When the first F.E.A.R. game came out in 2005 it became an instant landmark classic for the first-person shooter genre. Here was an action game that gripped you with its storyline from the opening frames, and was so genuinely scary that it still sends shivers down the spine six years later.
At the heart of the drama was Alma, a young girl with astounding psychic powers who was being held in a military research centre where her super-soldier son Paxton Fettel was running amok, murdering everyone in sight. You played the enigmatic elite trooper Point Man, sent in to take out Fettel – but just before you completed your mission, you discovered Fettel was your sibling.
Play as both brothers in single-player
Two years ago, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin emerged, effectively as a parallel story with improved graphics but not quite as creepy. However, the story ended with the revelation that Alma was pregnant again. And in the latest incarnation (yes, F.E.A.R. 3), Fettel’s spirit returns to join forces with his brother, supposedly to prevent the birth of Alma’s potentially apocalyptic child.
Visually, F.E.A.R. 3 is not as polished as many of its contemporary shooters – but this is more than matched by the depth and variety of the gameplay. In single-player, you work your way through eight levels (or Intervals) playing as Point Man, who specialises in guns, grenades and slow-mo combat. As each section is completed, it’s then possible to play through again as Fettel, who prefers teleportation, possession and power blasts – thus giving you a completely different experience.
Refreshing new gameplay in co-op and multiplayer modes
In addition, two players can enjoy co-op as the brothers fighting together and scores and upgrades are awarded as you manage a range of achievements. As enemies (both soldiers and monsters) frequently arrive in waves and the smart enemy AI is constantly attempting to out-think you, learning how to combine both brothers’ skills makes for an absorbing contest.
The same is also true of the four new multiplayer modes which manage to avoid most of the modern clichés that are already getting very stale (such as death match and capture the flag, and so on). With a maximum of just four players allowed in each, Soul Survivor makes one player into a spirit that attempts to possess the rest of your friends before time runs out. Soul King lets you possess, kill and then harvest the souls of enemies around you. Contractions is a survival fest in the mode of Left4Dead against hordes of zombies in rapidly diminishing space, and the adrenaline-racing F**king Run is a race away from a moving, smoking Wall of Death while simultaneously fighting off enemy troops.
Alma herself takes an active role both in single-player and multiplayer modes, and while the ending is ultimately a disappointing anti-climax (despite having horror director John Carpenter and screen writer Steve Niles on board), and more might than fright is in evidence, F.E.A.R. 3 is a welcome blast of (spooky) fresh air into the FPS genre.
Company: Warner Bros
- New divergent co-op combat with the two brothers.
- The ending falls a little flat.
If you come to F.E.A.R. 3 expecting to be frightened witless, you'll come away disappointed - but you'll be compensated with an exciting co-op experience with the two powerful brothers and four imaginative multiplayer modes.