FEAR 3, by WaaghPowa

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This if my first review, by no means am I a writer or English major, I simply felt compelled to share my thoughts on this game.

So FEAR 3, or F.3.A.R, if you're pretentious.

I first experienced FEAR on it's initial release in 2005 for PC, and I genuinely found it creepy. Not necessarily scary in all places, but the atmosphere being dark, semi-quiet environments put me in a state of unrest, frequently making me jump out of my seat and emit a short scream when something actually jumped out at me. The action was great, well-paced, sometimes frantic, and enemies seemed competent in their abilities to put many small holes in me with their guns. Although, that didn't stop me from blowing them up into red misty clouds of their own blood when I managed to get to them with a shotgun. It will always remain, in my books, as a solid first person shooter that successfully incorporated elements of psychological horror with supernatural horror. Or at least enough to make my very short list of games that have actually scared me.

Then along came FEAR 2: Project Origin in 2009. This game kept a lot of what made the original so good with some minor, though seemingly pointless, changes, such as the ability to move objects for cover. This rarely got used, or at least when I played it on the PS3. Though it wasn't as scary as it's predecessor, it still remained a solid shooter with good pacing and atmosphere.

Now we have FEAR 3.

I will avoid going into detail of the plots of the first and second games in order to avoid spoilers. The gist is: Evil company creates army of super clones that can be controlled off the battlefield by a psychic. Their main test subject, Alma, who was supposedly controlling the main villain Paxton Fettel, goes crazy and makes the soldiers attack, so they send in F.E.A.R operatives. F.E.A.R stands for First Encounter Assault Recon, a special task force trained specifically to deal with instances of the supernatural, Point man, being one of them. Some crazy shit goes down, they think they killed Alma, second game happens blah, blah, etc, etc.

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She just wants a hug

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FEAR 3 takes place almost immediately after 2. The main protagonists "Point man" (I don't remember if they ever mention his real name in the other games, but it also seems strange that he is simply referred to as "Point man") from the original FEAR and Paxton Fettel, the dead villain from the same game. Point man (or PM for short, for the sake of this review) is a genetically modified super soldier who possess unnaturally quick reflexes which, from his perspective, slows down time. Fettel on the other hand, being a ghost and all, possesses a few powerful psychic abilities, one being the ability to possess enemies and control them.

The story begins in a dirty cell, where PM is being beat down by a pair of soldiers. Fettel intervenes, possessing one and killing the other. Using his massive strength, PM breaks out of his bindings and quickly kills the soldier Fettel had possessed (Though it's strange that if he could break out of his bindings, why didn't he do so in the first place?). PM and Fettel then go off to reunite with their mother, Alma, because they were brothers from all that testing and shit (What a twist!). From there on are a series of corridors ranging from a prison, to a highway, to an airport. All of which are filled with enemies who want you dead.

Right, now onto game play.

FEAR 3 is a solid shooter, everything works as well as you'd expect. Controls are pretty smooth, responsive, have a comfortable layout etc. It uses the almost obligatory 2 weapon limit as per many modern shooters, as well as a assortment of grenades. These include flashbangs, for making your enemies see stars, shock grenades, to pump them with electricity and, our classic favourite, frags which on occasion will reduce your enemies to a fine red mist. Some guns featured in this game are an SMG, which you will probably use the most since everyone carries them, a shotgun and, my personal favourite, the bolt gun which shoots steel bolts.....yeah.

Gone are the ways of old, where one would stock up on med kits and pick up Kevlar armour whenever it was found. Now one relies on the obligatory regenerating health system. I don't have a problem with regenerating health, it works great in certain games, but the FEAR series never used it till now, and the games worked perfectly fine without it. Why did they feel to add this now? Better late than never I suppose.

Now, since I played the single player, I was forced to play as PM, though you have an option after you complete a chapter to replay it as Fettel, wherein you use your many supernatural powers to possess, dismember, and explode your way to success. In addition to the earlier mentioned array of weapons, you possess the ability to activate bullet time a la Max Payne. Though everything around you slows down, the speed at which you aim and reload stay the same, giving you a considerable advantage. Though keep in mind that it doesn't last forever, and will quickly drain, so don't expect it to carry you. In addition to your bullet time, a sticky cover system has been added to the game. When you hit the appropriate key near an appropriate piece of cover, you will automatically duck behind it. Pushing forward or to the sides will cause you to pop up over the cover, or to the side if you're against the edge, giving you line of sight. Looking down the sights of your gun will also pop you out from cover, as well as when throwing grenades.

Melee attacks are another part of gameplay. Not just simply taking out your knife and stabbing someone in the face, no no. They've preserved, for the most part, the same melee attacks available in the previous titles. Though this is limited to a couple of kick moves, it's still freaking awesome to run and flying-kick a dude in the face.

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Mighty foot engaged

The combat itself seems much faster paced than the previous titles of FEAR. The pacing feels off, there's no down time like there was in the previous titles. It feels much closer to a military shooter than it's predecessors. Aside from that, it is solid, and pretty much what you would expect from an FPS.

