Hey everyone! Has there ever been a point when you’re looking through your gaming library and wondered, “Huh, whatever happened to this series?” Well, I’ll be taking a look at videogame franchises and the lead up to their eventual absence. With that being said, today I’ll be asking the question: “Whatever Happened to...F.E.A.R?”
There are few things that can capture the sense of tension in a horror game better than what F.E.A.R itself brings to the table. Yes, there’s nothing quite like blowing away psychic enemy soldiers with shotguns and grenade launchers in close range combat… Wait. That doesn’t sound right. In all seriousness though, F.E.A.R (abbreviated from First Encounter Assault Recon) is the spitting image of what the horror and action genre look like when put together well. One could also put Doom 3 in that category, but Doom is more of a franchise known for the action rather than the scares. Whereas F.E.A.R on the other hand, brings more of a spookiness to it.
So what is F.E.A.R? Well it’s funny that I should ask that, because my first experiences with F.E.A.R were interesting right from the get go. Now, as I’m sure some of you can relate, sometimes there is a series that you end up playing in the reverse order. Whether it be Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil or what have you, there’s just that one series that you happen to find yourself playing the last game of instead of the first. For me, F.E.A.R was all that and more, not only did I play the whole series backwards, I did it years apart. Believe me, when I eventually found F.E.A.R 1 for PS3, there were fireworks going off in my head.
I digress though, the story to F.E.A.R is actually, for the most part anyway, fairly interesting and engaging. Throughout the first game, you take the reigns of Pointman, a real man of the point evidently, as you fight against an evil corporation known as Armacham, who on a scale of ridiculously evil is one step below Umbrella, but one above CELL from Crysis. During the length of the campaign, you uncover the dark secrets behind Armacham as you listen to office phone messages, kill dudes in armor and fight off a terrifying ghost child named Alma that can warp reality into a horrifying nightmare state… but you know, just your average Mondays. In terms of how the game did, the first F.E.A.R performed incredibly well and garnered several positive scores for it’s gameplay and atmospheric tone,
The second game in the franchise, which also was meet with the same praise, followed the same format, but this time the player took control of a one Michael Becket, a far less mute protagonist, but still the same amount of grizzled. In game, it’s all pretty much the same stuff throughout. Dudes in armor, horror happens and *Spoliers* Alma becomes a mother… Wait huh? It’s true, at the end of F.E.A.R 2, titled Project Origin, Alma does a ‘thing’ to Becket and that ‘thing’ results in a child of her very own. Frankly, the way it plays out is more disturbing than horrifying, but it still gets points all the same. Review wise, F.E.A.R 2 also did quite successfully and was well received by fans of the franchise
Now, before moving on, there were two expansion packs to the original F.E.A.R (Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate) that I would mention, but unfortunately they’ve been deemed as non-canonical. Which is a shame because they’re very well made and do a good job at expanding on the characters more.
Anywho, F.E.A.R. 3. So being the last entry into the series, you might be surprised to learn that F.E.A.R 3 switched up the formula a bit and presented itself as a co-op shooter. Which is kind of perplexing when you think about it. A first-person action horror game may be scary here and there, but a co-op first-person action horror game will certainly not be. Despite the above however, F.E.A.R 3 was praised for it’s well constructed co-op feature and decent overall characterisation but panned for its lack of horror and storytelling. A story, mind you, that ends with Alma giving birth while picking which of the two players she liked more and, thus, fundamentally turning the game bitter for players by alienating one of the participants, regardless of how well they actually did. Riveting stuff really.
So why hasn’t there been a recent addition to the beloved F.E.A.R franchise? Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that a combination of mediocre sales and lack of scares are most likely what did the franchise in (I also wouldn’t be shocked if F.E.A.R Online had a big part to play in it as well.) This is really unfortunate because I feel like there’s still a lot of potential left in the series that someone could work with, but that’s just me. All in all though, F.E.A.R is a title that, despite tripping up a bit in the third game, really just needs a fresh coat of paint to come alive once more. Until next time!