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F.E.A.R. Review

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The most exciting blaster since Half-Live 2 hits the PC.

★★★★

While eerie adventures such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill have always drawn heavily on Japanese horror flicks, the fact that Doom-style blasters are notoriously unpopular in the Far East means this brutal genre is virtually untouched by the creeping menace of Ringu or The Eye. But in expertly blending the intense thrills of a Hollywood action blockbuster with the supernatural suspense of a Hideo Nakata chiller, F.E.A.R. is the most exciting blaster since Half-Live 2 tore up PCs last winter.

In terms of pure action, the game is stunning – intense gun battles are brought to life by environments that react realistically to the carnage, with glass shattering, bullets ricocheting and chunks of brickwork being gouged out of walls all around you as enemies swarm in for the kill. The intelligence of your computer-controlled opponents is also incredible, rival soldiers working together in groups to pin you down, or flipping over tables and taking cover behind them as you spray the area with gunfire. The ability to slow down time, bullet time-style, also makes for some thrilling moments, and the acquisition of superhuman powers as the story unfolds means the ferocious action never gets stale.

But what really sets F.E.A.R. apart from its ham-fisted rivals is a genuinely unsettling atmosphere and slick cinematic sensibilities. One minute you’ll be tossing grenades to slaughter a group of enemies clustered below you in a warehouse; the next you’re trapped in a narrow alleyway as a ghostly five-year-old girl approaches, giggling manically as she uses her paranormal powers to summon an inferno that sweeps towards you, destroying everything in its path. Shocking set-pieces such as colleagues inexplicably crumbling into ashes or ghostly voices whispering untold horrors in your ear help make F.E.A.R. one of the year’s most compelling shooters, and one best played with your headphones on and the lights turned off.

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