FEAR Online Review
6 Overall Score
PvP is fun | Well designed maps
Lack of atmosphere | Uninspired PvE | Graphics and sound feel a little outdated
If you are an avid FPS player or if you like horror games, you probably already know the F.E.A.R. series, three FPS-horror titles which revolve around a special assault team that have to uncover the secrets behind a supernatural phenomenon, a paranormal little girl, and mysterious lab experiments.
Aeria Games decided to make the F.E.A.R. fans happy and they just released a new online shooter based on the franchise: F.E.A.R. Online, with a story-line which is paralleled to F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin . With Halloween in the air we thought there wasn't a better time to play a spooky horror FPS, so here we go with our review of this new incarnation of the series. Will it be worth your time? Will it live up to its name? Keep reading and find out.
F.E.A.R. Online tries to recreate the atmosphere of the single player games right from the beginning, by giving you a tutorial which seems quite story driven, a cut-scene that shows you waking up in some kind of half-destroyed hospital room, blood and chaos everywhere. While learning the basic movement and fighting controls and killing the occasional bad guys, you will see brief appearances of Alma, the paranormal girl from the series.
As you could imagine, being an FPS, controls are quite standard and similar to any other shooter around. Despite being precise enough, we felt like they were just a little slow and clumsy, a bit less responsive than we expected; nothing that can ruin the experience, of course, but moving and shooting still felt less natural than in other shooters.
After completing the tutorial session we were brought to the game's main menu, where we could choose the game mode we wanted to play, create our customized games, manage inventory, access the shop, etc. Here we were taught how to buy or craft our weapons, how to equip them and how to equip our special skills. Weapons in F.E.A.R. Online can be bought (with in-game or premium currency), or crafted by using the materials received after a match. By winning a match you will receive materials and temporary gear pieces as a reward, with different objectives to complete in order to gain specific items. You will also receive bigger rewards when you level up, such as new (temporary) weapons, that let you try them and decide if you like them enough to buy them or not.
With our freshly crafted new weapon, a sort of futuristic Jackhammer which shoots blue darts that can impale enemies to the walls (pretty cool), we headed to the game mode selection screen. The game offers 3 PvP competitive modes (Team Deathmatch, Demolition and Knife Fight) and 3 co-op scenario levels. We don't know if you can unlock more of them through progression, but for now the offer seems to be quite scarce and limited in our opinion.
Without hesitation we jumped into the first PvE scenario, labeled as "easy", to see if the co-op game mode managed to capture and recreate the atmosphere and the feeling of the old games' single player campaign. Sadly, this is not the case. In this first scenario, set in an underground secret base, you will be matched with 3 other players and will have to reach the end of the level by completing a series of objective based missions. However, the progression is quite linear, without an interesting plot to follow with cutscenes or NPCs, the "story" was simply a bland and uninspired excuse for the action, which is just plain and simple checkpoint based arcade gameplay. The AI doesn't shine either, and enemies will be just running at you, madly swinging their melee weapons or just shooting without any real strategy. Moreover, it can be frustrating sometimes; e.g. there was a time when we were running through a high speed train which was on fire, shooting hordes of mutated engineers along the way, when suddenly we and all our teammates died without any apparent reason. When we played the level again (if you die and none of your teammates can revive you, you lose the mission and that's it, you're back to the main menu screen), we noticed this time a little on-screen message telling us to run without wasting time or we would die because of the fire, and we realised only then that the flames were an actual danger and if we wanted to live we had to just rush through the train shooting at the enemies just to clear the passage. The point is that the first time the message was so small and the action so chaotic that neither us or our (probably equally nooby) teammates paid attention to it. Another thing that we didn't like at all was that in order to play the PVE levels, you will have to use tokens, and you only have three of them each day, unless you buy more of them through the shop, of course...
So, with zero token left and without managing to complete a single PvE scenario (the last time because half of our team left in the middle of the game), we decided to try the PvP part of the game. We tried the three game modes: team deathmatch, demolition and knife fight. The PvP arenas are well designed, complex and with enough spots to try out different strategies. Even if equipped with our starting weapon, we didn't feel the game was too unbalanced, sure, there were expert players with advanced weapons, but we still managed to score some kills and help our team in demolition, where you have to place and detonate a bomb, or protect the target points and defuse the bombs placed from the enemy team. Knife fight is just a team deathmatch where you can use only melee weapons. It's very chaotic and in our opinion quite pointless, but it can be a nice and fun distraction from the more challenging game modes when you just want a laugh.
Graphics wise, the game is simply below average if compared to the modern free-to-play shooters around. While surely polished, 3D models, animations and textures are too simple and honestly they just feel old. The sounds are boring and uninspired as well, and overall it just feel like the developers didn't put too much effort into the game.
Despite its name, F.E.A.R. Online fails in its main intention: to bring to the fans a an online F.E.A.R. game true to the franchise. The PvE isn't immersive or scary, there is no compelling story, and the graphics are sub-par if compared with other free-to-play shooters around. You could save the PvP part of the game, which could be exciting and fun to play, but honestly there is better stuff on the market right now. You could give it a chance if you are a die-hard F.E.A.R. fan, otherwise you could easily find something better to spend your time on.