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FEAR 360 - single-player impressions

So this is FEAR. Countless lead-spewing engagements that meld into a mantra of violence, and one that goes on for hour after hour... after hour. As the name suggests, there's a darkness to this game that demands you play it with the lights off for full effect.

As the new recruit in First Encounter Assault Recon, a paramilitary police force, you're thrown into a situations that are, shall we say, unusual. A genetically modified military officer, capable of psychically controlling the troops under him, has gone postal. The last anyone saw of him was a piece of CCTV footage which showed the aforementioned freakshow chowing down on the remains of a hapless flatfoot. The sucker needs dropping, and that's where you come in.

One of FEAR's most compelling traits is its slow-motion combat. Think Max Payne, and you're nearly there - although to be fair, it's closer to The Matrix in visual effectiveness. FEAR was developed as a PC game first and foremost, so as you'd expect, the visual effects are nothing less than breathtaking. Activate slo-mo, and bullets move sluggishly through the air, leaving spiralled distortion patterns in their wake.

As the slugs pound home, goons jerk, flail and roar like they've spent their lives in expensive slow-motion ballet training. It's a sight to see, and turns every engagement into a swirling dance in which you find yourself becoming the most anal of perfectionists.