Appointment with F.E.A.R. by Steve Jackson (Fighting Fantasy: Book 18)

Super Strength, Psi-Powers, Enhanced Technological Skill (ETS), and Energy Blast. How do you pick only one?

Yes it’s Fighting Fantasy (FF) time; a reissue of Appointment with F.E.A.R. by Steve Jackson to be exact. This time you are a superhero – the Silver Crusader – and you must battle the evil mastermind Vladamir Utoshsk (a.k.a. the Titanium Cyborg) the leader of F.E.A.R. (the Federation of Euro-American Rebels). Personally, I’m not too sure what they were rebelling against, but it does make for a good name for a super-villain conglomerate.

In a change from the traditional sword and sorcery based FF books, this sci-fi romp has dispensed with Gold Pieces, Potions and Items and replaced them with Hero Points and Clues. Supervillians must be tracked down with these clues and made to give up the location of a secret meeting.

Before you start the adventure, you pick a superpower. This choice determines which set of clues you begin the game with, and how you can tackle some of the villains. The game itself is segmented in to a series of days in which you must decide which events (communicated to you over your Crimewatch) you should give your attention too. Over the course of the days you must gather information that will lead you to Vlad, or else the city will suffer a dreadful fate. Of course you can choose to ignore it all and go to work instead, but what self respecting hero cares about the time he gets in to his work (apart from those that like to pay their bills…)

There are more superhero cliques than you can shake a stick at, scattered throughout, but this doesn’t distract from a very good gamebook. In fact, along with some classic comic book illustrations (by Declan Considine), they help to set the tone of the story, managing to get the balance just right between taking itself too seriously and veering too far in to the kitsch.

The use of clues throughout the book virtually prevents cheating and the choice of superpowers gives the reader a lot of scope for playing this book many times. The combat system is unchanged (although as a super hero you aren’t allowed to kill the baddies, only to render unconscious) and along with the use of luck and skill at key points in the game, this means that the gameplay retains the feel of the other titles in the FF series.

While this is not the best FF book that Steve Jackson ever wrote (I’d recommend Citadel of Chaos, or House of Hell), it is an excellent gamebook and will provide hours of enjoyment for kids, young and old. And with the recent slew of Superhero movies it might be a useful way to hook kids in to reading.

And remember, YOU are the HERO!

9/10 An excellent gamebook and will provide hours of enjoyment for kids, young and old.

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