Introduction

We have been excited about lots of new games being released and we've had our hands full testing and playing as many as we can. Starting with games like Battlefield 2, we've been seeing some big advancement in game graphics even within the past few months. Black and White 2, in particular, impressed us recently with its amazing images of water and overall environments. We are always excited about a game that has beautiful looking graphics and rich gameplay as well, and it seems like this is happening more often lately, much to our delight. The Call of Duty 2 demo also has us all giddy, and it looks and plays great, even if it is frustratingly short.

Some other games that have us waiting in anticipation are Quake 4 and Age of Empires 3. We wish that we had some good demos of these games, but unfortunately we have to wait for the release date like everyone else. It seems like the bar is being raised higher and higher with new games in terms of graphics that video card manufacturers might have trouble keeping up, and this past Tuesday, with the release of FEAR, the bar was raised a very significant notch. Yes, FEAR is out, and it is beautiful.

We recently sat down and tested FEAR with the 1.01 patch that came out the day on which the game was released. We also tested with the absolute latest drivers from ATI (press sample 8.183.1017 which should be available in catalyst soon) and NVIDIA (81.85 available on nzone now), both of which offer increased performance in FEAR. Our results were interesting to say the least, and we'll give you the details on how this game performs on a wide range of boards, including ATI's new X1000 line.

While the single and multiplayer demos of this game have been available for quite some time, we had the (quite correct) understanding that final performance would not look anything like what the demo showed. Today, readers can rest assured that the numbers that we have collected will be an accurate reflection of FEAR performance on modern hardware.

The Game/Test setup
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  • Le Québécois - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    And That's why they just do at least a couple of test with slower CPU to see if it affect the FPS or not...I dont say screw the FX57...I juste say..why dont you do a couple a test with a slower CPU to see if it makes a difference.... Reply
  • Hardtarget - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    Good article but I really realy hoped you would of compared a 9800Pro. It's a very very popular card that many of us still have and we'd love to know how it performs! Reply
  • Pjotr - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    I've seen a trend in GPU reviews lately, in that fewer old cards are used. This review says "See if you need to upgrade", but how can I tell when my old card is not there and I have no relation to even the 800 GT? I would like to see more old cards. 9800 Pro is probably a card a LOT of people have, it would be great to include this card and perhaps 2-3 more from around that generation. Reply
  • fogeyman - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    "why would anyone make a game with a no name legacy that has no ability to be played in full with a system that would cost 3000 dollars? "

    This is a huge exaggeration. I have a new, just under $2000 system with an x2 4200+, 7800gt, and 2 gb of memory. I can also play FEAR on 1280x1024 (that's the highest resolution my monitor can support) with all graphics settings turned on (except for soft shadows, I believe) with no noticeable issues. So while my system is a high-end system, zero playability on a $3000 system is a MASSIVE exaggeration.

    In fact, for ~$2400 (the cost for me to upgrade my system to 7800gtx SLI), I could play the game flawlessly on 1280x1024 with all settings turned on. The SLI is probably overkill, in any case, meaning for ~$1900, you can play FEAR easily. Not to mention the graphics are OUTSTANDING at this level. The gameplay is amazing and the physics are to die for (I've spent hours mesmerizing friends during one part of the demo where you can flip an enemy head over heels with the bolt gun thing. So while FEAR is INCREDIBLY demanding, the game is incredibly amazing.

    "sick of this assinine increase in resolutions. I bet the game actually sux after playing it for 2 days like most do."

    Like Derek said, this game is outstanding. It's not absolutely and utterly captivating like HL2, nor is it as practical as HL2, but the game is still awesome.

    "with a no name legacy"

    Companies have to make a name for themselves. Great gameplay is one way, groundbreaking graphics is another, and a combination of the two is even better. FEAR has both. Additionally, Monolith has come out with great games in the past that have been rejected by the market. If you want me to come up with some examples, I'll dig up some games and give you some.

