Veterans day was this past week. In honor of our brave men and women fighting for this country, we have a special $20 GOTW/Lost Classics, centering on games about our military fighting to defend our livelihood. Although one game is more realistic than the other, both of these games are so good, that you will be proud to be an American as you play them. So sit back, enjoy, and remember the sacrifices of our brave men and women, in both the real world and in digital form.
$20 Game of the Week: F.E.A.R (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
As we’ve seen in both Condemned 1 and 2, Monolith knows how to scare players senseless. This game is different from Condemned’s murder mysteries, but it’s no less intense. Unlike Condemned, this game is a more straight up First Person Shooter, which was in contrast to Condemned’s melee-focused gameplay. It’s notable for it’s creepy atmosphere, which takes cues from Japanese horror-inspired films such as The Ring and The Grudge. It’s other major hook is the enemy AI. The adversaries you’ll face will try to flank you, surround you, and outwit you at every turn. Approaching this game as a simple blast-a-thon will get you killed in short order. Thankfully a healthy selection of weaponry and a slo-mo feature can help even the odds a little.
You play as the typical nameless, faceless FPS hero. You are sent to apprehend Paxton Fettel, a genetically engineered former soldier who has apparently gone mad, eating people and using an army of clones to take over a research facility. However things are not as they seem. Throughout the game, you are besieged by visions of a girl named Alma. You’ll be walking along the highway one minute, and the next, you’ll be knee deep in a pool of blood, or caught up in some other crazy hallucination. The story is gripping, and will keep you hooked as you discover what happens next. If it wasn’t for the story and the AI however, the bland environments would make this just another FPS game. When not in a hallucination, most of the game is spent wandering around bland offices, laboratories, docks, and hangars. Even if the graphics are good, there isn’t much to look at.
The game includes online multiplayer, and it’s as you’d expect it to be. Slo-mo death match makes use of the slo-mo feature to give teams an advantage. Various editing tools are included, so you can even create custom content for the game. To date, there have been two expansion packs that have been released: Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate. F.E.A.R. Platinum Edition for the PC contains the main game as well as the two expansions, while the F.E.A.R. files for the Xbox 360 contain the expansions on a separate standalone disc. Although they haven’t been received as well as the main game, getting them as part of a cheap package is always nice.
F.E.A.R’s honorific atmosphere and excellent artificial intelligence set this game apart from other FPS games. A sequel is due out early next year, and it is guaranteed to offer more of the creepiness that made this game great. Hopefully we can blast our way through more interesting backdrops.
Lost Classics: Medal of Honor (PS1)
This was what Medal of Honor was like before the series, along with the WWII FPS subgenre itself, was ran into the ground. It bought World War II to videogaming in a way that had never been seen before. At the time, it was unheard of for a console FPS title to be this good, even though this console generation saw games such as Turok, Disruptor, Alien Trilogy, and Goldeneye. While Goldeneye on the N64 had an awesome multiplayer component, it was Medal of Honor’s single player that was the star of this show.
Playing as fictional Lieutenant Jimmy Patterson, you are doing your part to help out the war effort. Your missions have various objectives thrown in, so rarely do you have that ‘blast everyone’ vibe that you get from many other FPS games. One game has you disguised as a Nazi soldier, and you must show papers to various military officers or risk blowing your cover. Another mission had players destroying enemy positions while taking out Nazi soldiers. The game was a bit odd too, as whenever enemies were shot, they didn’t bleed. They just clinched over and fell down. It was like you were watching one of those old WWII movies rather than playing your typical run of the mill first person shooter. It was weird, but it was something quirky that you just don’t see in videogames these days.
The game has some pretty high production values to go along with it. The story was written by Steven Spielberg, and the musical score was done by film composer Michael Giacchino. Military vet Dale Dye served as the military consultant for this game, and the game’s producers were submitted to some of the same training that the cast of Saving Private Ryan went through. A prequel, Medal of Honor Underground was released a year later, putting players in the role of Manon Batiste, who briefed you on your missions in the first game, and is based on real-life OSS member Helene Deschamps Adams. There is one-on-one multiplayer if you have a friend. It’s nothing special, and it certainly isn’t Goldeneye, but at least you can unlock characters to play through the game’s maps with.
The first two Medal of Honor games were something special. It’s too bad that everything after that became so overdone. Even with good games such as Brothers in Arms and Call of Duty, WWII shooters have become a dime a dozen, and players have been dying for something new. Still, the original Medal of Honor manages to retain its original charm even after almost a decade.