F.E.A.R. 3 Review
If you're like me, you preordered F.E.A.R. 3 sometime around January and had to wait, only for it to be pushed back month after month. Needless to say, when June 23rd came around, I was more than eager.
F.E.A.R. 3 is a first-person shooter and the third installment of the paranormal series that follows the spectral girl/woman Alma. After the, um, shocking and graphic ending to F.E.A.R. 2, Alma is expecting. What else can bring a murderous family together like a bouncing bundle of hate? Point Man, the protagonist from the original F.E.A.R., is back. This time he has an uneasy alliance with his psychotic and spectral brother Paxton Fettel. When boiled down, this game is about two brothers who hate each other attempting to work together, settle some family drama, and reach their mother in time to meet their new sibling. In this sense, it sounds like a heartwarming TV movie. Add guns, wraiths, cannibalism, and an abusive father figure and you got yourself a game.
You play F.E.A.R. 3 as Point Man---the familiar nameless, gun-hoarding, bullet-time wielding mute. Do not fret! He still has the slow-mo power (reflex-time) that has been getting you easy head shots since 2005. This slow-mo power is similar to Max Payne and the soldier from Mass Effect 2. Point Man can also melee attack, baseball slide (as I call it), and jump kick. As a side note, I played F.E.A.R. 3 on Xbox and the default input for the kick is A + R.stick. Who thought that was easy? After you finish each level, you unlock play as Fettel.
Playing as Fettlel is a completely new and enjoyable experience. The ghostly brother of Point Man is completely self-efficient. This means there's no need for guns or other pick-ups. His abilities include firing an energy bolt, picking up enemies and suspending them in air, picking up explosive environmental objects and tossing them, melee fighting, and possessing enemies. The possession ability makes the controls the same as Point Man minus the slow-mo ability; he can pick up ammo, throw grenades, etc. At any time, Fettel can burst though the body he is occupying and kill it, reverting to his natural state. One combo suspends an enemy in air and melees it for an instant kill.
F.E.A.R. 3 has a coop mode so two players, either via split screen on internet, can play as both the brothers at the same time. Fettel enters slow-mo whenever Point Man uses it and Fettel can give Point Man a damage-resistant shield. My suggestion is to raise the difficulty if you go coop since the game doesn't compensate much for two characters at once. A coop mode is not something I would have expected from a title like F.E.A.R., but I had a blast playing it.
Gameplay is pretty standard for the other F.E.A.R. games besides what has been previously mentioned. As usual, there are opportunities to combat and control mechs. There are new Armacham challenges, as well. The Phase Casters create replica soldiers around them until you kill the Caster and Phase Commanders, who walk through walls and teleport around the environment. F.E.A.R. 3 also adds a cover system for combat. This makes for more exciting gun fights and allows you to volley over certain terrain. F.E.A.R. 3 no longer uses heath bars or armor bars. Instead it has adapted the popular FPS health system of regeneration if you stay clear of combat for a short while (like CoD).
The AI highly increases per difficulty level. On Insane, the replica soldiers become sharpshooters with sub-machineguns. The AI are entertaining in their speech during gunfights. They yell out to their squad mates so you know when they have a visual of you, and they like to mention what you are hiding behind. One even told me I was hiding behind a vending machine.
The graphics and environments are delightful for a horror setting---jails, sewers, cult homes, meat freezers, post-apocalyptic bridges, and my favorite, a whole goods store. While the environments are set, F.E.A.R. 3 fails at scares. The backbone of the F.E.A.R. experience is, well, fear. While Alma had a few appearances, I felt disappointed by the lack of cheap scares. F.E.A.R. 2 was such an improvement over the original in this department, and F.E.A.R. 3 did not continue the trend. If you play through the game for the first time in coop, you are going to miss many of the scares since they only happen once and for whoever triggered the event.
Besides the story mode, there are also four multiplayer modes, each with a few levels. My favorites of the four are Contractions and F***ing Run! Contractions is very similar to Call of Duty’s popular Nazi Zombies. You and your teammates are bunkered down in a multi-floored structure, where you can put up barriers to the outside to stop enemies from entering. Each wave gets more difficult. Alma wanders around the map laughing and playing hopscotch during the action. If you look at her for too long or shoot her, your screen goes dark and your movement is slowed, often resulting in death. Alma adds an extra element that can cause an instant lose or at least block an exit for a period of time.
F***ing Run is exactly what it sounds like. You have to keep moving or you are going to be consumed by a soul wall. You and your squad need to battle though enemies on your way to checkpoints to rearm and take a breather. If one squad mate is killed by the wall, you lose. While this might not sound difficult, it is heart-pounding. The later you get in the maps, the harder it gets. More difficult enemies, harder terrain, ladders, paths that make you run perpendicular to the wall, etc.
In conclusion, F.E.A.R. 3 is a good shooter with unique elements that make the FPS stand out. The coop mode is an experience I definitely suggest. While the story mode is not particularly long, the multiplayer adds more game time. F.E.A.R. 3 has replay potential. Since there are two characters you can play as, that is at least two play-throughs and one more for a coop play-though. The game on Insanity proposes a challenge but is very beatable if you take your time. While the “fear” element decreased, the gameplay increased greatly with the third game of the series.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]