You young whippernappers want to hear about the FEAR pack? Fine. I played through the whole pack a couple of weeks ago.
First, if you play games primarily to experience stories - don't bother. While there is an actual plot, it's never really interesting and the characters are all forgettable. Second, sometimes people describe the FEAR games as horror games and while this is not untrue, they're really just shooters for the most part.
When you play FEAR, you're doing it for the gunplay. It's the best there is. These games have the best and most intense gunfights I've ever experienced and I think I've played quite a few shooters. They also have the best enemy AI of any FPS I've played. Your enemies actively flank you, cover each other and flush you out of your cover with grenades.
Oh, and you also have the trademark bullet time in all the games, which helps you dealing with the lightning fast combat.
FEAR: The first and arguably best game in the series. The first act in the waterworks is also the scariest part in all the FEAR games and after that it's only scary in places and it becomes rather predictable (shooty section, scary section, shooty section etc.). It's obviously inspired by Half-Life 2 as your main character doesn't say a single line you never leave the first person perspective. While this already stretched the willing suspension of disbelief in HL2, it feels really out of place in FEAR as you'll uncover all kinds of dark secrets™ and find out that all your life is a lie™ - without any reaction. It feels very weird. It's also set in the same universe as Shogo (if you don't know what Shogo is, buy it now - twice) so expect some mild sci-fi aspects, as well as prototype energy weapons and mechas.
While overall very enjoyable, the second act set in the enormous bureau complex is not only dull but also drags on forever. Apparently, the level designers really hate cubicles.
I should probably add that it doesn't look very good.
FEAR - Extraction Point: After Monolith finished FEAR 1, they lost the franchise rights to the publisher Vivendi (now Activision-Blizzard) and this expansion was made by Timegate Studios (who would later make Section 8). Monolith claims the two expansions are non-canonical but it's weird because they never outright contradict each other and Monolith used some of the ideas in FEAR 2, including the laser carbine. So yeah, essentially this is more of the same, which might be a problem for you because most of FEAR 1 is already more of the same. There is a couple of new enemies, which you will rarely see, and a couple of new weapons, which you wouldn't have missed. Except the laser carbine. It allows you to cut enemies into pieces but there is barely any ammo for it.
There are more places you visit this time but they don't look much different from the ones in the original game and often I felt they're just too boring. It seems that the level designers went over this with a "places people think are scary in the dark" check list and it feels oddly formulaic.
The combat is where Extraction Point shines, though. The AI is even better now and the fights are tougher and longer now.
FEAR - Perseus Mandate: I could just copy-paste what I said about Extraction Point because there isn't much of a difference. Whereas the first expansion was a direct continuation of the main game, you control an entirely different character now and the plot is set during the events of the first game and sometimes they overlap. This is also one of the most unnecessary expansion ever made. It adds absolutely nothing to the story and focuses action over horror even more than Extraction Point. If you didn't like the first expansion, don't bother. At all.
However, there is one reason why this is awesome: while the gunfights in FEAR and EP are amazing, the ones in Perseus Mandate are godly. The game just throws one ludicrous combat after another at you and introduces a new type of enemy called Nightcrawlers, who are even tougher, smarter and faster than the regular replica soldiers. Then there are the Nightcrawler Elites who are even nastier and can cancel out your bullet time and fights with them are the best.
Depending on your tastes, it's either extremely dull or the best thing ever.
I also advise you to play all the above games in the highest or second-highest difficulty.
FEAR 2: Monolith got the name rights back - hurray! FEAR 2 was originally planned to be a console-exclusive title and only got ported to the PC in the last minute - uhh...
Okay, FEAR 2 is not a bad game. If it wasn't for the consol-y interface and menus, you probably would have never guessed it had a console past. Most of what made the first FEAR a good game is in here as well but unfortunately, most weak points are back, too. Again, you play a silent character who doesn't say anything and you discover once more all kinds of dark secrets™ and find out that all your life is a lie™. It's weird, because it feels you've played all of this before. Like Perseus Mandate, the events of this game are set parallel to the events of the first game. The story itself is not too interesting but it could be worse. The actual dialogues are superb and it feels like someone read over it twice before inserting it into the game - contrary to 98% of all video games. There are also some sections where you control a mecha and beat up other mecha, it's really a lot less exciting than it sounds. Oh, there's some fairly scary moments again but not too many.
