How much fear can one game deliver? In the case of F.3.A.R (also called Fear 3) I discover that the third installment in the storyline of Alma and her sons “Point Man” and Paxton Fettel, doesn’t deliver the heart stopping stimulations of the first two games. The F.E.A.R. franchise is famous for random psychic interactions with nightmares crawling from pools of blood, and shadows running across corridors when you least expect them. What it lacks in namesake it makes up for with game play action and multiplayer content.
The game comes from a different developer than the first two, Day 1 Studios, and released on June 21, 2011 in North America on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Fear 3 boasts a climactic event for the franchise, where Alma Wade, the powerful psychic entity that is the mother to the two main characters, produces a startling ending. You play as “Point Man”, the hero/player character of the first two installments who due to experimentation on his mother’s psychic abilities is bestowed with the ability to slow down time and has ungodly reflexes. The big change is this time you get help from your prodigal brother Paxton Fettel, who is a powerful ethereal psychopath that played the antagonists role before this installment. The objective of the game’s campaign mode, with a script co-written by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and with cinematic cut scenes directed by none other than John Carpenter (Halloween, Escape From New York) is for the two brothers to work together to get back to Fairport, the location of Project: Origin and find their mother Alma. All the while they attempt to decrypt their childhood growing up together in the Armacham Security Facility.
The first feeling just jumping into the menu on the PC edition is that the game is intended for console, and ported to the PC. This interpretation is confirmed a few seconds into play. The mouse controls are awkward compared to similar First Person Shooter’s (FPS). Within a few minutes of game play I adjusted my controls for sensitivity; I play a little longer, and then wish I have an Xbox controller for this title alone. The controls grow on you when the action escalates, but it never completely feels right. Movement throughout the game feels clunky, and smooth navigation in a FPS is a must.
The game comes complete with all the gore familiar to the first two titles, but it just doesn’t scare as well. Much of the fright seems unoriginal. The lighting in the F.E.A.R. Trilogy involves overhead fluorescent bulbs flickering on their last leg and outdoor environments depicting apocalyptic skylines. As lights flicker or go out, vivid nightmares of the imagination appear. In F.3.A.R., the environment is naturally gloomy, and though the graphics are rendered well, it doesn’t carry with it the ominous feel that an F.E.A.R. title should.
Although the title has lost its bread it still has some butter. The game’s action is first rate, with a well-managed “cover” system where you will use your local environment as a shield during firefights. Another great addition is the co-op campaign option where one player plays as “Point Man” and the other gets to command Paxton Fettel.
Let me just say, playing as Paxton Fettel is a real joy. The character has several bloody destructive abilities against enemy NPC’s, but he also has a little tool called possession. Any NPC you encounter while playing Paxton can be possessed, which means you suddenly jump into their skin, and can commence your un-righteous path of exploding lead and telekinetic blood boiling from a similar perspective as “Point Man”.
Finally even with clunky controls the action and speed of the game is very satisfying. The multiplayer adds some great playtime once the campaign mode becomes all too familiar. There are four different multiplayer modes, “F^cking Run”, where your team must reach checkpoints while being followed by a wall of death. “Contractions” where your team holds off waves of enemies while building defenses. “Soul Survivor” is where four players battle it out but one plays as a “Spectre”, given the task of possessing the other players. Finally “Soul King” where four players battle it out, but each one has “Spectre” abilities.
If you’re looking for some assured chill factor you will run into disappointment, but the storyline and cinematic scenes are exceptional. Overall the action keeps the game stimulating and leaves you bracing to turn each corner in hopes of continuing your bloodbath. The multiplayer elements and the co-op really add fun with a mix of new ingredients. F.3.A.R. Is missing the horror seeds planted from the original two games, but the new developer made sure that the game keeps you interested and won’t sit idle in a bargain bin.
Written by: Justin Blackstone