Fear Factor is a stylish new Resident Evil-type action/adventure developed for Eidos Interactive by Kronos, maker of such lackluster PlayStation fighters as Criticom and Cardinal SVN.
Considering this is Kronos' first foray into the genre, the game already looks impressive. By avoiding Gouraud shading and highly detailed texture maps, the developers have given the game's characters a distinctive, anime look. Even more impressive, most of the game's prerendered backgrounds are animated. Smoke billows, neon signs blink, and hovercrafts whisk by, giving the game a highly cinematic look.
On the down side, the developers apparently had to letterbox the screen to allow such an uncommon level of detail, but this only serves to enhance the movie-like atmosphere.
You play as a pistol-packing mercenary out to retrieve a kidnapped girl in a futuristic Hong Kong. As you can see from these screens, the gameplay is highly reminiscent of Resident Evil. Camera angles vary wildly from scene to scene, and there are plenty of mindless henchmen to gun down. Puzzles are of the find-keycard-to-unlock-door-of-the-same-color variety, and cutscenes provide plenty of clues.
The game's primary innovation is a Sneak Mode that allows you to silently creep up behind an enemy and dispatch him with a single shot in the back. Cowardly? Yes, but it's also a great way to conserve ammo and health. According to publisher Eidos, a yet-to-be implemented Fear Meter also will figure prominently into the finished game. (The game's title certainly lends credence to this.) Although we aren't entirely sure, this seems to relate to an enemy's, rather than than the protagonist's, emotional state. Just how you are to exploit this isn't clear yet.
Even with such heavyweight competition as Dino Crisis and Resident Evil 3 on the horizon, Fear Factor's stylish looks and innovative play mechanics may help the game carve out a niche of its own.