All in all, it's a solid game and a competent FPS. Just don't expect too much.
FEAR 2 - Reborn: It's just a DLC but it's not much shorter than the expansions for the first game. On the other hand, it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. I really liked the idea of this DLC but overall, it's not special and doesn't answer any important questions. This is really just more of the same.
I do not recommend to play FEAR 2 on hard difficulty. While the FEAR 1 difficulty mechanic only gave the enemies the same weapon damage you do and in turn you get the durability of an average enemy, FEAR 2 gives the enemies a hefty +300% damage bonus as well as the chance as one-shotting you with any weapon, as long as you don't wear any armor. Some parts of the game become almost unplayable due to this and the DLC was obviously never playtested on hard difficulty. I cursed a lot.
Also, there is a lot of blood and gore. People explode, shotgun blasts turn enemies into red clouds, limbs flying everywhere and other nonsense. I guess it's supposed to be horrifying but often it's so over the top, it becomes outright hilarious and I had a couple of moments where I laughed out loud.
Some screenshots I made while I played, all with maximum settings:
FEAR 1: Nailed it
FEAR 2: Mecha cockpit
FEAR 2: Desolated
FEAR 2: Sir, I think you lost something here...
Thank you for your very in-depth opinions of the FEAR series. When these sales come around I'm always sorely tempted, but thankfully a helpful fellow like yourself jars my memory as to why I don't own these games in the first place.
They just aren't very good. And the best one is the oldest. And the best parts are at the beginning of the oldest game. Just hearing this gives me bittersweet memories of the Tomb Raider series.
There is no greater argument for inclusion of the protagonist's lower body in a FPS than the ability to leap across a room and bury your boot in some mook's face (or faceless helmet, rather).
Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity is good value for £6. So is Galactic Civ II. Demigod, maybe not so much - perhaps if you have a friend to play it with?
Caveat: those are kinda Amazon or play.com prices, aren't they.
Hmm. I found Sins painfully shallow, does the DLC fix it? In a world with Sword of the Stars and AI War, is there even any reason to give Sins another look?
Buying games you aren't going to play is a waste of money (no matter how cheap they are). Forcing yourself to play games you wish you hadn't bought is a waste of time. Both are best avoided.
Well, there's interesting stuff happening with diplomacy and piracy. I prefer AI War too (but prefer Sins to Sword). These 4X games all feel kinda samey.
Sins seems like a game that needs multiplayer to come alive. I enjoyed it to a degree, but my own games always paled next to the stories I'd read and heard of epic multiplayer struggles.
Whilst I can't argue the savings in the pack for FEAR, I don't know if I want to play that much that is written as 'more of the same'. Would you say it was worth waiting till just 1, by itself, was on sale or do you think the gunplay is good enough to make it through ALL the content? If so, about how long is all of it put together to play through?
Last edited by The JG Man; 18-06-2011 at 07:56 PM. Reason: For additional stuff
Fate of the World is half price on Steam for about 13 more hours; I noticed this one late. It's a very interesting game I bought at full price - I'd say worth giving a shot for $5. You might learn something.
Steam daily - Monday Night Combat, 75% off to £2.50 (Includes 4 pack deal as well). Does this still have an active community? Worth it for someone who already has TF2?
As for it vs TF2, people tend to know the game less well so the standard is lower which is ideal if you're rubbish at manshoots like me but possibly not great if you're looking for a challenge. The addition of the waves of creeps and turrets do add a light DOTA-like element and make playing support classes fun. The new map where you can choose which of the variety of creep you send only enhances this. Sadly most ignore it and too often it just becomes a round of team deathmatch with everyone quickly leveling up their own abilities at the expense of turrets and creeps.
In summary, different enough from other multiplayer manshoots to give a go at £2.50 but don't expect to get hundreds of hours out of it.
Dear Anthile and others.
I've just given Steam £10.
I hope you're happy. I really do.
(I'm eagerly looking forward to it, it was merely a matter of time till I bought it after that great write-up)