Enter the world of the insanely paranormal once more with the latest instalment of the F.E.A.R. series. F.E.A.R. 3 is set nine months after the events that took place in F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origin and it is now obvious that Alma and her psychic influence has survived – along with something far worse. Alma is now awaiting the birth of her third child which could ultimately be an entity so powerful that it will have the ability to destroy everything in existence. Paxton Fettel, the previously discovered brother to Point Man and son of Alma, has returned from the dead and is asking Point Man for assistance to reach Alma. Point Man and the now playable character of Fettel are to set out on a twisted exploit to either protect Alma and the new prototype which she is giving birth to, or to destroy them both.
Starting out on F.E.A.R. 3 players are introduced once more into controlling the primary protagonist Point Man – now unmasked for the first time. The silent Point Man was first introduced in F.E.A.R. and is a failed psychic commander who was then genetically modified under orders of Genevieve Aristide. Paxton Fettel has arisen from the grave and, after aiding Point Man’s escape, starts a full-on psychological torment for the duration of the campaign. The player must control Point Man through eight intervals during the single player campaign, but after each level is complete the player can then play through with Fettel – which immediately doubles the campaign length. At first it would appear that this is a cheap way of making a game longer, but it is actually a clever feature for the game which has an amazing purpose at the grand finale.
On initial reactions F.E.A.R. 3 is graphically dated, and bears nothing other than the basic core of FPS gameplay. However the graphics are no reflection on the game itself and, apart from a few glitches – slight pausing where the game loads and saves during mid-play – the graphics get the job done. The soundtrack is a real winner, with music cleverly composed to create a mass of suspense and hysteria. The gameplay itself is smooth and very easy to control and the firing system is very accurate and houses a good selection of weapons. Above this foundation lies a great story-line that really keeps the player hooked until the end. The settings for each level are highly imaginative and facilitate the horror element of F.E.A.R. 3.
Each level is simple enough, with a linear, stereotypical FPS layout. There are no puzzles as such and you merely have to find the path to the end of each interval. Each interval changes with the storyline progression and you find yourself looking for different characters along the way until you reach the end of the game. Enemies within the game are varied, from the simplistic F.E.A.R. soldier to more advanced prototypical soldiers. Later on in the game you also encounter other beings, such as hell-dogs. Each enemy that uses a weapon drops their said weapon upon death. These weapons are able to be utilized, which gives the games arsenal another degree of interest. Another feature with each enemy is that they each have their own weaknesses and are more vulnerable to attacks from specific weapons, allowing a player to change the playing style depending on whom they are being attacked by. Enemies are more susceptible with headshots, but the developers of F.E.A.R. 3 have also turned the dial for gore to maximum, with the possibility of blasting limbs from an opponent or reducing them entirely to a healthy portion of chop suey. Health in F.E.A.R. 3 is not categorised via a health bar but instead by the amount of red on the screen and by how deeply your character is breathing. By using this feature you do not have to use health-regenerating tools but instead have to know when it is a great idea to run and hide behind the nearest wall. Whilst hiding a player is also able to use a covering system, with all the fancy functions of leaning and running to another place of cover or even jumping over the current position.
F.E.A.R. 3 is not without its downfalls, however slight they are. The campaign could be considered a little too short – being able to go through with one character in one small playthrough. The lack of bosses shows the need of character creation – with one certain end-of-level boss showing up four times throughout the game. And of course the biggest let-down was the fact that, giving that this is part of one of the biggest horror franchises for consoles to date, it was not nearly as bloodcurdling as it could have been. Overall F.E.A.R. 3 is a great game with a mysterious storyline that leaves the player wanting more. There are elements that the developers could have improved and, considering its release-date price-tag, it could have included a full manual instead of a one-page health warning and copyright information sheet. None-the-less F.E.A.R. 3 is a worthwhile game within anyone’s collection and contains a great structure as well as an interesting storyline. So if you are a FPS fan, a F.E.A.R. nut or merely someone who loves their gore, then pick up F.E.A.R. 3 – you’ll have a bloody good time.