Having already soiled more pairs of pants than an outbreak of diarrhoea in a nursery with Condemned: Criminal Origins, those kings of horror at Monolith have turned their attentions to further decimating our underwear drawers by converting their hit PC shooter F.E.A.R. to the Xbox 360.
With Day:1:Studios in day-to-day charge of the translation from PC to Xbox 360, developer Monolith has been overseeing the project to ensure that all the thrills and bottom-spills of the original game are going to be faithfully recreated. To find out more, we caught up with the game's associate producer Geoff Bent and senior producer Rob Loftus, and got the lowdown on this most terrifying of trigger-tugging adventures - as well as getting our grubby mitts all over the first playable code.
For those of you unfamiliar with the PC version, let's whet your whistle with a little background information. F.E.A.R. or First Encounter Assault Recon is a Special Forces group tasked with investigating paranormal threats to national security. "The game starts with the player investigating a new paranormal threat," begins Loftus as we check we've properly strapped on our man-sized nappy in preparation for the horrors ahead. "A guy called Paxton Fettel - a next generation battlefield commander with a psychic connection to his troops - has escaped from a military installation. Somehow he's gone mad and the department of defence want him back. That's when your team gets sent into action."
What follows is an epic journey through dimly lit, hauntingly eerie locales, populated by scores of enemies, ranging from standard cannon fodder grunts to gruesome, paranormal nasties packing arcane powers. Sent into action with your team, you soon find yourself alone, battling for survival as you search for arch-criminal Fettel in a world that becomes increasingly more spooky and mind-bending with every step you take.
As you progress, the plot unravels through in-game, interactive, cinematic scenes that are set to chill your bones more than a vat of liquid nitrogen. What's more, as well as featuring all of the excitement from the PC version, Bent and Loftus promise that there'll be even greater plot development in this Xbox 360 conversion, thanks to the addition of extra story-driven scenes.
"F.E.A.R. is all about claustrophobia," explains Loftus. "We want to create settings that'll be very familiar to the player, such as an abandoned office building with all the lights turned off. Here's a place that's usually well lit and bustling with action, which is suddenly dark and deserted. If you've ever walked through your work office at night with all the lights turned off, you'll know what an eerie experience it can be."
We get the theory - it's time now to put the game to the test. "Lighting and sound design are huge elements for creating tension," says Loftus as he passes us the ontroller. "Hearing your footsteps echoing in a hollow or empty environment, or hearing the ambient noise of steam passing through pipes can be hugely effective for creating tension."
He's not wrong. We're standing in a dark, dank basement. Somewhere in the distance a light flickers on and off, casting shadows on the walls. Droplets of water sound exaggeratedly loud as they cascade from the ceiling and impact off the concrete floor. Bent and Loftus nod reassuringly, urging us to wade into the sea of darkness.
The tension is unbearable. We can hear movement up ahead. Using the lean function we peek round the turning. Three enemy grunts patrol the area up ahead. There should be no problem taking 'em out. Bellowing a war cry we charge into the open, spitting bullets from our machine-gun as we bear down on our opponents. Then something unexpected happens...