Rated M for Mature
Developed by Day:1:Studios
Published by Warner Brothers Interactive
The First Encounter Assault Recon team is back for another nightmarish romp through the gore-soaked world of everyone’s favorite little spooky video game scamp, Alma, and of course the evil telekinetic powerhouse known as Paxton Fettel. So how does the third chapter in this long-running franchise stack up against today’s biggest and best shooters? Lord knows Duke Nukem failed miserably. Read on for details, but first here’s a quick plot crunch.
The F.E.A.R. franchise has long been story-driven. None of the games or even the expansion packs have been about walking through levels blindly while picking off bad guys. F.E.A.R. 3 is no exception, though we have to admit the plot bar has definitely been raised here by the involvement of both Steve Niles and the great John Carpenter (If only he would have done the score! One can dream, right?).
Editor’s Note: Story spoilers are included in the next paragraph. If you haven’t played any of the F.E.A.R. games, you may want to skip it! We try never to give away anything, but in this case it’s completely unavoidable. Last warning! Okay go!
F.E.A.R. 3 opens shortly after the events of F.E.A.R. 2 with Paxton Fettel catching a bullet right between the eyes and that game’s playable character Becket getting Alma pregnant after she’s forced herself on him. These events bring the protagonist from the original F.E.A.R. game, Paxton’s genetically enhanced brother, the Point Man, back to help halt Alma’s pregnancy. But here’s the twist: The aforementioned headshot did not kill Paxton. In fact, his telekinetic powers have allowed him a life beyond death. As a result he now joins with his brother the Point Man to track down and stop their mother, Alma, who like them, has been granted powers from the evil company Armacham.
In a brand new twist to the gameplay, Paxton and Point are (at least for now) fighting on the same team. This allows for some badass two-player co-op (which can be played online or off) to be thrown into the mix. In single-player gamers will have to play as Point Man during the first run through of any level. Once a level has been cleared, gamers can then go back and play through the level as Paxton. Playing as each character gives players distinctly different abilities affecting their own experience as well as the experience of their co-op partner (i.e., Point man is the weapons guy and Paxton can possess enemies and use his powers to cause all manner of onscreen chaos). Thus, you end up having three completely different ways to enjoy the spookiness of F.E.A.R. 3 at your disposal – as Point, as Paxton, and through co-op! Talk about amping up the replay value of the around ten-hour campaign!
In terms of the game’s graphics, though a bit on the recently dated side, they still look plenty good from afar and up close. It’s just not as polished as, say, a Call of Duty title or Crysis 2. However, the music, the truly unnerving ambient soundtrack, and the top notch voice work will more than draw you into this horrific gem.
Done with the campaign? F.E.A.R. 3 has four unique multi-player modes for up to four players at a time just waiting for you. Even cooler – each mode is sporting its own unique maps.
“Soul King” mode allows gamers to go against other players via possession of soldiers and zombies. Once killed, each zombie/soldier drops souls, and the person who has the most souls by the end of the match is the victor. From there we have “Contractions”, which essentially adds some F.E.A.R. flavor to the scenario perfected by Call of Duty‘s zombie mode (i.e., players will have to defend a specific location for as long as they can while wave after wave of enemies attack). Then there are two team-based modes, “Sole Survivor” and “Fucking Run”. In “Sole” one player is randomly selected to become a ghost and needs to possess the other players, thereby turning them into members of the undead. Can you survive before the time runs out? We’ll tell you this … it’s damned fun trying to! Finally we have the best and most difficult multi-player mode F.E.A.R. 3 has to offer … “Fucking Run”. Essentially you and your team are being chased by a killer fog of sorts while dodging and killing enemies and overcoming obstacles. This is fresh, frantic, frightening goodness at its best. Really great stuff.
The best part … everything that you do in F.E.A.R. 3, from single-player to co-op to online, earns you points to upgrade your profile, thereby allowing you more perks and powers to use as you go along.
In short, there’s tons to do in F.E.A.R. 3, and you’re going to have a blast tackling each challenge. What we have here is a truly frightening action shooter that’s bound to monopolize a great deal of your time while scaring the ever loving shit out of you. What more could you ask for? See you online! I’ll be the guy possessing your teammate and using his gun to splatter your head all over the wall behind you. Ah, so good!
4 1/2 out of 5
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