F.E.A.R.

July 27, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: F.E.A.R.
Release Date: November 10, 2006 (UK and Europe)
Developer/Publisher: Day 1 Studios/Vivendi Games
Genre: FPS
Platform[s]: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360

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Storyline

First Encounter Assault Recon or F.E.A.R. is a first person shooter with supernatural elements. The story begins with the player (a member of the First Encounter Assault Recon) sent on a mission to capture Paxton Fettel, a madman with cannibalistic tendencies. However things don’t really go to plan and you make a number of enemies; ghosts, monsters, soldiers controlled by Fettel and the powerful entity Alma (a girl who fans of The Ring might find looks a little familiar).

There’s not much more I can safely mention without accidently forcing spoilers upon you but it’s safe to say there is an ongoing plot and there are a couple of twists and turns but to be honest the execution of pieces of story could be better. I’d even go as far as to say that some of the worse acted scenes of Eastenders seem epic in comparison to certian plot elements approached within the storyline. That’s not to say F.E.A.R.’s story doesn’t have strong points.

Gameplay

Gameplay is where F.E.A.R. stands out; the PC version was renowned for its tense action sequences, genuine scare moments and fantastic AI. The transition from computer to console has lost very little of this and in that aspect, its fantastic! Firefights are fun, the flick-of-a-switch slow-mo effect gives the player an edge, but not too much and when the action ends the scares start. Sure the spooky moments are nothing more than a few sound effects, flickering electrics and visual apparitions but it works and even if I wasn’t scared to the point of terror it sure as hell made me jump a few times. Believe me these moments excuse the bad voice acting and imperfect execution of the story because it’s the action and scares you’re focusing on, nothing else.

The level design isn’t perfect though, much of the scenery is recycled and you often feel that you’re visiting the same locales again and again. This isn’t helped by the dark environments often encountered by the player but let’s face it, darkness is a key scare element and because of such is required anyway, much like the way Gordon Brown is a bit useless but the rest of the Labour Party need to keep him on to make themselves look more appealing.

Outside of the core campaign players will find a fairly simple multiplayer mode, sixteen players; deathmatch, capture the flag, elimination and a couple features unique to F.E.A.R. however there isn’t much in the way of Xbox Live gameplay and no system link either, so it’s a very lonely and sombre affair – one which I wouldn’t recommend subjecting yourself to which is a shame because the MP is actually pretty good fun! Instead there are Instant Action maps, missions focused on combat rather than story in which the player is scored by time and performance which can then be uploaded onto the XBL scoreboard.

The controls take a bit of getting used to, particularly for Call of Duty fans but after an hour or so of play they do become second nature.

Graphics

Here’s the thing, graphically F.E.A.R. is better than a lot of games released around the same time, in terms of textures and models it’s kind of outdated but in regards to special effects, lighting, shadows and such F.E.A.R. actually outperforms some titles released even today and the game holds up pretty well on a HDTV as well!

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Sound

Hook up the surround sound, turn up the volume and you won’t be let down. The sound effects are absolutely fantastic; the music adds plenty to the atmosphere and the only real drawback are the few moments of weak voice acting which occasionally rear their ugly heads.

Overall Score & Replayability

F.E.A.R is a game that manages what most survival horrors don’t; it’s a credit to both the FPS and horror genres. Its action orientated, its fun and most of all it’ll make you paranoid that all little girls in the world are in fact evil! Sure, it has faults but the good points outweigh them significantly and if you don’t mind a slightly outdated game at a bargain price then F.E.A.R. is a must buy!

F.E.A.R. Files

July 27, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: F.E.A.R. Files

Release Date: November 06, 2007 (US), November 16, 2007 (EU), November 30, 2007 (AU)

Developer/Publisher: Day 1 Studios/TimeGate

Genre: FPS

Platform[s]: Xbox 360

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Storyline

In 2006 Xbox 360 owners were introduced to the spooky FPS, F.E.A.R and for the most part the game was a huge success.  Players witnessed a creepy story of ghosts, psychics, heavy action and one angry undead child bent on revenge and destruction.  F.E.A.R. Files is more of the same but split across two short campaigns: Extraction Point and Perseus MandateEP follows on directly from the first game’s ending – for those who haven’t completed F.E.A.R. I shan’t spoil it.  For those who have; you know what happened!  PM is a new story with a new protagonist, however Alma and Paxton do return.

As with the first game, Files does offer a story but the execution is far from perfect and it’s all over just a little too quickly.

