Forgot password?


Password reset

Please enter your e-mail address and new password.

F.E.A.R : First Encounter Assault Recon

By Bobfish11-12-2012
Leigh Cobb (editor)
Blankdoor (editor)
F.E.A.R : First Encounter Assault Recon

The Defence

Warner Bros.
Shooter, Action
Release Date:
US 17-10-2005
EU 18-10-2005

The Prosecution

Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 6600
AMD Radeon 9800 Pro
1 GB
5 GB

The Case


Following only a year after Half-Life 2, and not even a full year at that, it’s a tough call between which of the two really set the benchmark of it’s time. Both made rigs, of the time, groan under the strain. But we’re not here to compare them, we’re here to see how well F.E.A.R truly holds up. Both then, and with the advancements made since.

The Trial


First things first. At time of release, this game was an absolute nightmare to run. So heavy, in fact, that I couldn’t even get a framerate above 8 on the minimum settings, despite exceeding the recommended system specs. It lead a great many people to throw accusations of poor optimisation. And I can really understand why. But, then I upgraded to an x300 everything changed. Compared to the 9800 it recommends, the power difference is fairly minor, even by the standards of the time. But suddenly, I was maxing it out no problem, with a solid 30+. So, yeah, let’s be honest, it’s poorly optimised. But only at the low end. Anything past that and it’s gravy.

Burn baby burn!

Burn baby burn!

And boy oh boy was it worth the investment. Even now the game is pretty damned lush, despite having a primarily grey colour palette. What colour there is has been used expertly, making the glowing goggles of the Replica soldiers stand out. You can see them moving, in the shadows, like ghosts, capitalising on the exceptional lighting. It may seem like no big deal now. But at the time, volumetric lighting was still in its infancy. And the lighting effects in F.E.A.R still stand out as some of the best I’ve seen.

Graphical fidelity doesn’t stop there. Animations are also extremely smooth, including the dreaded first person melee. It actually works in this game. And I don’t mean just a quick bitch slap with the rifle butt. You can jump kick, which is gloriously overpowered, and slide tackle enemies, knocking them to the ground in a most satisfying tangle. Everything flows smoothly, and looks great. And, let’s not forget, the series trademark ‘slow mo’, which really makes you a force to be reckoned with. Charging, guns blazing, right at your enemy, with the environment blurred and distorted around you...sheer win.

Well hai thur sailor.

Well hai thur sailor.

And we can’t talk about F.E.A.R without mentioning the AI. It is truly incredible. In a lot of ways, it actually makes the game easier. AI enemies actually react realistically, the way you would expect real people to. They don’t just swarm at you, running blindly into your weapon fire. They move cautiously, co-ordinate with each other, flank round, pull down drink machines and kick over tables for cover. And you can use this to your advantage. Fire a few rounds off one way, then sneak round to the side. And the game is all the better for it.

The plot, although well implemented, isn't strong. And the atmosphere it builds up is top notch. Fettel is an engaging antagonist, and your squad mates feel like real, breathing people. Jin, in particular, is extremely charismatic. In part because of the exceptional voice work, but also because of the already mentioned animations. She has an expressive face, and she uses it. Jin strikes just the right balance between being cute and fragile, and tough as nails.

Sound plays a key role in this game. With a lot of subtle background noises enhancing the already superb atmosphere. You can hear enemies in the distant, listen in on their chatter, and even spot ambushes when they grow nervous of waiting. It’s a really nice touch to hear them whispering, trying to figure out what’s taking you so long. And then hear them starting to panic when you make your own noises.

Wendy, I can fly!

Wendy, I can fly!

The multiplayer, on the other hand, is nothing spectacular. It has all the usual modes, but nothing really outstanding to keep you playing. It’s fun for a little while, but it isn’t going to keep you coming back for more. It feels painfully tacked on to be honest. And it really was not necessary. Stick to the single player, that’s where the real strength of the game is.

The Verdict


The game has aged extremely well. It’s still fun to play, if a little shorter than it first seemed. It’s still challenging, it’s still interesting, and it still looks great. There are just a few bits and pieces dragging it down and keeping it from a perfect score.

Case Review

  • Great Visuals: Even now it stands up well, and the lighting is still phenomenal
  • Reflex: The best slow-mo since Max Payne. Maybe even better
  • Superb Sound Design: From the score, to the hushed voices, to the little clinks and chimes of movement, everything is spot on
  • Decent story: The events themselves are a bit meh, but the way they’re presented, and the dialogue, is excellent
  • Forgettable Multiplayer: Not bad, just not needed
  • Length: Not terribly short, but short enough to be disappointing
Score: 4/5
I will not F.E.A.R, F.E.A.R is the mind killer
Comments (4)
You must be to post a comment.
Posts: 3

Excellent article Bobfish, my god this game is fantastic. I would probably have rated it 5 out a 5, indeed the story is short, but that mean you can play it again faster ! Definitely one of my favourite FPS of all time along Half-Life and SOFII.

Posts: 32

This was one of my favorites back in the day. Also obligatory: LADDERS.

Posts: 3290

It's just a shame the reigns changes hands. I still say Extraction Point is the best in the series, and it's not even in the series no more :/

Posts: 37

I played this game for the first time this year and was really impressed. The game has held up so well and the gameplay is tons of fun.