For me, fear and videogames have always been inexorably linked. The earliest games I have memories of are the ones that terrified me; and the ones that stuck with me longest are the ones that left a general dread in my soul. We all — secretly or not — love to be scared, don’t we?
Some pretty silly stuff scared me when I was a kid, but that was my overactive imagination doing most of the work. In my teens I got into the real deal. Okay, maybe not the real deal; I’m still too skittish for straight horror games, but I love me a horror shooter. I got a taste with Doom 3 and then jumped headfirst into the game that bore the name of my new favorite emotion: F.E.A.R.
I don’t really have much to say about F.E.A.R. aside from it being one of the best shooters ever. I generally don’t care for where the FPS genre went after the ’90s. Modern, military, cover-based stuff is not my cup of tea, but F.E.A.R. mercifully skirts the worst of those tropes. Modern, yes… but with inexplicably advanced technology, beam weapons, and powered armor suits. Military, sure… but a branch of the military that specializes in ghost shenanigans. Cover-based… nah, dude; you run straight into the fray, slow down time, shoot grenades in mid-flight, grab weapons as they fly out of dying soldiers hands’, and watch the severed limbs soar overhead.
That’s 75% of the game. The other 25%, you spend getting creeped out and having your pants scared off, and it’s great. It’s all amazing, from the John Woo slow-mo and spectacle to some The Ring-inspired horror. I don’t even know how it all works so well together, but gosh I love this game.
I don’t know if I’d be so openly in love with horror-type games if not for this one. F.E.A.R. led me to some of my favorites of all time: Dead Space, System Shock, and Betrayer, which was the game the F.E.A.R. devs moved onto about ten years later. Betrayer was a huge landmark for me, but for now let’s just bask in the glow of how awesome F.E.A.R. is.