Nearly six years and hundreds of shooters later, F.E.A.R. still remains one of my favorites. Even though technology has evolved since then by leaps and bounds, few games have managed to match this title’s penchant for stylish destruction. Fusing balls-to-the-wall action with some truly creepy moments, F.E.A.R. paved the way for a new breed of shooters. And it’s a real pity that none of its predecessors followed that path. The expansion packs that followed weren’t a patch on Monolith’s beast and neither was the full-fledged sequel developed by Monolith themselves. It’s because of this I never really had high hopes for F.E.A.R. 3 or F.3.A.R., as the cool kids call it. And this cynicism has definitely worked in my favor. It’s not that F.E.A.R. 3 is a bad game; it’s just yet another generic shooter with a few enjoyable moments that cannot live up to the legacy laid down by its predecessor.
No need to lose your head over this
F.E.A.R. 3 takes place after the events of the second game and if you haven’t played it or its predecessor, you’re kinda screwed. The game tries to fill players in on all the horrific events of days gone by but you’ll still be left scratching your head at the end of the day wondering how deep the rabbit hole really went. For your first playthrough, you’ll step into the genetically modified boots of Point Man, the nameless protagonist from F.E.A.R. who’s heightened sense of reflexes allow him to slow time down. Plus he’s rocking a beard right now and nothing says I’m a badass more than a well groomed beard.
As Point Man, gameplay is your standard shooter fare where you move from one level to another, slowing time down, shooting enemies in the face. The reason I sound less than excited about F.E.A.R. 3’s single player is because it lacked everything that made the first game a blast. For one, destruction is nearly negligible in this game as opposed to F.E.A.R. where bullets would rip the concrete off walls, shell cases would bounce all over the place and you felt like you were in the midst of an intense gun fight. In fact you can’t even shoot an enemy standing behind a wooden table because your bullets can’t penetrate jack in this game. Grenades when thrown don’t feel like powerful little balls of death setting off shock waves decimating everything in sight. They feel more like powerful little firecrackers in both sight and sound. F.E.A.R was also well known for its wicked AI that made life pretty tough for players. F.E.A.R. 3 on the other hand (on Normal) was a cakewalk with its brain dead AI that allowed me to waltz all over their Neanderthal butts.
Let's play catch the zombie bum
Once you take out the whole chaotic action from the equation, F.E.A.R. 3 becomes nothing more than a generic modern day shooter with a few scares thrown in. As opposed to the first game that made many seasoned gamers pee in their pants, this one’s content with a few flashes of creepy naked girls and a few visual effects that distort vision. The game does pick up a bit towards the end but just as you’re getting into it, it ends.
The F.E.A.R. experience has always been tailor made for a single player experience allowing the developers to suck you in with all satisfying action as well as all the creepy undead stuff. With F.E.A.R. 3, developer Timegate Studios took a gamble and added in co-operative play into the mix and to my surprise, it’s actually quite good.
Where's the undead brother when you need him
In co-operative play, the host plays as Point Man while the other will be Paxton Fettel, his undead brother with all the cool psychic abilities. As Point Man, the gameplay remains the same as the single player but it’s only when you play as Fettel does the fun truly begin. For starters you can possess any enemy in sight and then proceed to gun his comrades down with reckless abandon. This is obviously the safest route since Fettel cannot wield any weapons. The other way of going about doing things is working in tandem with your partner where you levitate your opponent using your Telekinetic abilities while your partner pumps him full of lead. This actually works real well in the game’s favor converting an otherwise boring experience into a moderately enjoyable one. If for some reason you don’t have anyone to co-op with, you can experience the game as Fettel all over again once you complete the campaign as Point Man.
The game packs in a ton of multiplayer game types but at the time of this review, multiplayer on PC was completely broken. Every time I tried connecting to any sort of game type I found zero servers. I went online, scanned through various forums and it seems this problem is widespread on the PC platform. And since Timegate Studios haven’t bothered fixing this issue that’s been around for more than a week now, I’m really not going to bother with it.
Oh wait, you were trying to scare me?
Visually F.E.A.R. 3 is a good four to five years behind its time. In 2005 F.E.A.R. was a visual powerhouse that brought many powerful PCs to their knees. F.E.A.R. 3 is sadly a blurry mess of things. There’s some decent texture work and water effects to be found in here but other than that, it’s an ugly affair be it with washed out environments or drab character models. The frame rates stay stable when the action gets a bit frantic but then again, there’s not a lot of frantic action to begin with here. Headshots and gibbage thankfully still remain satisfying and popping a sweet headshot in slow mo never gets old.
On its own merit F.E.A.R. 3 would have been an above average albeit generic shooter with a few scares thrown in. The addition of co-operative play does help this franchise as Timegate have done a pretty bang up job of implementing it into gameplay. As a successor to the F.E.A.R. name however, it’s a disappointment mother would not approve of.
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