With F.E.A.R, Monolith Productions is combining the cinematic experience of an action movie like ?The Matrix? with psychological thrillers like ?The Ring?. The hope is that this blending of intense combat and mind-numbing fear, mixed with a rich atmosphere and engaging story will allow gamers to feel like they're the star of their own blockbuster movie.
F.E.A.R. places gamers in the role of a member of an elite special operations group known as First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.). This government sponsored black-ops group, which is above even with Delta Force, is sent in to investigate matters that are about every-day, normal events -- mostly dealing with the paranormal and other dealings that are otherwise disavowed as rumor and conspiracy.
The story begins with an unidentified paramilitary group breaking into a multi-billion dollar aerospace compound. The group takes hostages, but makes no demands. In response, the government sends in a Special Forces group, only to lose contact with them shortly after as an eerie signal interrupts radio communications. The interference subsides, only to reveal that the team has been obliterated. Live footage of the event shows an unexplainable wave of destruction tearing the soldiers apart before they even have a chance to react.
After your briefing, the leader of the paramilitary group is identified as Paxton Fettle, a psychically enhanced military officer created by the government. The troops he is in command of are also a group of enhanced clone soldiers, all under the direct mental control of Fettle. As a member of F.E.A.R., it's your job to infiltrate the compound, discover why Fettle has gone haywire, and destroy him if necessary.
At its core, F.E.A.R is a full-fledged FPS. The game is built on a completely new engine developed by Monolith that not only pumps out graphical power on par with Half-Life 2, but an advanced A.I. and physics engine. Environments are really dark and cramped, featuring dynamic lighting and some destructible elements like glass and furniture. The game's graphics engine also makes use of particle effects to push the chaos and frenzy of firefights to the limit. As you engage in combat with enemies, smoke and debris will fill the air as shadow and lighting effects enhance the chaos.
Enemy A.I. is very smart and should make for some challenging gameplay. Soldiers will dodge for cover or even make their own cover if none is readily available. They'll also use advanced tactics in order to trap you in certain situations. None of these events are scripted and instead handled by the A.I.'s own reasoning and survival skills.
I don't need to be a psychic to know what you're thinking, "Will my rig be enough to run this game?" The short answer is ,"Yes -- that is if you were able to run Half-Life 2." With F.E.A.R., Monolith is targeting the people who were playing Half-Life 2 last year. The game should run on most mid- to -high end PCs (again, the ones that could run Half-Life 2) and will make use of many of Direct X 9's functions.
Now that we've gone a little into the action-game side of things, what about the horror? Instead of going the survival-horror route for scares, as in Doom 3, F.E.A.R. relies on psychological horror. Throughout the game, you'll cross paths with a mysterious girl in a red dress who will disappear as quickly as she appears. Her appearances will often times coincide with what Monolith calls "nightmare areas", where you'll instantly be transported to a different area filled with terrifying images.
So far, F.E.A.R. looks like it could be one of this year's best FPSs. Look for it this fall on the PC.