We recently ventured into San Francisco to try our hand at F.E.A.R. 3’s four multiplayer modes, some of which are surprisingly inventive, and all a good deal of fun.
But enough about the nuts and bolts, here’s a rundown of the four modes and how each plays.
This brilliantly succinct title really says it all. In this mode, you and up to three teammates are on the run from a cloudy wall of death which stalks you down enemy-ridden streets. The goal is to make it to from waypoint to waypoint until you reach the goal--if the wall touches even just one of you, it’s game over. Luckily, you are afforded a short time at each waypoint to restock or change your weaponry in preparation of the next section.
This mode was ridiculously fun, but also extremely stressful. You’ll find yourself engaged in a constant battle of risk vs reward: do you hang back to clear the streets or charge ahead at the risk of being mowed down. Of course, since you’re almost always facing away from the wall, the developers added a couple of more visceral clues of its impending approach. When the wall comes uncomfortably close, the screen starts shaking and your controller begins rumbling uncontrollably.
This mode also demands teamwork and communication in an effort to figure out how to properly cover the arena, alerting others to the impending wall of doom, and ensuring you resurrect any fallen your comrades.
Welcome to F.E.A.R. 3’s version of Horde/Firefight, but with a few slight tweaks. Like its inspiration, the goal is to hold your ground against numerous waves of enemies that grow increasingly stronger and larger in numbers. Fortunately, there are a couple of cool additions that make this mode feel distinct from its brethren.
The most noticeable distinction is that instead of having free reign over a large map, the aforementioned Wall of Death envelopes all but a small stronghold of the map during each wave, forcing you and your teammates to fight the baddies within a very small area. During this time, you’ll have to cover each other’s backs while fighting enemies, or restocking inside the armory...which has only a limited amount of supplies. Between waves, the Wall of Death dissipates, permitting access to the rest of the arena for a brief period of time. It is now that you’ll want to venture from your stronghold to retrieve weapon and ammo pick-ups in order to replenish your armory. This offers a very cool dynamic, forcing players to decide whether to venture out in search of goods, at the risk of being caught off-guard by the next wave, or to hang back and simply restock using whatever’s left in your armory.
In addition to battling the possessed enemies, you may encounter Alma (the creepy girl) at random and inopportune times. If you glance at her for than a moment before turning away, she’ll cast a curse on you with one of several negative effects, such as preventing you from running--not good.
This mode was very hectic, but also very fun. The smaller play area puts a greater emphasis on working together, and boy will you need it. Just staying alive is tough, but having to manage supplies, as well as reviving teammates (particularly when you’re the last man standing) at the same time makes for one of the more stressful, but rewarding, cooperative experiences I’ve had in a shooter.
Soul Survivor was inspired by the 2007 film, 30 Days of Night, and is probably the most complicated mode of the bunch. Though everyone starts off on the same team battling against an endless supply of soldiers, that quickly changes when Alma corrupts one of the four players, turning them into a Spectre and against the others. Once corrupted, you have a limited amount to corrupt the others, turning them to your side.
Unfortunately, the corrupted player is initially largely harmless. To rectify this, they must take possession of one of the many enemy soldiers, providing you with weaponry to use against the other players. Once you’ve depleted another’s health, they’ll fall to the ground giving you a chance to run up and corrupt them (a process that takes several seconds)--but be warned, if that player manages to kill you while on the ground, they’ll be instantly revived and you’ll have to try again. As such, it’s best to target players who are separated from their teammates--something that’s easy to spot thanks to the corrupted player’s ability to see through walls. Once you’ve corrupted another player, they’ll join you in your quest to corrupt the remaining two soldiers until just one remains: the Soul Survivor.
Although it sounds complicated, the mode does start to click after a round or two (they’re generally pretty short), though starting as the Corrupted can be frustrating at first due to your fragile state and relatively complicated goal. However, there is little more rewarding on the human side once you’ve been crowned as the Soul Survivor--a well deserved title.
The final mode, Soul King, is most similar to Halo’s Headhunter mode, but instead of collecting skulls, you’re collecting souls. With each player starting as a Spectre, your goal is to possess and kill as many of the AI combatants as possible adding their souls to your collection. The catch is that if you’re killed, you’ll drop half of yours, allowing the other players to reap what you worked so hard for. Of course, this works both ways, so you’ll want to actively target your opponents as well and try to steal their souls. Whoever has the most at the end wins. Simple, but fierce.
While the core mechanics of F.E.A.R. 3 aren’t terribly unique, the multiplayer modes themselves are a breath of fresh air in the modern day FPS climate. Even the modes clearly inspired by other games (Contractions, I’m looking at you) feature enough new elements to really make them come into its own. Keep an eye on this one to drop on May 24th for the Xbox, PS3, and PC and stay tuned to GameXplain.com for more coverage!
Developer: Day 1 Studios, LLC
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release: May 24, 2011
Available On: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
F.E.A.R. 2: Liked
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