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FEAR's goofy mix of Japanese horror and extravagant action was a PC gaming miracle

2005 was an odd year for both horror games and first-person shooters. Monolith Productions, one of the most beloved PC shooter developers (creators of Blood, No One Lives Forever, and Alien vs Predator 2 ) clearly wanted to prove it still had FPS chops after a Warner Bros acquired the studio in 2004—and FEAR was the result.

A bizarre mix of Max Payne's bullet-time and pop Japanese horror tropes, and wearing the 5 o'clock shadow of a grim military shooter, FEAR did the trick. It's full of genuinely creepy moments and some of the better jump scares in the horror genre. Even better, it's still home to some of the messiest and loudest firefights FPS games have seen yet. FEAR is a goofy mix of pop culture across film and games, mashing up the early '00s energy and visuals of The Ring with the action and arsenal of a Call of Duty. And somehow, it rules.  

On this episode of Reinstall, we look at FEAR's bizarre inspirations and examine why the scares and shooting still hold up today. 

Be sure to check out the rest of the Reinstall video series while you're at it, where we revisit everything from Kane and Lynch 2 to The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield.

James Davenport
James is PC Gamer’s bad boy, staying up late to cover Fortnite while cooking up radical ideas for the weekly livestream. He can still kickflip and swears a lot. You’ll find him somewhere in the west growing mushrooms and playing Dark Souls.