Since I built a new computer about a week ago, I’ve been going through all the great games I’ve missed for the last year, when I found that my old Althon 64 just wasn’t cutting it anymore. The list is long: Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Guild Wars, Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, etc. There was also Supreme Commander and Command and Conquer 3 but I just can’t be bothered to play RTS games. However, everyone knows that the latest and greatest hardware shines best when it goes up against first person shooters.
I had a few that I wanted to play but the ones that were supposed to be the best were F.E.A.R. and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadows of Chernobyl. I knew that F.E.A.R. was supposed to be scary but only 20 minutes in, I had to turn on my lights! I haven’t been this scared since the classic System Shock 2. When that freaky little black-haired girl showed up at the top of the ladder I was climbing down, I nearly had a heart attack. And they keep flashing pictures of bloody dead people in single frames like Fight Club‘s Tyler Durden does with penises in children’s movies.
They really took some cues from Asian horror cinema. The idea is to freak you the hell out with what you’re not seeing and show you as little as possible. It’s seriously heart-pounding. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. isn’t quite the same but when those freakish mutants jump out of nowhere, it gives you a nice jolt.
I’m wondering if this is some kind of trend with first-person shooters, that people are tired of just shooting bad guys and want to wet their pants a little. Heck, even Half-Life 2 had that zombie level that totally had me in goosebumps. Scary seems to be the way to go with current FPSes. However, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and F.E.A.R. have good gameplay to back it up. There have been countless other games that try to do the horror formula but forget what’s scary. Throwing a million aliens at me isn’t scary. I mean, Duke Nukem taught us all something other than vaporware and that’s “COME GET SOME!”
However, I still think the scariest game of all time was System Shock 2. Just that sense that you were completely alone (well, the only…human anyways) on board a gigantic spaceship where everyone had been killed or commited suicide or turned into horrible mutants while being taunted by a freakin’ computer along with all the strange ambience and sounds…it’s quite a bit to process. That and the total lack of ammo in that game…and what a game. It’s still one of the best of all time. I think it’s spiritual successor that will be out this August, Bioshock may turn out to be a new best and I hope it’s just as freaky as the first two.
…just keep that little black-haired girl the hell away from me.