I strolled into my review of F.E.A.R. 3 apprehensive. Could a horror game that made such a big splash six years ago still be successful? Had the story run its course and now the developers were just going to the well one time too many? Was our fantastic experience at PAX East playing the game’s multiplayer going to raise my expectations too high? Those are questions I intend to answer over the course of this write-up, so let’s dig in.
F.E.A.R. 3 picks up right after F.E.A.R. 2 wrapped up. Once again, you play the role of Point Man, battling the forces of F.E.A.R. and other nefarious crazies. Instead of being stuck all by your lonesome, in F.E.A.R. 3 you can partner up with a friend who plays as your evil brother, Paxton. If you play the game solely in single player you can only initially do so as Point Man. But as you complete levels you unlock Paxton to use, which adds a completely new dynamic to game, considering he’s a spectre whose main line of defense is possession instead of firearms.
Overall, I found the story of F.E.A.R. 3 to be better than average for the most part. My only issue was that the character of Paxton is a bit silly at times and is a pretty typical mad-crazy villain. I understand his need to be so exaggerated; however, I found my eyes rolling from the ridiculousness of it all more times than I care to recite.
Regarding the scariness of F.E.A.R. 3, when I started playing this game I was fully expecting to get a bit freaked out and for my cage to be rattled. That comes with the territory. I was pleasantly affirmed that this game was up to snuff when I started traversing a level designed within a Costco-type store. With cult members jumping about, wobbly ladders under my feet, and bloody strollers in the hallway, this level had me irked to no end. So much so that I could not play the game after 11pm without getting some serious chills. I’m pretty good with most horror genre games, but there is something about F.E.A.R. that really hits me differently. My best theory is that the developers of this series make serious use of shadows and long pauses in fighting. Not every level is just non-stop blood letting.
The gameplay here is super tight. Playing as Point Man, I felt in perfect control of my weaponry and the gunplay keeps this game near the top of its class. As I was playing, it dawned on me that F.E.A.R. 3 would be the perfect game for a Modern Warfare or Halo player looking for a strong FPS diversion in-between multiplayer matches. Plus, if you’re a fan of co-op, F.E.A.R. 3 has you covered.
Co-op is actually something completely new to the F.E.A.R. franchise. To keep up with the other AAA titles out there, the developers have made the smart decision of making the campaign experience designed not just for one person, but for two. Furthermore, the developers were smart enough to design it as drop in/drop out, so a second player can be added without having to restart the experience. While I spent a lot of my time playing alone, I was stuck on a very difficult mech and opted to try it again with a co-op partner. The boss battle was still a challenge; however, because my teammate was able to revive me when I died, it allowed us for more opportunities to win. Co-op’s inclusion was obviously not an afterthought.
One downside that I did come across was that nothing about this game felt new or innovative. Sure, there are modes included here that are new to the series; however, on the whole, there is nothing that truly makes this iteration of F.E.A.R. standout from the pack. I got the same feeling when I played the later Far Cry games, and I was hoping the devs would really create a piece of new technology that would change the dynamic in a good way. Yes, while the co-op is ingrained in the experience, it’s successful implementation has been done before. It’s great that the devs got it right here, but don’t be fooled that this was something entirely new.
Revolutionary quibbles aside, overall, I am highly impressed by F.E.A.R. 3, despite my premonition that it might under-deliver. This is a solid third entry into the series and should entertain fans of the first two games. Plus, it is a great game for your standard FPS fan impatient for the release of Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Gears of War 3, or whatever else that they are dying to play. Trust me when I say that F.E.A.R. 3 is a scare-filled experience well worth your time and money.