Another day, another original article. How can this be? Yesterday I looked at a few series that I happened to miss out on, and asked you to share your stories. A few people said they didn’t really have much to talk about so I figured this article should remedy that problem. Today we’re going to get the juices flowing by hopefully introducing players to lost classics. Games that you felt were great or worthy of being mentioned even though perhaps they never really caught on or reviews didn’t seem to “get it.” As usual, I’ll get things started.
There are countless games I could talk about here. Games that I thought were good enough to warrant a sequel, or twenty, but just never seemed to click with the masses. The first game that pops to mind is Fear Effect. This PS1 third person action game was something else when it hit the scene back in February 2000. Wow, I can’t believe an entire decade has passed since this original IP was released.
Fear Effect was made by the now-defunct developer Kronos Digital Entertainment, and published by Eidos Interactive. Yes that’s the same publisher as Tomb Raider. At the time of release the awesome Resident Evil: Code Veronica had just hit the scene on the Dreamcast. A lot of reviewers were saying the RE series was starting to show its age, not so much in graphics, but in terms of gameplay. Remember that three full Resident Evils had been released up to that point, all featuring the exact same gameplay mechanics and overall idea. Fear Effect was something a bit different.
Instead of featuring zombies, this game was all about the Chinese culture and its version of hell, hell on Earth. Protagonist Hana was a hard-edge gunslinger who, along with Deke and Glas, was out to make money. These weren’t your typical anti-heroes, these people were real asses. Like all good s.o.b.s, eventually you start to like them. Their mission was simple, to return a missing girl to her father. What starts out super simple eventually becomes a struggle for survival as hell literally opens up and your simple task becomes a fight for the future of Earth. Well, something like that anyways.
Gameplay was also excellent. Not only was there non-stop action and everything you’d expect from a survival horror-inspired game, but the puzzles, oh man were they awesome. You know how Resident Evil has some of the most ridiculous puzzles out there. For example, having to power something up by locating a power supply…inside a fridge…on the moon. Obviously this is an exaggerated example, but you know what I’m talking about. With Fear Effect all the puzzles made sense. If you had to power up something, you needed to find the breaker which just happened to be located…in the power room! OMG incredible! Another example would to walking across a glass structure as debris falls and hits the glass. You can see the cracks in the glass and you need to slowly move away from the cracks. Little puzzles like this went a long way to enhance the experience. Even the enemy encounters were puzzles in and of themselves. Occasionally battles would take place where you had only two points of safety, forcing you to move between them while a helicopter stopped firing. Everything made sense, and to this very day that’s an extremely rare occurrence.
What made Fear Effect stand out was its storyline, puzzles, action, and its incredible streaming technology. It was one of the first games to use this tech. While Rockstar would perfect it with GTA III, Fear Effect used a massive four CDs full of information for what amounted to a 10 hour action extravaganza. What this boiled down to was pre-rendered animated cutscenes that actually animated while you played within them. So take the opening sequence as an example. You land on the rooftop of skyscraper in a future Blade Runner-inspired China. As you’re on the rooftop everything around you moves. I mean literally moves. You see vehicles flying by; you see lights in the city go on and off, etc. To this day it remains one of the most impressive sights I’ve ever had while first playing a game. As you progress, the sights and technology get that much more impressive. The only downside is that each scene would only last around 20 seconds before it would pause and reload. Today, I would imagine we could extend that greatly.
When you look at everything Fear Effect did right you had yourself a game I would have easily scored a 9/10 or “Buy” rating today. It was so unlike all the other games on the PlayStation at the time. It remains a classic and one I continue to tell people about. While graphically it might be a little weak today, and the controls surely take some getting used to, it remains a lost gem. Fear Effect 2 was a much more controversial game in that it featured some questionable sexual content, but it too remains a game most people would really get into today. Because of its content it was reviewed quite harshly and eventually lead to the cancellation of Fear Effect Inferno on the PS2, and that lead to Kronos being dissolved. I consider that a crying shame. Today a game like this would likely sell millions only because it featured great gameplay, looked awesome and was so original.
Now I pose the question to you. What game have you played that others just seemed to ignore. What was it about and what made it so original? Everyone has that one game you found awesome, but it just seemed to disappear from everyone else’s line of sight. It doesn’t matter if the media ripped it apart, part of what makes this article fun is that you have the freedom to voice your opinion. Let us know about your lost gem.