F.E.A.R. 3 Review
August 4, 2011, 4:52 am
blog comments powered by Disqus
I remember when scary games used to scare the literal piss out of me. I didn't last more than an hour with the first Fatal Frame and had to play Silent Hill talking to my buddy on the phone. But games like the first F.E.A.R., Condemned, Dead Space and even Bioshock helped break me out of my less then manly ways. Maybe it was the injection of heavy action into their creepy narratives or simply I'd just grown a pair over the years. Either way... scary games just stopped scaring me.
When I first heard at E3 2010 that F.E.A.R. 3 (I refuse to type it F.3.A.R. and yes I know by typing that I just contradicted myself) was soliciting the creative input of esteemed horror movie icon John Carpenter and would be penned by of 30 Days of Night author Steve Niles the promise of post-play nightmares had me excited. Really it was one of the only things that had me excited considering series creators Monolith were out and Mech Assault developers Day 1 Studios were in. That being said I went into F.E.A.R. 3 optimistic and hopeful that this would be that forced me to play with the lights on again.
Well after plowing through the single-player in one sitting --a short but sweet six hour adventure -- sadly my pants were still dry. I guess I should have expected this when Carpenter and Niles names were nowhere to be found on the box -- they're in credits, but it makes me wonder just how much they were involved with shipped product. But just because I didn't dowse myself with fear didn't mean the ride to the end wasn't enjoyable. In fact F.E.A.R 3 tells the most connective and cognitive narrative in the entire series.
With the first game's protagonist Point Man and antagonist, now turned partner, Fettel Paxton thrown back into the spotlight F.E.A.R. 3 makes this summer of 2011 release the perfect buddy cop-esque adventure with a twist. I'm not a fan of talking about stories in reviews, so I won't go into any spoilers, but when the plot thickens, as the results of F.E.A.R. 2's (you're going to need to read up on the series if your new to it, as it can be as confusing as hell) climax begins molding this morbid tale, the action gets equally as interesting.
In fact Day 1 Studio has one-upped Monolith's previous efforts in the gameplay department once you get past the horribly paced first level. Like the entangled story, F.E.A.R. 3 throws players straight into the heat of things without much guidance. While I question the decision to not slowly introduce new players into the game, I commend them for letting veterans get right back into the thick of things. As a single-player outing though fans of the first two games won't find too many new features to get stimulated by -- you still duck behind cover, shoot enemies in slo-mo and occasionaly hop in a mech to obliterate everything in your path.
This being the single-player review though there's just not much for seasoned FPS aficionado to be surprised by. See after you get past the pulsating fetus at the title screen the entire game presents itself as one giant multiplayer experience -- where most of F.E.A.R. 3's newness lays -- complete with lobbies and required sign-in. It makes sense since the game incorporates a scoring mode throughout the campaign for completing preset objectives such as 'X" amount of kills with a certain weapon, but the disconnect from a traditional single-player experience makes the whole ordeal feel alien.
While it's still a solid solo experience to be had, Day 1 Studios definitely put the majority of their time and effort into designing a FPS fit for two. Most of the more challenging engagements in the game are really only challenging because they were designed with co-op in mind. It's not to say that the game is a completely broken experience for one, it's the game is better suited for flanking enemies as opposed to popping in and out of coverage.
It also would have been a smart addition to have been able to play as Fettel without the need of a second player. With telekinetic skills like levitation and the ability to possess enemy soldiers, Fettel is easily the freshest and most dynamic change to ever hit the franchise . Honestly it's a little bewildering that the option to play as either brother when going it alone in single-player doesn't exist. I would understand the omitting if Fettel jumped in and out of the story, but he's there the whole time. Why throw out the option to deliver twice the gameplay? Is having a co-op experience that important?
Regardless F.E.A.R. 3's single-player is still a solid, competent offering that will appease any shooter fan looking for a quick summer fling. The scoring system adds some replayability for the achievement and trophy hunting crowd, but unfortunately offers little for anyone else. Without the company of friends though there really isn't much meat to this games full price package. It's sort of shame too, considering the ingredients to double the length of the campaign are sitting right there.
Where F.E.A.R. 3 truly exceeds is in its capacity in delivering a proficient online package. As I explained in the single-player review, Day 1 Studios design choices from the main menu on scream "this is multi-player affair" first and foremost. Five modes; Co-op Campaign, F**king Run, Soul King, Contractions and Soul Survivor come packed in the F.E.A.R. 3 box , though F**king Run and Soul Survivor are only available via the active pass DLC card that's included. For a breakdown on each mode outside of campaign check out Andre's preview from April as not much has changed in the shipment to retail.
Strangely enough a straight forward deathmatch mode, a staple of the genre, is nowhere to be found on the disc. While I do agree that there are too many online deathmatch-style shooters on the market, I had always found F.E.A.R.'s running and slide-kicking tactical combat a great alternative when Call of Duty and Halo began to get stale. Don't get me wrong each of the four, up to four-player, online offerings Day 1 Studios brings to F.E.A.R. 3 are all fun with the right people -- I'm particularly fond of Contractions "Horde Mode" action and the Left 4 Dead feeling that F**king Run gives me -- but omitting deathmatch was a huge mistake.
As played out as deathmatch is, the sheer competitiveness the mode offers, is the key to building a strong and steady community of players -- something as of this time F.E.A.R. 3 sorely lacks and something every online game needs to thrive. On top of that I've also had a hard time consistently finding games, unless I'm hosting, with my time online. If this is just the from the lack of players or poor match-making servers, I'm not sure. But with each game only supporting a max of four players, limited maps and a ranking system that really on clarifies that you've put in time, F.E.A.R. 3 definitely struggles to find its own place in the online world.
If you do have a dedicated group of three friends to game with and are looking for something to tide you over till the next big thing comes, then F.E.A.R. 3 is game highly worth picking up. The campaign is better with a friend and the four distinct online modes offer just enough variety to satisfy any FPS fan. It's just that in the end it feels like Day 1 Studios had too many great ideas for F.E.A.R. 3 and not enough time or budget to balance everything out properly. Hopefully they get another chance with the franchise -- the ending leaves them some outs -- as I think they can really hit a homerun with another chance at the proverbial plate.
Just The Facts
Publisher: WB Games
Developer: Day 1 Studios, LLC
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release: May 24, 2011
Available On: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Background Check: Wesley
I've been playing shooters for almost two decades now and as much as I enjoy them I have never really found an audience with their multiplayer portions. A little strange considering how much I love a good competition. Then again I do also like to try to play anything and everything, leaving me very little time. The notion though of combining both single and multiplayer together always strikes me as a good idea. Which begs the question: Do we really need deathmatch in FPS?
F.E.A.R. 2: Liked
Bioshock 2 Loved
F.E.A.R. 2: Liked
Bioshock 2 Loved