 Note: Following the release of F.E.A.R. 2, F.E.A.R. Files is no longer considered cannon in the overall plot of the series.

 

Gameplay

What F.E.A.R. Files offers in terms of gameplay is basically more of the same; long action sequences followed by periods of nothing (with horror ambience) and then a big jump moment (repeated for three to six hours).  This might seem simple but it can work, after all it did in the original… however the expansions over use the formula and so it all becomes stale after a while.  It’s good just not as good as it was the first time.

Once again, expect a semi-decent multiplayer feature with zero popularity on XBL (meaning no-one to play with).  Also ‘Instant Action Maps’ make a return, with a couple more levels; this gives players non-stop action in which to score as high as possible and compete for top place on the world-wide leaderboard.

Despite the above mentioned flaws Files is still fun.  There is action, there is atmosphere and finally there is Alma!  Unsurprisingly there are also new weapons; to see your enemies explode in at least three new ways!  So yes, the expansions pale in comparison to Alma’s first reign of terror but they offer something for the fans and let’s face it, how often do expansion packs outsell their main game counterparts?            

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Graphics

Graphically F.E.A.R. Files is almost but not quite on par with F.E.A.R which means that the game will seem outdated by today’s standards but offer brilliant special effects, shadows and lighting.

 

Sound

The following quote from our F.E.A.R. review is still relevant for Files:  

“Hook up the surround sound, turn up the volume and you won’t be let down. The sound effects are absolutely fantastic; the music adds plenty to the atmosphere and the only real drawback are the few moments of weak voice acting which occasionally rear their ugly heads.”

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Overall Score & Replayability

F.E.A.R. Files is far from perfect and it certainly isn’t an improvement from the game that preceded it however there’s a lot for the fans and considering how cheap you can pick it up it’s definitely worth a plough through one rainy weekend!

Race Drive: GRID

July 27, 2009 by Stuart Ogilvie  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: Race Drive : GRID

Release Date: EU 30th May 2008 / NA 3rd June 2008 / AU 5th June 2008 /

Developer/Publisher: Codemasters / Codemasters

Genre: Racing 

Platform[s]: Xbox 360, PS3

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Rocket Riot

July 18, 2009 by Dave Burns  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox Live Arcade

Overview

Title: Rocket Riot
Release Date: 17th June 2009
Developer/Publisher: Codeglue / THQ
Genre: Xbox Live Arcade
Platform[s]: Xbox 360

Storyline

You’re a pirate with no legs and a rocket launcher and a professor has strapped a jet pack to your back in order to destroy the evil enemy Black Beard. Simple!

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Gameplay

The gameplay in this title is as simple as pie, each level gives you a certain objective (Kill enemies, blast blocks, destroy cannons and score in a game of American Football) and as each level progresses the gameplay gets faster and harder with enemies having increased accuracy and of course a lot more bad guys to blast. Controlling the game can be a bit daunting at first as you control with both analogue sticks (one fires and controls the strength of your shot while the other controls direction), but as soon as you get used to it you will be blasting like no tomorrow.

As you blast away at the scenery you will see spinning grey cubes that will turn into power ups, some of these are not power ups and they screw you over like bouncing you all over the place as if your a pinball or take away your rocket launcher and turn it into a gun that shoots out a ‘Bang!’ flag.

Graphics

The games graphics are quite simply wonderful, with each shot you take the environment breaks away in 3D like pixels as you can see from our screenshots. Each level has been crafted perfectly to try and screw you over with each level as it progresses. The colour scheme is very bright and brings you a warm feeling, just as well really as if your anything like us your going to die… A LOT.

You get a great feeling that the developers have spent a long time trying to produce this game and the work in the graphics department certainly pay off.

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Audio

In terms of audio we really can only talk about the SFX and the backing music both of which are truly excellent. The background audio certainly has a level of repetitiveness around it but it no time you will find yourself playing the game just to hear the same music again and again, I find the words ‘Rocket Riot’ going over again and again in my head.

The SFX are nothing out of the ordinary that you would expect from an arcade game, but they do fit in really well against the background music. However, I feel if the music wasn’t playing then we would probably be turning the sound on the TV down and playing some music on our stereos.

Overall Score & Replayability

Overall the game is very addictive but also very repetitive at the same time and may bore some people but in our opinion 800 MS Points is definitely worth the price for such an excellently crafted Xbox Live Arcade game!

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