F.E.A.R. 3 Review
Developer: Day 1 Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
The first F.E.A.R. game was one those rare gems; you heard people talk about it and at least a small part of you was trying to tell the rest that it couldn’t possibly be as good as everyone was saying. You felt hope.
Hope is what keeps us going during those dark times when even our own thoughts don’t agree with one other. It’s the same again with F.E.A.R. 3, hoping that it’s going to bring the franchise back to its former glory, hoping that it’s something worth spending time and money on. But is that the case?
STORY: The story in F.E.A.R. 3 follows straight on from the events of F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn, the DLC of the second game, you play once again as Point Man, the main character from the first game in the series, only this time instead of trying to kill your brother (you already did that remember? In F.E.A.R.) you’ve got to work with him to try and figure out once and for all exactly what happened to you both all those years ago. And why your mother is so…odd.
Alma is back too, although you don’t come across her nearly as much as before, and when she does appear it’s generally just for a quick, and ultimately pointless jump scare. What made the first game in the series so scary (I even put it as number one in my ‘Scariest Games of All Time’ article) wasn’t in the scares themselves, it was in the anticipation of the scares. Lights would flicker, books would fly off of the shelves like a scene in Ghostbusters 2, and all that would get you sat on the edge of your seat. That anticipation is totally gone in F.E.A.R. 3. The lights flicker a few times but nothing really kept me on edge. This new entry into the series relies solely on the jump scares, like some cheap teen horror, and for a game series that started off so promisingly, it’s more than a little disappointing to see.
GRAPHICS: The visuals of F.E.A.R. 3 is another part of the game that’s severely disappointing. A lot of the textures in the game look very pixelated when looked at up close, and the weapons themselves look very angular and not realistic at all. When playing a FPS, at least a small amount of believability in the weapons as well as a little bit more time spent on them is expected from most people. You’re going to be looking at them for 8 to 12 hours after all. That’s not what you’re getting with F.E.A.R. 3. Everything is serviceable and doesn’t really detract from the game, it just looks mediocre, a little bit more time spent on modelling and texture work would have gone a long way.
It also seems as if not a lot of time was spent on the models in the game. After a short amount of time you’ll get bored of seeing the same thing fly past you. The third level is set in a warehouse and all of the shelves look exactly the same. Maybe this is to get the same reaction from the player as they would get when going around a maze, but to most people this will just feel repetitive and boring.
SOUND: The audio in F.E.A.R. 3 is probably one of the best parts of the game. When it comes to the horror genre in general, a lot of the emotions that the team behind the piece try to get the person experiencing it to feel are brought across using audio queues that are picked up on, either subconsciously or consciously. The user then starts to feel certain things, like when the music stops in a film and you “just know” that something is about to happen. All of that is here in F.E.A.R. 3. From the heartbeat on the start screen to the sudden silence before Alma appears in front of you. The only bad thing about the sound is the enemies. Not only do they all sound exactly the same as one other, which is a little bit offputting, but they’re constantly announcing what they’re doing and shouting at each other. I’m not a master tactician, but when there’s someone shooting your friends, shouting what you intend to do next doesn’t sound like a good idea.
GAMEPLAY: The gameplay behind F.E.A.R. 3 lies, like most first person shooters, in shooting things in the face before they can shoot you. There’s nothing special about the gameplay, nothing that hasn’t been seen before or done better. The only real thing that the F.E.A.R. franchise does quite well is the slow motion action. Seeing the bullets rip through the air as they enter your opponent’s head at a snail’s pace never really gets old. The down side when it comes to the slow motion action is that it’s used up too quickly and takes too long to regenerate. Most people would be able to understand why, as it makes the whole game a cakewalk when it’s on, but considering that it’s one of the very few fun thing to do in F.E.A.R. 3, it makes me wish I could do it more often.
The co-op part of the gameplay is the part that will probably be played the most often, and enjoyed the most. Most games are better when they’re enjoyed with friends or family and F.E.A.R. 3 is no exception. In the co-op mode one player takes on the role of Point Man while the other player controls Paxton Fettel. Each character has different abilities and brings something special to the party. Player two isn’t just playing a carbon copy of player one, which is what’s seen in most games that have co-op modes. The only bad side about the co-op in F.E.A.R. 3 is that the game has obviously been created from the ground up to be played in that way. This means that when the game is played purely in single player it suffers because of it. If you’ve got a friend or family member that you always play games with then you may well have a blast. If you usually play games on your own you’ll probably feel like there’s something missing the whole time. That’s because there is, and it’s player two.
One of the major selling points of the F.E.A.R. franchise was the artificial intelligence. When the first game came out it was so advanced for it’s time, enemies would hide behind cover or try and flank you, sometimes they would even create their own cover. In F.E.A.R. 3 however, the A.I. doesn’t seem intelligent at all. Often they would run directly at me or kneel down behind a box until I walked right up to them and stabbed them. Nothing fancy or special about it, the enemy just had a deathwish it would seem. Sometimes there’s a glimmer of hope with the enemies, when you’d watch one hide behind something and try and draw you out while another one flanked you, something that made me think that maybe the old A.I. is in there somewhere. Maybe we’ve just got better as players or maybe we’ve just gotten used to intelligent enemies in games. Either way there’s no challenge in F.E.A.R. 3 most of the time, so there’s not much fun either.
LONGEVITY: There’s no real reason to play F.E.A.R. 3 again once you’ve played through the story the first time. Some people may enjoy the co-op of the game, and may feel like putting the game on when they’ve got friends round, but there are so many better co-op games out there that it’s probably not going to happen all that often. The multiplayer modes are fun and a lot of thought has gone into them but unfortunately even those don’t hold up to the multiplayer modes in a lot of other games. The fact that the modes that look the most fun aren’t available to people that don’t have the Online Pass is a detriment to the game. Apart from the die-hard F.E.A.R. fans most people would buy this game pre-owned, they’re not going to have an Online Pass and therefore won’t be able to play these modes.
VERDICT: F.E.A.R. 3 is a game that almost certainly can be missed. It really only exists in order to wrap up the story that we all wanted to see concluded. If you’ve played the other games in the series and just want to finish the series then this is what you’re going to get. It’s not a terrible game, but it’s also not up to the standard of the game that started it all. The story is just one step above being awful, the graphics are simply mediocre and Paxton Fettel should have stayed dead but seemingly hasn’t gotten the message. If you’re looking for a first person shooter to play on your own, skip F.E.A.R. 3, if you’ve got a friend you can play it with, you could do worse, if you’re wanting to finish off the story you’ve been playing for the last 10 years then you’ve really got no choice. You have been warned.