F.E.A.R. 3 Review
publisher: Warner Bros. Entertainment
developer: Day 1 Studios
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jun 21, 11
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About six years ago, Monolith Productions delivered a true gem in the realm of first-person horror themed action games. FEAR wasn't just a good shooter, it had an incredibly compelling ambiance that not only scared the pants off you, but also managed to captivate users with a set of truly horrifying scenes. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin kept and reinvigorated most of those characteristics, leaving us with another satisfying (albeit not brilliant) shooter. Eventually, however, Monolith decided to hand over the third installment in the franchise to a different team - Day 1 Studios (MechAssault (Xbox), MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf (Xbox), FEAR (Xbox 360, PS3), Fracture and more).
FEAR 3 starts off exactly 9 months after events of FEAR and F2: Project Origin. Point Man, the main character from the original game, was nabbed and detained by Armacham Security. They've thrown him into a nice and cozy, padded cell in a rather creepy-looking Asylum (hm, all asylums are creep, in fact). Anyway, Paxton Fettel, the villain from the first game, gets in the way of Armacham's interrogation of Point Man. Having set him free, Fettel continues along with Point Man, as both of them begin their escape from the Asylum.
He always gets inside your head, doesn't he?
These guys can be quite a pain in the... ASS!
There are several elements that have always kept FEAR stand on its own in a myriad of shooters - the great horror-like atmosphere, excellent shooter gameplay mechanics and first-class sound design. It may sound meek to some of you, but in regards to FEAR that's really all it takes. Things were spiced up to some extent when Monolith decided to introduce the Mech-like EPA (Elite Power Armor) in FEAR 2: Project Origin. Thanks to the developer's efforts (both Day 1 and Monolith, apparently) that particular facet was successfully carried over to FEAR 3.
Similarly, to its predecessors, this game shifts in and out of frantic, bullet-riddled action that provides a mish-mash of slow-motion shootouts and the aforementioned Mech segments. The excitement is perpetuated thanks to the well-balanced weaponry, solid level design and a good plot structure. True enough, these are all separate elements, but there's simply no denying they were molded splendidly together. Story wise, things are just where they ought to be. It's not Shakespearean drama and it doesn't have to be. There's basically quite enough in the narrative to please both fans and those who may be new to the series (albeit how bewildered they may be by its setting and characters).
As far as the combat goes, the bullet-time action was done with style and it never gets old. The true innovation here has come with the inclusion of Fettel who is a fully playable character in both single-player and multiplayer modes. One of the things we've always appreciated about FEAR games is the AI behavior. When the main character is beset by multiple foes, a certain amount of skill is required to come out of the fight in one piece. The combat remains challenging all the way. Mind you we did run into a bug or two when it comes to AI-controlled foes. On a few occasions we slipped pass the AI without it even noticing us. This did happen rarely throughout the campaign, but when it did, it was a bit irritating. Controversially, you're gonna need some skill to stand up to the many enemies in this game, a lot of which are tougher than you might think. So-called Phase Casters and Commando units represent highly resilient elite fighters who are sent into the fray to subdue Point Man and Fettel. Their armor is shielded and they have the ability to constantly summon grunts. So, unless you take them out quickly, you'll probably end up dead.
8.4 Very Good
Still scary as a horror game, still fun as a shooter, great atmosphere, accompanied with top sound effects and a chilling soundtrack, co-op is generally a cool addition to the FEAR recipe, solo mode has a dash of replayability to it thanks to the inclusion of a second playable character;
The technology powering the game is outdated at this point, it has few AI glitches, despite its engaging co-op it brings nothing new to the FPS genre.