spikes to fire at once? Incendiary spikes?

Puce Moose wrote:

Incendiary spikes?

So when soldiers get pinned to the wall, they flail about and scream bloody murder while they burn to death?

Genius or Sadist? YOU decide!

Yeah, Extraction Point is actually pretty good. Even though nothing that happens is technically canon, it's fun to view it as an "alternate universe" kind of thing, especially since Project Origin doesn't even address what happened to most of those characters anyways. They still made some interesting battles.

I thought Perseus Mandate wasn't very good at all, though, and really felt like the cheap cash-in for the failing Sierra it probably was. They seemed to try more open environments to mix it up, but that just (a) Made the level designs much worse for the clever A.I. to do anything interesting and (b) Made the fact that both the engine and assets were really dated stand out even more. (The fact that it was originally released between COD4 and Crysis made it even worse.) It's also extremely difficult to the point of being rather unfair.

@ Puce Moose: I agree with you on the comments on the overly egregious HUD for FEAR 2. I already had the advantage of slo-mo, so making all the enemies glow profusely wasn't really necessary, guys. Maybe the success of the other "horror" action series, Dead Space, will show the developers how to be more subtle with that stuff in the future.

I also missed the lack of particle effects in FEAR 2. Part of what made the battles in the first FEAR games so satisfying was after a battle was over you were left in a room with tons of bullet holes and a bunch of dust, smoke and scraps of paper floating in the air.

The thing where I think Monolith mis-stepped on FEAR was that it didn't initially have a strong direction, that resulted in the lacklustre expansions.

They started by teasing it with this image, and describing it as a mix between The Matrix and The Ring, and action game with supernatural elements. I think that worked fine for the first FEAR, a shooter with the underlying psychic weirdness, Armacham's dealings and pointman's history. I'm not sure it set up a great foundation for the following games, but what do I know seeing as it's spawned two sequels and three expansions, although they made a change of direction.

The other thing which is more a general observation of Monolith, is that they love their decayed urban environments, they are good at making levels that look the part and play well, but the layouts more often than not don't make sense when I think about them more than 5 seconds ("who would design a basement like this?"), which breaks the immersion.

What are you talking about, Scratched? It had a creepy little girl. She wore red.

That's already more of a plot than Duke Nukem.

I was not a fan of the fat IT guy at all. I was OK with his role in the story and what he did but I was not OK with his childish glee at doing it. You'd think a guy in that position would be pretty focused and serious, rather than calling a special forces guy a sucker while summoning an easily dispatched turret. In fact you'd think he'd do as little as possible to give the special forces guy any warning at all.

My problem with the fat IT guy is that, despite being a Special Forces guy and knowing that he was betraying me I couldn't do a damn thing to him. I emptied a clip into him; the game won't let you kill him.

And I've already stumbled across him in Extraction Point. I still can't kill him.

He's also an interesting design choice, seeing as he's pretty much the stereotypical "computer guy..." Just like FEAR's target demographic.

Wow, I need to stop ending posts in italics. Here's some bold.

Well, Fat IT Guy (what is his real name) is pretty much a lift from Nedry in Jurassic Park. As an IT guy myself I don't like the stereotype (I do a couple of miles a day myself) but what can you do?

Google tells me his name is Norton Mapes.

Also, having just played FEAR for the first time at the begining of the year, I thought it was an ok game but not amazing. I think I was missing something based on the way you all are talking about it, or I should have tried it on the hardest diffuculty setting.

tanstaafl wrote:

Well, Fat IT Guy (what is his real name) is pretty much a lift from Nedry in Jurassic Park. As an IT guy myself I don't like the stereotype (I do a couple of miles a day myself) but what can you do?

He wasn't a lift from Nedry. They were just the same archetype.

kaptainbarbosa wrote:

I also missed the lack of particle effects in FEAR 2. Part of what made the battles in the first FEAR games so satisfying was after a battle was over you were left in a room with tons of bullet holes and a bunch of dust, smoke and scraps of paper floating in the air.

Good point. I've been playing Extraction point and I just finished a firefight and the air is clogged with fog and particles. It's something you don't see in too many shooters, and it really enhances the feeling of 'something unpleasant has happened here.' The battle I just finished had a single trash can with its lid swinging as the dust particles swirled around it; I'm sure there's a powerful metaphor lurking in there somewhere.

