FEAR Tweak Guide
[Page 3] Troubleshooting Tips
This section contains specific troubleshooting tips which address many of the common problems experienced by FEAR players. I can't stress enough the importance of taking the time to go through the checklist of advice below if you're having a problem with the game.
Official Support: The first place to look for official support details is in the Readme.txt file in your \Program Files\Sierra\FEAR directory. Importantly you should check out the minimum system requirements in that file, as well as the supported hardware list, since if any of your hardware is not supported then you will experience problems with the game, or quite simply won't be able to run it. Read through the list of compatibility issues and suggested fixes as well. If you're still having problems you should definitely pay the Official FEAR Forums a visit. There you can find such useful things as a range of official fixes for common problems, and you can also post any questions or feedback you have there as well. Also read this Official FEAR FAQ.
Windows Vista Users: If you're having problems running this game under Windows Vista, first make sure that you're using the latest Vista graphics and audio drivers for your hardware, and the latest version of this game (see page 4 for patch details). Next, make sure you don't change your UAC settings after the game has been installed, as due to Virtualization this can change the location of the game files and settings. If you can't launch the game successfully when UAC is enabled, you will need to run the game with full Admin privileges. To do this either right-click on the launch icon and select 'Run as Administrator', or right-click on the launch icon, select Properties and under the Compatibility tab tick 'Run this program as an administrator' then click OK. I strongly recommend that you refer to the TweakGuides Tweaking Companion for Windows Vista for more information - in particular check the 'Gaming in Vista' section of the Graphics & Interface chapter; the UAC section of the PC Security chapter; and the 'Personal Folders' and 'Directory Junctions & Symbolic Links' sections of the Windows Explorer chapter. These will tell you how you can fix game-related issues and also explain the relevant differences of Vista.
SecuROM Issues: The secuROM copy protection system is a method used while creating the game CD/DVD to embed a form of security encryption onto the disc. This is done not so much to prevent copying/cracking by hardcore pirating groups - they defeat it just fine. It's more to prevent casual copying, like making a burnt copy for your friend. Unfortunately secuROM also causes a wide range of annoying problems, from problems authenticating the disc through to irregular crashes and lock-ups. The first thing you should do is go through the list of fixes in this thread on the official FEAR forums. Note in particular the solutions near the bottom of that first post. Also disable or even uninstall all disc emulation/image mounting software - these typically conflict with secuROM. If you're not using any emulation software and you get the 'Required Security Module' error, try this fix. The bottom line is that you may not overcome your problems with secuROM; it is a terrible copy protection method which punishes legitimate users of games.
Sound Issues: FEAR seems to have some issues with sound. These can cause a range of symptoms, from missing sounds, to popping/hissing, to stuttering performance. You must read the Readme.txt file for some of the basic solutions which actually can fix your problems, then if that doesn't work check this thread on the Official FEAR Forums as well as this official FEAR Knowledgebase Article. Check the In-Game Settings section of this guide as well as the FEAR Config Tool section for more details of how to troubleshoot audio problems.
The Latest Graphic Drivers: Since FEAR is so dependent on your graphics card, make absolutely certain you have updated to the latest graphics card drivers. This means the ATI Catalyst 6.9 or newer; or the Nvidia Forceware 91.47 or newer. See page 4 of my ATI Catalyst Tweak Guide or Nvidia Forceware Tweak Guide for details on where to download the latest drivers and how to install them cleanly. If you use an ATI Graphics card, also check the Conclusion of this guide under the 'ATI Performance Boost' section for more details.
In-Game Lag/Freezes/Stuttering: A number of people are complaining about "stuttering" performance in FEAR. There are several possible causes for this problem, and the suggested solutions are covered in this thread on the Official FEAR Forums. One thing not mentioned in that list is the possibility that secuROM is causing the problems, but the only possible fixes for that are mentioned further above. And of course, make absolutely sure that you have run the Windows Defragmenter after installing FEAR, as the game is almost 5GB in size and if its files are fragmented this can greatly increase your stuttering and in-game loading pauses.
Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering: To make sure Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering work properly in the game, first go to your graphics card's control panel, and for Nvidia cards under the Performance & Quality Settings in the Global Driver Settings section select 'Application Controlled' for Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering. For ATI cards go to the 3D section of the Control Panel/Control Center and select 'Application Preference' for Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering. Now you can go into FEAR and set the level of Antialiasing (FSAA) and Anisotropic Filtering (Texture Filtering) you wish to use in the Performance>Advanced Video Card Options section. If you are unfamiliar with what Antialiasing or Anisotropic Filtering do, see my Gamer's Graphics & Display Settings Guide. Keep in mind that any Antialiasing can noticeably reduce performance.
Virus Scan: Do a full scan of all your files using the following excellent (and free) tools: AVG Virus Cleaner for viruses, A-Squared for trojans, and Ad-Aware SE for spyware/adware. Viruses, trojans and spyware can cause unexplained behavior, general file corruption and system slowdown, and can also steal your CD Key. It's best to make sure your system isn't infected before moving on to any other optimization measures. However make sure to disable any background scanning programs once you're done (See below).
Background Programs: The game's developers recommend that you disable all background applications - especially virus, trojan and spyware scanners and messaging utilities. These applications can and do use up valuable CPU resources, take up precious RAM, cause memory conflicts and crashes to desktop, but most importantly they interfere with read/writes to your hard drive effectively slowing it down and causing even more in-game freezes and stuttering. Full instructions on how to identify your startup programs and services and how to correctly disable unnecessary ones are in my TweakGuides Tweaking Companion. This is an important step you should not miss.
Overclocking: FEAR is sensitive to overclocking. If you've overclocked any components on your system and are having problems such as crashes, reboots and graphical anomalies, the first thing to do is set everything back to default speeds and try running the game. If you don't experience the same problems at default speed, or they're reduced in severity, then your overclock is the primary culprit. Either permanently reduce your overclock and/or increase cooling to regain stability. Don't assume that because other games run with stability at a particular speed that FEAR will do the same.
There are a range of problems similar to the ones above which people are experiencing with FEAR. However if you follow the advice in this guide, you should be able to play the game more smoothly. Just be realistic about balancing eye candy with performance. Aside from secuROM issues and a range of compatibility issues which are known and noted above and in the game's Readme.txt file, you need to focus on tightening up your system as much as possible. Read the guides I link to under Essential Optimization above for more details on how to do that.
That's just a basic rundown of troubleshooting tips. Read the remainder of this guide for more specific settings and tweaks which can help improve your performance and resolve any problems.