F.E.A.R 3 Review
The F.E.A.R series has been a bumpy ride, the original game was great, the second broke away from the main characters but was still good, and I still don’t get what F.E.A.R Files was supposed to accomplish. Luckily for us, Day 1 Studios have gone back with the original characters and created a game that is as much fun, as it is creepy.
The campaign in F.E.A.R 3 reunites the main characters from the original F.E.A.R game, with brothers Point Man and Paxton Fettel. The story picks up approximately 9 months following the events in F.E.A.R 2 where Alma, their evil ghost like mother is pregnant with the main character from that game, Becket’s child, and they need to stop her. The only problem is the last time these brothers saw each other Point Man shot and killed Fettel. Fettel being a prototype of Armacham Technology’s paranormal experiments, he is now back in spirit form.
You play as Point Man, who is more of a run and gun soldier, where Fettel is able to use supernatural powers such as possessing enemies and telekinesis. The vast difference between the characters abilities really play well together and the two create an interesting dynamic that is fun to watch unfold throughout the story. As you complete each chapter, you then unlock access to replay that chapter as Fettel, creating a whole new way to play the game. For those keep score, the replay value has just increased.
The game may seem like a horror game on the surface but at it’s core is a pretty decent first person shooter. When playing as Point Man you have access to Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, Dual SMG’s, Pistols, a Rocket Launcher and multiple Grenade types. It plays very similar to Call of Duty with fire on RT, zoom on LT and melee by pushing the right stick. Playing as Fettel is a different story altogether. You can stay as Fettel and use a Blast attack on RT, suspend and enemy in the air with LT and then if you choose you can posess and take over their body, then giving you access to their weapons. You can play as this enemy until you die, then you convert back to Fettel. It’s pretty cool to play through the campaign as each and mix up the gameplay. Also available is Slow-Mo. You can press Y to go into a bullet time state and get the jump on the enemies. I found this the most enjoyable when sniping.
Day 1 have added in one the best features the series has seen with Challenges. As you play you can complete challenges such as Kill 25 enemies with SMGs, Kill 20 enemies while in cover or one of my favorites and the easiest, Stay in Cover for 2 min. As you complete the challenges you earn points, and level up. When you reach new level you can learn a new skill or a bonus to previous earned skills. This new feature not only creates a new addictive layer to the game, but makes you feel more invested in the character. Normally shooters save this type of XP system for multiplayer and it really shines in the single player here. The only thing missing was there was no real way to track what you unlocked in-game after it quickly flashes up. You have to go back out to the main menu to check your unlocks if you missed it. Minor but annoying.
Since the name of the game is F.E.A.R, you would assume the game is supposed to be scary. While it may not make you jump out of your seat, it is extremely creepy. Walking down a dark hallway with only the flashlight on your gun, hearing whispers and seeing shadows run by you really creates some fun tension. You never know when something might jump out at you and you are always on guard due to this. I really did feel uneasy at times and I recommend turning down the lights and cranking the speakers to really enjoy this one. Day 1 have also done a great job creating some of the bloodiest, goriest environments to date. It’s like the Rob Zombie movie of video games, in the best way.
Not everything here is great though. To start with they have evolved the cover system and it’s not for the best. I found myself getting stuck in cover sometimes with no way to get out no matter where I moved or what button I pushed. Overall the cover system has potential, I really liked the way you could lean around corners, this should be standard for all cover systems. Another thing that could have been done better is grenade accuracy. I found that after throwing a grenade it had so much bounce, it rarely landed where I wanted it to, but it bounced so far away the blast didn’t come close to any enemies. Sometimes you could get a lucky bounce, or when indoors it wasn’t too bad, but outside it’s not worth hoping for grenade kills. Another annoying thing is you have no radar of any kind, which for a shooter is kind of rare and creates spots where you think it’s safe but it’s really not and the enemies are able to take you by surprise. It’s a sore spot on an otherwise good combat system, but the reason they did it was probably because not knowing where the enemies may come from, really helps create that nervous tension as you go around every corner.
Even though it may take away from the creepiness, F.E.A.R 3 also does something we love, it lets you play the campaign online with a friend. You can always play through it once solo to really enjoy the experience, and then play through it co-op.
That’s right, F.E.A.R 3 supports 2 player online/offline co-op. Since the story revolves around the two brothers working together, it only made sense they would let you play with a friend. If you have a chatty friend, it can take away from the tension of some levels, but overall it’s worth it.
F.E.A.R 3 also has a fairly robust multiplayer system that Day 1 took an interesting approach by making all four modes, 4 player only. Going down a different road with multiplayer isn’t always a good thing, but F.E.A.R 3 pulls it off. The four modes are Contractions, Soul Survivor, F**king Run and Soul King. Contractions is the typical Firefight/Nazi Zombies mode, that mixes ideas from both and while it’s fun, it’s doesn’t do anything innovative to make you stay very long. Soul Survivor starts off randomly picking one player to be a ghost whose goal is turn the other three players before the time runs out, this mode is surprisingly fun. F**king Run is one of the most unique modes they have done here and one of the most fun. Your goal is to run from a deadly fog that is rolling in, if anyone is caught by the fog, game over. While running you also have to dodge and kill enemies in your way, it’s as fun as it sounds. The last mode is Soul King, here you all start as a ghost and need to possess a soldier to do your killing. Each kill you then earn, you pick up the soul from the fallen enemy and earn points, if you die you lose points. At the end of the round the most points wins.
Also as a quick note, to unlock the F**cking Run and Soul Survivors modes you need the code that came with the game. To get this you need to buy the game new. Renters and borrowers would have to buy the modes from the marketplace.
The points you earn in multiplayer also carry over to your single player, and vice versa. So the more you play of each mode, the stronger you get for the other mode as well. This only adds to the replay value as well. Day 1 have created a truly fresh multiplayer experience. It may not dethrone the top-tier shooters, but that’s not the point. They didn’t try to just copy what other games do and instead they created a unique multiplayer experience for players to enjoy while taking a break from the norm.
F.E.A.R 3 does a great job of mixing up the achievements. You have ones for beating each Interval (campaign chapters), completing challenges, reaching certain ranks and performing specific tasks in the campaign such as Kill 10 enemies in a row with Sniper Rifle Headshots. There are also plenty of multiplayer related achievements. The collectible system in F.E.A.R 3 is to find the Alma doll on each level. These are hidden pretty good but you can always replay any chapter on easy to find them.
F.E.A.R 3 is not the greatest shooter out there, with a few gameplay mechanics that don’t work as good as they should, but it does break the mold in spots and gives new life to a crowded genre. If you enjoyed the first 2 games, you will love the new features here. The new challenges/rank system is addictive and should give you plenty of reason to play through the game a 2nd time. The unique multiplayer experience is fun and fresh and if you are deathmatched out, this should help spice things up for you. With the campaign on solo clocking in around 8 hours (depending on difficulty), and then playing as Fettel, then playing co-op and oh ya, a bunch of multiplayer. You could be here for awhile.