FEAR 3 Review
Day 1 Studios’ first attempt at the FEAR franchise might disappoint fans of horror and gamers that appreciated the first two games’ eerie narrative and constant scares. However, while many of the series’ story telling techniques have been toned down and the style shifted towards a more action-orientated experience, FEAR 3 is still a very enjoyable shooter, reliant on action and a cooperative experience that is as exciting as it is engaging.
What FEAR 3 Got Right
Satisfying Shooting Action
FEAR 3 is all about action. Forget about the trademark scares and eerie, dark corridors: they are an afterthought in this new adventure.
You’ll be blasting your way through Armacham corporation soldiers, the scum that are infecting the streets and stamping their authority on the people.
Destructible environments make dashing from cover to cover a frantic necessity, and they add tension to combat that is already brimming with heated gun battles with solid enemy AI.
Playing as Point Man gives you the edge on the battlefield, thanks to the trademark FEAR slow motion mechanics that allow you to take out enemies with the utmost precision. Slow motion combat is nothing new in gaming, but FEAR continues to do it in the most satisfying of ways.
Paxton Fettel, Point Man’s brother, has abilities that differ significantly: he can suspend enemies in the air to allow an easy shot for his brother during co-op, or he can unleash a blast of energy that will obliterate any foe.
He thrives in co-op though, as the single-player campaign’s pace and action is more suited to Point Man. Paxton also isn’t playable until you finish the campaign with Point Man.
Co-Op is Engaging and Fun
One of the biggest new additions to the FEAR experience is cooperative gameplay, of which has been implemented superbly in FEAR 3.
Using Paxton and Point Man to defeat enemies works great thanks to balanced mechanics and a mixture of skills and abilities that compliment each other rather well.
Having Paxton hold an enemy in the air while Point Man breaks into slow motion for the headshot is as awesome as it sounds, and this is where the co-op gameplay really shines.
FEAR really shined in multiplayer, while FEAR 2 seemed to take a step-back with an enjoyable but rather unimpressive multiplayer component. Thankfully, FEAR 3 ups the ante with a number of great new modes that really do add plenty of worth to the experience.
The four modes, each of which allow up to four players, offer original multiplayer experiences that compliment the game’s mechanics and distance the experience from the generic multiplayer modes we see in other shooters.
The best of the modes is “F***ing Run”, a mode which has you running away from attacking enemies while a large wall of death closes in on you. If any of the four players in the game come in contact with the wall, the mode ends and everyone loses.
It’s a frantic, tense multiplayer mode, one that must be applauded because of its uniqueness and execution.
What FEAR 3 Got Wrong
FEAR 3 isn’t a very scary game, or at least when compared to its predecessors.
Environments lack the visual eeriness that helped define the series over the first two games, and there is a distinctive lack of creepy schoolrooms and shopping centers to leave a lasting impression.
The level of design just doesn’t seem to be there, which is a shame because the first two FEAR games shared a universe that perfectly complimented the at-times horrific story.
There’s also a lack of detail that leaves FEAR 3 looking rather outdated, and while the FEAR series has never been known for its visual presentation, especially on consoles, FEAR 3 is an all-time low for the series in those stakes.
FEAR 3 puts you in the shoes of FEAR protagonist Point Man. The story begins immediately after the ending of FEAR 2, as a paranormal catastrophe of epic proportions has hit the vulnerable city of Fairport.
Point Man’s brother, the homicidal Paxton Fettel, helps form an uneasy and intriguing relationship of siblings, but they can’t save the game’s story from being just not all that interesting.
This ultimately holds the campaign in FEAR 3 back a bit, although it’s saved by great action and shooting mechanics. The story just isn’t very satisfying, and there is a distinctive focus on the cooperative experience the two offer, as opposed to a focus on their background.
We are given a little insight as to the brothers’ troubled pasts, but nowhere near enough to add weight to the story, which is disappointing.
Not Very Scary
It’s a crying shame that FEAR 3 just isn’t very scary. FEAR 2 relied on the closed-in and dark corridors of schools to create tensions, but FEAR 3 is far too frantic and action-packed to be very scary.
Furthermore, the game’s lacking visuals and detail do little to give the game that fearful edge, which is a shame because the narrative was once one of the most appealing aspect of the series.
FEAR 3 may have the best shooting mechanics of all games, but it seems to have lost its soul in the process.
The Final Verdict
Although its diluted narrative and lacking visuals may disappoint fans of the first two games, as well as gamers after a frightening experience, FEAR 3 is an action-packed shooter extravaganza with a fantastic cooperative mode to boot. You essentially have two different campaigns with Point Man and Paxton, as well as a co-op experience that is extremely satisfying. FEAR 3 doesn’t achieve anything new for the genre, but it relies on satisfying shooting to offer an enjoyable, if uninventive, experience.
By Gaetano Prestia
Short on scares, heavy on action.