    Granted, these games aren't "uberly leet" like HL2, but you can't expect every game to get ratings as high as 95+.


    Basically, don't post irrational posts that exaggerate the truth. This isn't the time to slander FEAR or monolith or anything else, really. And there's no reason to create "flame wars." Post calm. Post decently. And post rationally...and I probably have some irrational points in here too, so just point them out and I'll attempt to fix it. If I can't, then you win. Happy?
    Reply
  • FPSnut - Saturday, October 22, 2005 - link

    Fogeyman,

    How did you get the game to play at 1280x1024? I only see an option for 1280x960...

    Thanks in advance!
    Reply
  • fogeyman - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    Forgot to add this:

    I also agree with what seems to be a popular opinion that this review is lacking info. It doesn't show us the incredibly out-of-reach SLI setups, making the review more user-tailored and less FEAR-bragging tailored, but few (if any) AGP cards are shown. This makes the review tailed towards the "high" gaming community instead of the mainstream community.

    I would be happier with more lower end cards shown, more varied graphics settings chosen, and far fewer top-of-the-line cards. For example, instead of the 7800gtx and the 7800gt, I would have been okay with just the gtx or just the gt. While this leaves out a very nice card, for purposes of practically it might be better to let users extrapolate the fps for the other card, and instead show some mid-range cards as well.

    If time doesn't allow for this, then perhaps make it more clear that you intend to release another, more comprehensive, review soon so we can get an overview in the first, rush-review and a more detailed review after a few weeks.


    On a side note, I heard rumors that the release of FEAR is multi-threaded. Is this true?
    Reply
  • Le Québécois - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    Well...testing it on a X2 VS a FX55 would make an interesting benchmark but all the reviews I have read so far use FX55-57 processor...And Btw...when CPU speed is taken in consideration ...the FPS in FEAR doesn't change much.. a AMD 64 3200 and a FX57 both run the game at almost the same speed ( give or take 1-2 fps ). Reply
  • ElJefe - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    the game can fear "this" *grabs a lower organ*

    why would anyone make a game with a no name legacy that has no ability to be played in full with a system that would cost 3000 dollars?

    for that id go to europe and rent someone named fear to hang out with or something.

    sick of this assinine increase in resolutions. I bet the game actually sux after playing it for 2 days like most do.

    Now a game like half-life2, that was a game you would consider getting a new system for, or for final fantasy, or for doomIII (even though it bugged out too many people and died fast).

    they should make a new game that requires two overclocked liquid cooled only 7800GTXs in sli mode that gets 4 frames at 640 resolution. that would really help out the industry! yeah!
    Reply
  • 9nails - Saturday, October 22, 2005 - link

    FEAR is a top 10 game. It will become a benchmark for games follow. Imagine a developer that took some of their favorite levels from current games and worked those ideas into a believable environment. Then took a horror movie and tied it to a game and have it play on your mind more than in your eyes. Then toss in some enemy AI that does a lot more than predictably pop out from the same side of a crate; an AI that can actually flank, hide, work together, and corner the player. Then they actually play tested this game with real gamers and adjusted the difficulty to make sure there wasn't something stupid like a flood of Combine attacking you in prison when you had no health and little defense. Now wrap it up this game in cutting edge visuals.

    I have the FEAR Director's Edition DVD, and highly recommend it. And I'm only playing on a P4 2.8 with 1 Gig and a 6800GT. Everything is maxed at 1024, and it looks stunning.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, October 21, 2005 - link

    the game is actually fun and has enemies that are interesting. Half life 2 was bad enough with its enemy AI, but doom 3 had every enemy of a certain type doing exactly the same thing after its initial jump out and scare you routine. it was really boring killing enemies like that.

    FEAR actually has enemies that can do different and interesting things depending on the current landscape, and it seems they work together better in this game than others.

    I'd say that as a single person shooter, FEAR has better playability than many other games out there.

    And, again, lower settings run at higher frame rates.
    Reply

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