Every year seems to be one game at E3 that gets a lot of good buzz that I don’t find out about until after the show is over. Two years ago it was Katamari Damacy and this year that game was F.E.A.R or First Encounter Assault Recon. It’s the name of the secret paranormal unit that you belong to. I’m not really sure why you would name a tough military unit FEAR (was PANSY taken?) but I’ll go with it since I’m sure a bunch of marketing guys put a lot of effort into coming up with a clever name.
I picked up a copy of the directors edition of the game to get it on one DVD and for some of the extra content. Opening the box revealed two bothersome items. The first was a note from Vivendi stating that if I wanted to enjoy the multiplayer portion of the game I would first need to go out and download a patch. I’m not sure how you ship something knowing something that major is broken and it’s one of those things that makes you wonder what else is broken in the game. I know this shipping post release patches is a new norm for PC games but including a note like that indicates that they knew of major bugs before the game shipped which irritates me to no end.
The second was that the game shipped with a paper slipcase instead of a CD case. I can see shipping the normal version in paper sleeves but not having one for a special edition just reeks of cheapness. I know budgets are tight but not having a CD case for the premium edition of a product just sucks.
Installing the game revealed a third problem. Whatever copy protection scheme that Vivendi put on the disc (looks like SafeDisc) prevents the game from running on my Sony DVD drive. Sure it will work once in a while but I had to put the disc in my secondary DVD drive to play the game. At this point I was about to take the game back to the store for a refund toward something else. Thankfully I decided to go ahead and work past these items as FEAR turned out to be a fairly solid shooter
The directors edition does come with a nice comic book and a few nice extras on the DVD (including a decent machinma from Rooster Teeth). The material on the making of the game is fairly interesting look into the development of the game without spoiling much of the plot of the game. The added video intro of the game about the mysterious girl in the game was a bit on the lame side though and felt like a direct rip-off of a similar scene in the movie “The Ring”.
You start the game off as the newest member of the FEAR unit and you arrive just in time to join a mission to check out an incident at the Armacham Company. It turns out that one of their military experiments has gone wrong. A powerful psychic named Fexell Patton who can control the minds of armies of mindless clones has gotten loose and is now tearing through the corporation and has taken control of the mindless Replicas. It’s up to you to put a stop Fexell and figure out exactly what the Armacham company has been doing. Along the way you learn a little bit about your own mysterious past.
The plot of the game feels like a mish-mash between “The Ring” and a sci-fi movie. It’s not bad but parts of it feel very derivative. It does keep you interested in the game though. As you progress through the game you unlock bits of the plot by hacking Alienware laptops around the building (nice product placement) as well as by listening to voicemails on phones around the company. It’s optional but it does flesh out the game a bit.
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