Other little things I appreciate in the FEAR that are not always found in other games:
* Persistent Corpses - I hate it when corpses do the fade-vanish thing, especially if it's just a few seconds after the soul has left the building. This drove me bonkers in Alpha Protocol. Seeing the corpses and the blood and the bullet holes and the broken wreckage really enhances the experience for me and adds weight to your actions. If everything is back to hospital-clean ten seconds after the fight ends it saps a lot of the atmosphere for me.
* The ability to holster your weapon - There's far too many FPS games where you can't put your dang weapon away. I feel like a moron running around an empty room holding my pistol out in front of me (plus it needlessly blocks the player's view), so it's nice to be able to holster my weapon when I'm walking around looking at things.
(a few more came to mind)
* Press any key to continue - loading a new level often means a good chance to make a trip to the boom-boom room or grab a drink/snack, and I always appreciate it when I have to press a key to finalize the load. It's doubly appreciated when the loading screen gives wrap-ups/anecdotes/etc., to make sure that I don't miss something important.
* Thanks for showing me my legs! It seems sort of uncommon to actually see your legs in FPS games; when you look at your feet it's just empty space. Seeing my legs helps to reassure me that I'm not just a floating torso.
* Crosshair customization - not seen often at all, and much appreciated. Alpha, color, size. I'd love to see all games feature HUD customization; opacity fade should be mandatory.
(apologies in advance for continuous edits; I keep finding neat things as I'm playing through Extraction Point and I wish to log them lest I forget them.)
* Particle beam weapon scope sound Oh man! I'd forgotten that one. I love the zoom in sound effect on this weapon. It reminds me of the 'lens switch' sound one hears during an eye exam *(clearer here... or here?)* when optometrist prime adjusts the lens; for some reason I always loved that sound. I also love the weapon's digital ammunition readout; weapons with built in ammo counters/status are top-notch in my book. Plus, I find favor in the style of the weapon; low rate of fire, low capacity, pinpoint accuracy required, heavily damaging weapons are well suited for my style of play. I also hold great fondness for that laser carbine gun.
Proximity mines! Something else I love with a passion, especially when they're damn nasty. Deploying a mine and running away and hiding behind something, and hearing the shrieks of pain and terror as some unkindly hostile wanders into range shortly after 'Advancing!' filters through my comm channel; balm for the soul. 'Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone' I think to myself and nod, though reconciliation came too late for this blood splotch and pile of gory debris now raining down around me.

Alright! Fine! I just bought it a 3rd time you filthily enabling filthy enablers! Let's see if I can actually finish it.

You may need the widescreen fix; I had to use it to get 1920x1080 resolution in Extraction Point. I assume that standard F.E.A.R. is affected by it as well, but I'm not sure. It's a change to an .ini file.

Standard FEAR1 now works in widescreen correctly, although 2D menu backgrounds are stretched.

Sometimes I feel like the only person who thought FEAR 2 was a really good shooter. It had a great feel to the shooting, good event scripting, nice weapons, the same great bullet-time we all love and a half-decent multiplayer suite.

By rights I should be getting FEAR 3 but May is a complete mess. Between my backlog, LA Noir and possibly either Red Faction or Dungeon Seige I don't think I can take "just another shooter" for quite some time.

Will get it eventually if only for the promising co-op play.

I loved the firefights in the first FEAR, I don't think any shooter has topped them in my mind. I'm almost tempted to re-install it so I can fight some replica soldiers again.

It never really worked as a horror game for me though. Your character's so powerful, I never really felt any vulnerability. The scary segments take away that power, but it doesn't take long for you to figure out that the rule is that they're never going to hurt you in them either, and they never change that up until the very end.

I liked FEAR 2 quite a bit. I thought that it had great gunplay and interesting environments, and I enjoyed the horror-ish atmosphere, too. I did find that the last part went down a lot better if I just ignored the plot's specifics, though.

Maclintok wrote:

Sometimes I feel like the only person who thought FEAR 2 was a really good shooter. It had a great feel to the shooting, good event scripting, nice weapons, the same great bullet-time we all love and a half-decent multiplayer suite.

I think most of the people in this thread agrees with you. It was only a disappointment based on what I was expecting off of my love of my first one, but I still enjoyed it a lot more than most other shooters that come out these days. I do agree with you that some of the critical and user response was astoundingly negative (especially when it clearly had a lower budget than similar titles that came out at the same time like Killzone 2 that felt way more generic in it's ideas and atmosphere).

FEAR2's "problem" was that it was average (I wouldn't call it good or bad, a nice solid shooter), and that it was a sequel to a good game (or, a good game at the time of it's release). There's probably a long list of games that don't get their due just because they're compared to other games, rather than on their own merits, although I'll say being a sequel does invite comparisons to the preceding game.

