Wednesday, January 14, 2015

F.E.A.R. Online

annyeonghaseyo ToriJ ui bidio geim libyu e osin geos-eul hwan-yeonghabnida. I don't think it's any secret by now that I am a huge F.E.A.R. fan. I love the first two games, and utterly despise that horrible abomination that is F.E.A.R. 3. So, when I heard news that they were making another F.E.A.R. game and that it was going to be online, I was both excited and concerned. Excited because I would have thought after F.E.A.R. 3 nobody would want to touch the franchise again, and concerned because how do you turn something like F.E.A.R. into an online game?

Horror is a hard thing to capture both on film and in video games, and having to constantly update it for a MMO can be pretty difficult. The fact that it was going to be a free to play game didn't ease my concerns, but nevertheless it was a new F.E.A.R. and I felt they were really trying to bring back that classic F.E.A.R. experience. With that said, will you follow me one last time?

I love this load screen.

All right, before you begin anything else there's a tutorial you can take to familiarize yourself with the controls, and my god, the tutorial has more to do with F.E.A.R. than the entire third game. Inplay Interactive has done more in one level than Day 1 Studios could do with a whole game. The game takes a lot of inspiration from F.E.A.R. 2, I know there are some fans out there who didn't like 2 as much as 1, but for me? It's a step in the right direction.

You have Alma haunting you, soldiers to take down, experiments coming at you, everything you would come to expect from a classic F.E.A.R. game, but once the level is over that's it. That's as F.E.A.R. as it gets. After that you connect to the main server and you have eight stages overall, and only three of them are story scenarios. From then on out the most Alma has is a cameo here or there, and that's it. I can't begin to fathom how they can do such a great job with the tutorial, and then fuck it all up when you get to the meat of the game, but boy do they ever fuck it up.

You can't even create your own character, all you can do is choose between default character models and add accessories that you unlock by playing the game. What kind of a deal is that? It's not like that on other MMO games. How do you screw up the most fundamental of MMO features? At the start all you have is the default character model for Armacham and Task Force, and you only get to use them if you're playing for that faction.

There are psychic abilities you can purchase, but from what I can tell they have very little to do with the actual gameplay. When you're not shooting enemies, you're either being shot or stabbing people. After a stage is completed you gain experience points that goes to leveling up. There are levels in this game? I could understand if it was an RPG, but this is a first-person- shooter. Shouldn't it be more based on skills than levels? Does this mean if someone is a higher level than me on a map they can just kill me in one or two hits? How is that fair?

Snake, I'm near. Can't you sense me near you?

Maps are determined by which game mode you choose, you can't just select them. In deathmatch you'll be playing the same map over and over again until you get tired of it. Would it have killed them to add more variety? Alien versus Predator 2 had more options than this! The actual gameplay is pretty solid. If you fuck up, you know it was you and not something to do with the game.

Due to the story between Armacham and Task Force you're always fighting in team battles. There's no option to play “Every man for himself.” Not a big complaint for me since I prefer team battles anyway, but something to keep in mind going in. In some modes like deathmatch, you can die as many times as you'd like and always respawn. Doesn't help your team any, but you can come back. In games like Demolition all it takes to be removed from the game is to die once. Then all you can do is watch your other teammates play from there. Then you have a mode dedicated to knife fighting. You can probably guess how well I did there.

The community is what you can expect from an online game. I was just sitting on the menu above and witnessed an argument from a guy named “Tragedy” about how he pwned these guys and was the best player on F.E.A.R. Online. Then the other two talked about how he'd just spawn kill and all that crap, and you'd have gay jokes, dick jokes, your mom jokes, and nobody on either side of the argument could spell. Some people would just post “sdfkljsdfsdgsf.” You aren't even using real words anymore!

One thing that annoys me while sitting on this screen is that you can get a bunch of invites to join the game whether you want to or not. I know that the point is to play the game, but at least give me a chance to look around before you start pestering me about it. I would join the server and before even a full minute can past, I'm being invited to three different games. Did I stumble upon Facebook by mistake? Leave me alone!

Fuck my life!

F.E.A.R. Online offers three different scenarios you can play. The annoying thing about it is that you need to have at least four people before you can start it, so a lot of the time you'll just be sitting there waiting for more players just to run through one scenario. If somebody doesn't connect on the load screen it will freeze and you need to reboot the game. I get why it's like that, but why is it possible to play the game with only two people if the other two leaves right when it starts? You may as well say “Fuck you guys! Try beating this level on your own!”

This is the game's idea of easy: Being flooded by enemies, having to fight a larger enemy with a shield, run down a tram to avoid being set on fire, fight another flood of enemies capped off with a mech firing missiles at you. Yeah, that's their idea of easy. I only even got to see as much as I did because I just happen to come across an experienced group of players, and we still couldn't beat the level. I wasn't entirely useless, I helped get the key card and opened the door. I contributed.

The story is all over the place. I can't make heads or tails of it. It's even more disoriented than F.E.A.R. 3 and that's saying something. I don't even know where in the series this is taking place. Is it before 2? During 2? After 2? I can only guess it's somewhere along those lines because everything about this game screams F.E.A.R. 2, even the tram part. You also see the same adult Alma's design chasing you as there is in the second game. Points for not acknowledging the third game exists, guys, but you may as well not even bother with story.

What can I say? F.E.A.R. was great once. After 2 it had a lot of promise, but that was all thrown out the window with 3. If there's one good thing I can say about F.E.A.R. Online, is that it's non canon so we can just ignore it. I wish F.E.A.R. 3 wasn't canon! That Monolith Productions will come back on a white horse and make the true sequel to Project Origin. Maybe that will happen one day now that they're done with Shadow of Mordor. Maybe they'll ignore F.E.A.R. 3 or find a workaround, until then all I can say is stick with the first two. I'm ToriJ, and this is review #99. Next week we're suplexing some trains!

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