February 2nd, 2007, 21:35 Posted By: wraggster
One of the scariest games to come along in some time, F.E.A.R. (short for First Encounter Assault Recon) hit the PC back in late 2005 to critical acclaim, and then again late last year on the Xbox 360. This March, Sierra Entertainment, Monolith Productions and Day 1 Studios will unleash the frightening shooter on PlayStation 3 owners everywhere.
If you haven't played either of the existing versions, F.E.A.R. follows the exploits of you and your tactical assault team sent in to take out a crazed killer. You begin seeing visions of a little girl dressed in red eviscerating others (including your men) amongst other eerie sightings, like blood-filled hallways and decomposing corpses. This setting surrounds a shooter filled to the brim with chaos, shootouts against armies of soldiers and just pure adrenaline-pumping scenarios.
Introduced in the Xbox 360 version of the game, F.E.A.R. on the PlayStation 3 will include the Instant Action mode. You begin each round with 15 minutes on the clock, a number of weapons, a health pack or two and some grenades at your ready. The goal is to clear out the area as quickly and skillfully as possible. At the end of the round, be it after clearing the level, running out of time or dying, you'll be given a score based on how quickly you finished the section, how many enemies you killed, how you killed them, your accuracy and more. Your stats will then be uploaded to an online leaderboard where you'll be able to compare your efforts with other gamers from around the world. It's a difficult mode that's meant to kill you, so you'll want to hone your skills before even thinking about giving Instant Action a go.
While we haven't been able to run two versions side-by-side as of yet, the content of the single-player portion seems to mimic those of the PC and Xbox 360 games. The game is broken up into a series of chapters, and after completing a section you're able to return to them for prosperity's sake.
Day 1 has done a pretty fine job at porting the original game's keyboard and mouse control scheme to consoles. Playing F.E.A.R. on the SIXAXIS feels great, with a really nice balance between weight and ease of aim given to the player. Dialing in headshots is rather easy, even without any aiming assist in place. The game's relatively complex input system (for a shooter, that is) has been mapped really well, with oft-used things like Slow-Mo attached to the shoulder buttons while less combat-intensive items like the flashlight have been moved to the D-Pad. You have a handful of customization options, though you're unable to entirely remap the controls or use a southpaw setup.
While Day 1 has done a great job with the feel of the game, it unfortunately hasn't done so well with the visuals. All of the effects from the PC and Xbox 360 releases are here, like blurring when you enter slow-mo, particle effects aplenty, chips in the scenery from bullet holes and such, but it just doesn't look very sharp. To put it simply, the whole game is quite blurry. We're not just talking texture detail, which is indeed not very good, but the video looks like it's been rendered at a low resolution and then upscaled to HD. The framerate mostly holds steady, though there are a few blips or loading pauses here and there, but the main problem really is a lack of sharpness.
We're told that the final version of the game features enhanced visuals and a better framerate, and we believe it will, but we're very skeptical at just how much of a difference there will be. At this point, F.E.A.R. is a far cry from what the PlayStation 3 is truly capable of. We'll see how the final release goes...
Another somewhat disappointing aspect in our PlayStation 3 build of F.E.A.R. is that its AI tends to be spotty. Its first instinct always seems to be to simply duck, regardless of what's going on. On more than one occasion we tossed a grenade into a group of enemies and simply watched them duck to the ground for a few seconds before they were blown to bits. Fortunately, more often than not the AI does show some semblance of the intelligence that we saw in the PC game, with soldiers backing up while shooting and attempting to use cover, or ducking under or jumping over objects in the environment to get to you. Hopefully the AI will be ironed out before release as it's mostly pretty good.
So far F.E.A.R. on the PlayStation 3 seems to match the intensity and involving gameplay of its PC and Xbox 360 counterparts, but the AI still needs a slight bit of tweaking and the visuals need a lot of work. Here's hoping for a last minute visual boost to bring this version up to speed.
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