Fear and the Art of Leaning

Imagine you’re at the corner of a hallway.

You suspect that in this hallway, are men waiting to shoot you. They’ve got guns, they want to press the triggers on those guns, and send bullets flying into your body.

But, there’s a catch, ya? YOU also have a gun. You’re the good guy with the gun.

So how are you gonna play it, good guy? You just need to conquer this wall and let the bullets fly.

Will you:

a) peek around the corner, only exposing your own weapon and the tiniest amount of your face necessary for you to see.

b) keep a straight posture, and reveal half of your entire body just to take a look.

Look, I’m not going to be any more of an asshole here. Let me just talk about leaning in first-person-shooter games, specifically F.E.A.R., and how it was perfect and the games just kept getting worse after that SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE OF THE ABSENCE OF LEANING.

F.E.A.R.
The most perfect military-shooter about ghost-girls ever made. This game had it all. Incredible enemy A.I. that kept you on your toes, fun and useful slow-motion, and, of course the ability to lean.

When you can lean, the world is your cover. Look out there, Simba. Anything you see, you can hide behind. 90% of firefights in F.E.A.R. take place in offices, and every single one in fun because I can lean around corners and blast people’s heads off with a shotgun. When you can lean in a first-person-shooter, you have an option that isn’t in other shooters.

It’s the option to not get shot.

Regenerating-health used to be a very controversial issue. It’s not anymore. That battle has been lost, because we couldn’t lean. In this case, leaning means “not dumbing down shooters for console players with their miserable controllers”

When I play F.E.A.R., I can go through entire levels without receiving a single bullet. Which is great, because there’s no regenerating health. Which is also great, because there doesn’t have to be.

But how can I do that? Simple: by leaning.

When I used to play Call of Duty, I remember very specifically in Modern Warfare, this oneeee room in this oneeeeeeee level, where I knew there was an enemy. In F.E.A.R., I could have geeently leaned in and shot his face clean off. But Modern Warfare, like the majority of shooters, didn’t have this SIMPLE-AND-EFFECTIVE MANEUVER. So instead, I had to expose half of my body just to get a look inside. On higher-difficulties, enemies have greater reaction-times and accuracy, so this almost always meant taking a bullet even though I got him. But that’s okay of course because I have regenerating health. I shouldn’t caaaaare that I’m playing a normal soldier who can be riddled with bullets and never die. God I hate everything.

Some uh guy from, Naughty Dog I think it was, explained how Nathan Drake from Uncharted can take bullets and live. He described the obvious-blood covering our screens as “luck running out”, and it’s only when we actually die that we ever actually took a bullet. And that’s nice. That calms my autism a bit. But we wouldn’t need to make rationalizations like that (sweet, sweet lies as well) if we could just lean in video games.

I’m not a huge “realism” guy. I don’t like “realistic” graphics. I generally don’t care whether a scenario is “realistic” or not. But when you experience something as magical as leaning, why would you ever want to go back? And I DO care about reasoning. And there’s no good reaso– oh god you know what else I hate? How in almost every fucking shooter, the 1 round in the chamber is entirely ignored when you reload. If you reload a new magazine without having expended the last one entirely, you should have 1 extra round in your ammo count. Call of Duty gets it wrong, uh, Killing Floor gets it wrong. You know what gets it right? S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which ALSO HAS LEANING, HELL YEAH. Oh, I wonder if Siege gets it right. I know it has leaning at least. If it gets the one-in-the-chamber right, maybe I should redown–

I’m going off into the weeds here, I just want to talk about F.E.A.R. right now. THIS IS A FEAR POST, PRIMARILY. Look, here’s my bottom line– every shooting game should have leaning. It’s just that simple. Now just for fun, let’s examine how bad F.E.A.R. ends up getting in its sequels.

F.E.A.R.2
It’s aight.

Fear 2 isn’t a bad game. The story is actually pretty decent. It’s pretty much just as scary as the first game. The combat is nice, but it’s missing something. I wonder what it cou– oh yeah, leaning. It doesn’t have leaning. For no good reason, leaning was removed. What a horrible world we live in, right? You know what they replaced leaning with? You can now knock over shelves and stuff to make cover.MOTHER FUCKER, THE WORLD WAS MY COVER BEFORE. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? And of course, these pieces over cover you can created are largely worthless. They’re too short, or too thin to conceal you. You’re better off hiding behind corners again. Absolutely miserable. Still, overall, a good game. Alma’s a QT, I’d let her rape me, too. Oh, and you can vault over things. T-that’s neato…

F.3.A.R.
The worst military-shooter about ghost-girls ever made. I’m not going to shit too much on it, even though it’s awful and I hate it and it never should have been made. It’s not scary, that combat is not fun, the guns look like toys, it’s absolute shit.

But there’s some things I like about it. I like that they added a knife. I’m a big knife guy. I like that you can kick open doors. Uh, the co-op was kinda fun. Oh hey, they even added LEANING AGAIN***

***EXCEPT IT’S NOT REAL LEANING, IT’S A SHITTY COVER-SYSTEM WHERE YOU STILL KEEP A STRAIGHT POSTURE AND UNNECESSARILY EXPOSE YOUR BODY. HEY BUDDY? REMEMBER WHEN THE WORLD WAS MY COVER? WHAT ARE YA DOIN’ BIG GUY?

Now, in a horrible, cruel, twist of irony, the cover-*system* actually favors controllers. Why? Because with a controller, you can geeeently move how far out you peak. You can actually move out such a little amount, the enemy A.I. CANNOT LAND SHOTS ON YOU. In that regard, because of the terrible fucking A.I., it’s actually *MORE EFFECTIVE* THAN FEAR1, JUST BECAUSE THE STUPID A.I. CAN’T SHOOT YOU. God, what did I do to deserve this.

Still, this is SURELY an improvement over having the NO LEANING at all from Fear2, right? WRONG.

In F.E.A.R.2, you still had an incredible slow-motion ability that allowed you to beat the crap out of your enemies before they even knew what hit them. So even though you couldn’t lean, you could at least still pull off badass fights without getting turned into swiss cheese.

Fear3’s slow-mo is GIMPED. So fuck me, fuck you, fuck us all. You know what would have made the gimped slow-mo tolerable? You know what allowed us to play Fear1 like badasses without even using slow-mo?

You know what it is.

Jesus Christ once said “Leaning is the way, the truth, and the life. No-one comes to the hallway except through leaning.”

God gave us leaning for a reason. And it’s nothing short of sacrilege when a FPS doesn’t use it.

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