Wizard Books, £4.99, ISBN 1-84046-527-1
Sci-fi, 2004 (Reissue)
Appointment With F.E.A.R. is a cute and entertaining parody of superhero comics. Set in Titan City, this campaign allows you to play as the Silver Crusader, a superhero with great powers and greater sense of justice. You are born with great powers as a result of “an experimental form of genetic surgery” that somehow involves “radiation experiments” being performed on your mother while she was carrying you. With your robotic assistant called Crimewatch and an informant named Gerry the Grass, you fearlessly keep Titan City safe from villains.
When the campaign starts, Gerry the Grass alerts you of an important meeting taking place within the next few days involving Vladimir Utoshki, the nasty villain of the Federation of Euro-American Rebels (FEAR) and his cohorts. Utoshki is Titanium Cyborg, a bad guy which electronic enhancements made to his body is that he is a match for you. Your mission therefore is to locate more clues about this meeting so that you can crash it and nab those villains. The thing is, how are you going to get those clues?
You are given two clues at the start of the campaign by Gerry. Also, along with the usual stats, you also pick one out of four super powers for yourself. If you pick Super Strength, then Silver Crusader is akin to Superman – you can fly and your Combat Skill is automatically 13 at all time. Psi-Powers turns you into a superhero more in the vein of Jean Grey and Dr Strange – but each use will cost you 2 Stamina Points. Enhanced Technological Skill or ETS turns you into Batman with your arsenal of gadgetry. However, you are a wimp and therefore ETS doesn’t provide you with weapons of mass destruction. Finally, Energy Blast allows you to automatically stun an opponent if you roll below your Combat Skill but each use costs you 2 Stamina Points.
Appointment With F.E.A.R. pays homage to popular comics out there. Even the illustrations are patterned after panels in a comic book. The borderline campy tone of the campaign, the design of the villains, and the amusing takes on places patterned after real life (Wisneyland theme park, for example) are all cleverly put together to give you the impression that this is an interactive comic book. It’s all droll, very clever, and most amusing, especially with all that spandex present in this story.
However, this is not an easy gamebook. It’s written and designed by Steve Jackson, after all. Unless you are really lucky, you will need to play this one at least twice in order to get the correct clues and actually take down the villain without meeting a bad end. Not that this is a chore, really, because the whole thing is way too much fun even on the second or third run. If you love comics and gamebooks, Appointment With F.E.A.R. could have very well be written with you in mind.