INTRO: Do you remember the F.E.A.R. games? Well, you probably should because they're a part of a very successful franchise, and F.E.A.R. 3 is the newest game in the series. Taking place 9 months after F.E.A.R. 2, this one picks up with bad things happening.
See, F.E.A.R. is based on a nasty psychic being sort of deal called Alma and this one focuses on the birth of her third child, which could of course destroy us all. You assume the role of Point Man, and in this game you're unmasked for the first time. Previously, he was masked and now he's working with his brother Paxton Fettel, who's back from the dead and trying to stop Alma. Point Man isn't exactly a hero- he kills all kinds of people and is really full of nasty psychological problems. Fettel isn't a beauty either..he's back from the dead with a bullet hole between his eyes.
Okay, I know it's confusing but it really does help to have played the other games. Your job is to try to stop (or help) Alma. You'll play through each level as Point Man and then afterwards you have the option to plays as Fettel as well.
Gameplay in F.E.A.R. 3 is pretty smooth and easy to play for a console FPS. The levels are straightforward and hold your hand throughout. You don't have puzzles to get through, you just have to make it to the end. In terms of the FPS mechanics, they're solid but unremarkable. The weapons aren't overly exciting and things sort of work as they should. The enemies are pretty smart for the most part, and know where they are and what they're up against Things does get a little bizarre late in the game, as monster-like creatures show up to take you on. I'm not sure why this happens, but it does. The game never explains the mutant creatures.
The game sort of has two distinct feelings about it. As Point Man, you're blasting and killing what stands before you. When you're Fettel, things slow down and get scary. I really like this idea, because when you think that it's getting old to blast soldiers in the head, the game will switch things up on you and paint the world in nightmarish colors. It's a bit cheesy (albeit a bit creepy) and can keep you on your toes for awhile.
The problem with this concept is that it isn't exactly balanced. The Point Man stuff is far more prevalent than the Fettel stuff, and it gets repetitive after awhile. And for my liking, F.E.A.R. spends too much time trying to just have things jump out at you to scare you. F.E.A.R. 3 is a pretty easy game on the regular difficulty, but when it gets tough, it feels unfair. some boss battles are way unbalanced and super frustrating, but it doesn't happen often. It is also a bit too short in the single-player campaign unless you bust through every level with both guys.
It should be noted that this game is designed so that you can do a co-op campaign online, and this is a ton of fun. The two brothers' abilities mesh well together, although it's more enjoyable to switch characters every so often. I mean, Paxton can possess people with his scary psycho-energy, and toss them up in the air so that Point Man can punch holes in him!
Other multiplayer modes include Contractions, where you have to fight bad guys and avoid Alma's random presence, and Soul King mode where you control a little monster trying to possess soldiers in order to dispatch your foes.
F.E.A.R. 3 is not a graphical powerhouse. It looks dated and isn't overly impressive. Don't get me wrong, it isn't hideous or anything, but the graphics, textures, environments and character models are more or less passable than impressive. Some effects are cool in the supernatural realm of things. It is always enjoyable to blow limbs off of your foes- this is a super violent and gory game.
Audio is presented strongly and mixed well. The score is great (and even features Danzig during the credits), with well composed music keeping the game's nastier moments in check. Voice acting is solid, and weapon effects aren't overly impressive, but don't detract from things.
I was hoping to be kept up all night playing F.E.A.R. 3, but it wasn't the case. The storyline is somewhat compelling and the dual character gimmick is pretty neat too, but the game is a little cheap in the scare department and the FPS mechanics, while solid, are unremarkable.
Still though, if you've got a friend to play with, get through the co-op mode. If you're a big F.E.A.R. fan, you won’t be throwing your hands up in disgust, that’s for sure. My final verdict is that fans should buy it, and newcomers should start with F.E.A.R. 2. If you dig that, then rent F.E.A.R. 3 and see how it works for ya!
Final Score: 7/10