As far as environments go, FEAR 3 is somewhat diverse. Early on, I was fighting in a prison, then made my way to a suburb, fighting crazy people who are oddly familiar to the infected from Left 4 Dead. From there I made my way to a big box store, which more of these wackos inhabited, and eventually made my way to an airport. Much of these environments are dark and covered in bloody wall writings in an attempt to make you uneasy. Now, I say "in an attempt" because this game is far from being as scary as the previous games, if at all. As stated before, combat seems to happen too frequently and quickly that you really don't have much time to see much of the scenery.

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AHH BLACK FRIDAY WALMART SHOPPERS!

At first glance, many of these places actually looked good, but after a closer look, I found more and more places in the game where I thought the developers really skimped on the quality. A lot of textures seem rather bad, and some backgrounds are atrocious. For example, I made my way into a house during the suburb stage and I happen to glance out the window. Out of the window, I saw the street and a row of houses.....if they were painted on a piece of wood and nailed in front of the glass. My first reaction was *facepalm*.

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....like what you've done with the place. What is that, Picaso?

Some terrain and cover is also destructible. I remember there being talk about how during a shoot out, your cover would eventually crumble and force you to move to a new piece of cover. I will tell you right now, that's a lie, mostly. Throughout my time playing the game, the only cover I was behind that was ever destroyed was a wooden fence.

On a random side note, one thing that this game does very well is blood. Not just the red mists I mentioned earlier when your enemies explode, but your own. It's hard to notice, but when you're shot while behind cover, you can actually see your blood on the cover, dripping down. I thought it was interesting.

My thoughts: I felt that FEAR 3 was poor as far as the single player campaign goes. It's blatantly obvious that this game was designed to be played co-op. Some of the things that lead me to believe this include an arbitrary stat and scoring system for things such as "Kill 10 enemies with weapon X" or "Use slow mo for X seconds". Then at the end of every chapter, it scores me and calls me "The favourite son" despite the fact that I wasn't playing with anyone else. It's like that crap they did in the Medal of Honour game, where they would show the stupid headshot symbol every time you shot an NPC in the face.

I also felt that it was very linear. Not that linearity is necessarily a bad thing, but the problem was just how obvious it's linearity was. Things like corridors and the inability to jump over objects that you would normally be able to jump over. What really got to me were instances where a door would explicitly say "locked" and a horde of enemies would appear for me to paint the walls with blood. Once said enemies were dead, the door magically opened. (Holy crap, Zelda FPS!)

Another thing, why the hell do a lot of shooters feel the need to put in a hit indication marker every time you shoot a target? This may be the old school shooter in me talking, but was there ever a demand for feedback beyond blood coming out of your target and a scream to indicate that you had shot someone? Especially in a single player game.

What I loved about the FEAR series seems to be gone, and probably isn't coming back. To be honest, the whole time playing FEAR 3, I was thinking to myself "I want to go back and play the originals" because this game just isn't fun for single player anymore. It reminds me how developers seem to think that all we want is co-op or multiplayer, so they make their single player content poorer for it. What's strange is, FEAR was about the single player when it was originally released and multiplayer was an after thought. What else I missed about the first FEARs that this one left out, was the downtime between fights where you wandered from point to point, soaking up the atmosphere and feeling uneasy that something might jump out and shred your face off. There was a degree of exploration that FEAR had that would reward you with armour, weapons, health and even boosts to your health/slow mo bar.

Bottom line:
This game is fun if you just need to fill your FPS fix or if you have a friend who you would be able to play co-op with all the time. Aside from that, this game has little to offer as far as a single player campaign. It's a co-op/multiplayer game. Fans of the original games will be disappointed.

65%

This is based on the PC version of FEAR 3,. $49.99 US on Steam.

Random anecdote: I have a Mage in World of Warcraft named Fettel, because I equated magic to being the fantasy version of psychic powers. Eerily enough, there was a priest in the human starting area chapel named "Brother Paxton", creepy coincidence huh?

Thanks for this review, I was nervous about this game, having been dissapointed by the second (Like you, I found it was a solid FPS, but the horror elements made little sense and by around the third act I was so sick of QTE's and the poor attempts at creepiness, I mean seriously, a zombie trying to rape you every 15 paces is not suspenseful!)
I'm glad that I didn't purchase it, thankyou.

I wish they could just make some straight forward sequels like Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate that could actually scare me again...

WaaghPowa:
Once said enemies were dead, the door magically opened. (Holy crap, Zelda FPS!)

Ah, this sort of thing really annoys me. In Zelda it doesn't, as it works with the generally unrealistic and puzzley nature of the game, but FPSes that I catch doing it tend to bug me.
If you want me to trash the enemies, make it some reason I have to kill them first that's plausible. Yes, that means I will let you make me go collect a key (card) from somewhere. As long as its location makes some damn sense.
Or some scripted sequence that makes sense the door isn't opened until that point.

 

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