The original F.E.A.R. was considered a masterpiece by its fans. It’s inspirations were clearly from Japanese horror films, The Matrix, and The X-Files. But despite it’s nearly flawless core concepts, a lot of gamers were literally too scared to play it. But those of us who crave horror, loved it. It was successful enough to spawn its own expansion packs and a sequel, complete with its own downloadable content. With each iteration, the story was stretched to fit new gameplay. The controls and graphics were altered to suit consoles. And now, F.E.A.R. 3 is upon us, rounding out a trilogy.
Once again, you play as Pointman, the mute protagonist from the original F.E.A.R.. This time around, your intentions with Alma, your mother, are left purposefully nebulous. Joining you in the fracas is your brother, Paxton Fettel, one of the villains from the original F.E.A.R. who is a twisted psychic spirit able to control the minds of men. The duo gun down any and all Armacam soldiers and hellish baddies that stand in their way.
The story, sadly, feels overstretched. Poor Alma is no longer as scary as she used to be. Instead, there is a new fear that occasionally chases her taking the form of a generic monster, reminiscent to the Tool videos from the 90s. Armacam is portrayed as the evil army looking to exploit her supernatural abilities by abducting Beckett, the protagonist of F.E.A.R. 2. So, in the end, what was once scary, you now pity. And what was once a force simply trying to hold Alma’s evil at bay, is now out to crush everything in its path. This redistribution of powers is an odd choice for the designers and feels like a step back in the story. It makes the game feel more like a science fiction shooter with buckets of gore, and less like a horror shooter.
If you were literally too afraid to try a F.E.A.R. game before, now’s your chance. This is easily the least scary game in the entire series.
But, that doesn’t mean the game is terrible. On the contrary, the shooting mechanics were quite good. There’s a nice variety in weapons to be found, however, the shotgun is severely underpowered to the point of almost being useless. We really enjoyed the new cover mechanics that allow you to hide behind any upright object, not just ones that come up to your waist. And body snatching while playing as Fettel is an interesting alternative to the ability to slow time.
We had a great time playing F.E.A.R. 3. The settings are varied, but seldom do you visit any locations with a truly spooky atmosphere. The single player campaign feels to be an appropriate length for a shooter. And as always, F.E.A.R. delivers in the audio department. When you’ve grown tired of the single player campaign, there is, of course, your standard assortment of multiplayer matches. However, this time around there is plenty of co-op to be enjoyed.
The co-op is a fantastic feature in F.E.A.R. 3, and it’s something we hope more first person shooters take advantage of. Aside from playing the campaign together, there are co-op games similar to Left 4 Dead and Call of Duty’s Zombies Mode. One player controls Pointman while the other controls the overpowered Fettel. We played the PC version and found it VERY hard to pair up with anyone playing any type of matches. If you’re looking to enjoy the multiplayer experience, make sure your friends pick up a copy, or check out the console version. However, if you’re not into cooperative gaming, you can still enjoy the maps and challenges that are available to everyone, but in a single player dose.
Aside from the de-scarifying of F.E.A.R., we do have a few more negative points to bring up that everyone should be aware of. For starters, the menu system is TERRIBLE on both console and PC. The cut scenes in between levels feel sub-par for F.E.A.R. standards. The faces and the animation seem more cartoonish than anything else. Also, we are never afraid of a good fight, but there are a few enemy encounters in the game that spike the difficulty from “normal” to “you’ve got to be f*cking kidding me” in a matter of seconds. Happily there aren’t too many of those. The lack of a quicksave function completely rubbed us the wrong way.
There are a ton of very generic first person shooters out there. We can happily say, F.E.A.R. 3 doesn’t feel like one of them. As a F.E.A.R. game, it seems to fall short of its mark of being scary. Alma’s just not cutting it anymore and the spooky atmosphere is non-existent. As a first person shooter, it succeeds in being genuinely fun. Just keep the kiddies away from the screen. F.E.A.R. 3 is an abattoir.
We don’t recommend rushing out and picking this one up at full price, but at a discount, F.E.A.R. 3 will be a decent grab.
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Name: F.E.A.R. 3
Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Developed by: Day 1 Studios
Published by: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release date: June 21, 2011
EG Score: 3 out of 5 / “Worth Trying”