I had a good time with FEAR 2, and it had some good set-pieces, but I really disliked the HUD. I'm all for minimalism, and that constant lines on the HUD and the glowing enemies in slow-mo didn't sit well with me. A lot of people didn't mind it - heck some people even liked it, but it just left a bitter taste in my mouth that colored the entire experience for me. At least they did explain it in the game why this awful thing was on our face, but it didn't make it any more palatable for me.

In one forum I found someone else took the liberty of expressing his exasperation with a bit of screen shot editing for a quick laugh:
Imagine Killzone 2 with this amazing HUD! (pic)
Wouldn't it be cool?

Anyway, water under the bridge at this point, as nobody has found a way to disable it and this late into a product's lifespan I think there's probably as close to a zero percent chance as you can get that it will be patched. I just hope that they give us some HUD customization options in FEAR 3! *crosses fingers*

Ooh! Something else I like that I re-discovered in FEAR:
* Lighting being affected by battles Explosions making lights dim and flicker, altering the lighting conditions mid fight. That really impressed me, as I don't remember seeing that happen in a game before (Unreal's awesome 'lights go out and then a beastie attacks was certainly cool, but obviously scripted).
* Phones that can be knocked off of the hook - hearing the operator say 'your call cannot be completed as dialed' in the middle of a firefight is a great touch that I don't think I've seen in other games.

I just finished Extraction Point tonight. I have to say I was impressed! I especially liked the area just before the epilogue; the dev team obviously took some clues from the Silent Hill series, and I enjoyed the horror bits.

I thought quite a few of the scares were well done, and some of the sequences rivaled anything from the first game. I won't spoil one of the more unnerving scenes, but if you're a bit claustrophobic like I am there's one scene that may have you drawing deeper breaths than usual.

I was saddened by the lack of new voice mail/messages. Seeing those blinking lights on the phones always made me cheer. In Extraction Point there were only a handful, and most of them only a few seconds in length.

A few more things that I like, continuing my list from the previous post:

*The ability to close doors* Too often, opening or closing a door is a permanent decision. It's nice to be able to run into a room and close a door to hide for a bit to collect your thoughts, or open one right into the face of the enemy for a nice surprise. It can also be fun to kick a bunch of stuff into the doorway, and then open/close the door and watch the physics engine have a panic attack.
*The ability to toggle 'always walk'* A lot of FPS place the player on rocket-powered roller skates, with no ability to walk at a normal level. I find the walk speed in FEAR to be just about right given the frequently cramped environments. It also silences those loud footsteps a bit.

I may dig into Perseus Mandate, though wow does it seem to get a thrashing from most impressions/reviews I've read. I was hoping it would focus more on atmosphere/messages/story, but it sounds like it goes in the opposite direction and focuses mainly on combat. Apparently it does feature three new weapons and a new enemy, so that might be worth a look. How did you guys enjoy it?

I had very limited game time this weekend but I decided to really dig in to FEAR. This is a great game! I can't believe I never played it past the first few levels before. I love the scares (in fact I could do with a few more of them) but what really gets me is how tight the combat feels. I'm pulling off the tricks I've always failed at in other FPS games. Slo Mo helps of course but it's still remarkably satisfying to creep into a lobby, huck a grenade up to the rail above and see the first trooper's body fall past just before I bolt the guy on the opposite side to the wall.

I am playing on Easy because I decided I wanted to just have tourist time with the game but I don't feel like I'm cheating. There isn't a sense that the bad guys have been stupified by the difficulty slider, just the damage levels have been tweaked. They're still lobbing grenades behind cover, flanking me and finding alternate paths through spaces rather than just charging head on. I still need to be crafty in how I approach them.

I was worried, actually. I was watching a "Let's Play" of FEAR 2 since I had decided I won't have time for it and the player just fires a round, backs around a corner and waits for the troops to bunch up while trying to rush him. Not sure why the AI is dumber in the sequel.

I may end up going for a second play on higher difficulty and to savor some of the horror moments. It looks great on a machine 5 years more advanced than the system requirements. Ugh. So much new stuff and now I want to ditch out on it and play a 5 year old game!

gains wrote:

I was worried, actually. I was watching a "Let's Play" of FEAR 2 since I had decided I won't have time for it and the player just fires a round, backs around a corner and waits for the troops to bunch up while trying to rush him. Not sure why the AI is dumber in the sequel.

Generally the reason the AI in FEAR is considered so clever is that it can use the environment properly, as in find routes to flank the player. In FEAR2 there's less routes around the world, and from what I remember is a lot more scripted.

I remember being first impressed by the AI in FEAR when I saw an enemy pop out of cover, knock a filing cabinet over then crouch behind it to shoot at me. Then his buddy circled around me and attacked from a side room. It's about the only game I've played where the opponents feel like more than really aggressive targets in a shooting gallery.