Sunday, February 23, 2014

F.E.A.R. 3

F.E.A.R. 3 is the first game in the series that has actual replay value as after completing an interval as the Point Man -- who makes a canonical comeback -- you unlock his brother, Paxton Fettel, for the mission. (Fettel apparently returned in F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn, a DLC for the second game, which I have not played as it was not included in the WB bundle).

F.E.A.R. 3 can also be played in co-op, and often times I felt that is how it is supposed to be played -- some sections were quite challenging on the normal difficulty. Bringing Fettel's unique abilities to support the Point Man would have definitely made things easier (and maybe more entertaining as well).

The problem with playing a horror game in co-op is that it stops being scary. However, I think that making the game (jump) scary wasn't the main goal; scoring points is not something one can have and still retain a spooky atmosphere -- in my opinion anyway. Which one of the two endings you get, is in fact decided by which brother has the highest total score. (In singleplayer it is obviously the brother you are playing as.)

The game's script was co-written by comic book author and novelist Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and the cinematics directed by John Carpenter. They are indeed quite cool. Although, maybe unintentionally comical as well; the Point Man still has no voice-acting and just keeps silently glaring at the talking Fettel in the third-person cutscenes. It gets quite hilarious.

F.E.A.R. 3 was developed by Day 1 Studios, who previously did the console port for the first game. The studio's console-orientation shows. While F.E.A.R. 2 was obviously a console game first and PC game second, too, is the third game even simpler in controls and mechanics. Also, while you can adjust many things in the options menu, the rather heavy motion blur has no setting and you have to manually alter the ini file if you want to get rid of it. (And you probably do.)

A new gameplay mechanic is the first-person hard cover system that unfortunately felt quite clumsy to me. You do not really want to -- or cannot -- sit in cover for long anyway, though, as the enemies are quite eager to throw grenades at you. They also use the cover system themselves and often completely disappear behind a barrel or such. The health bar is now gone as well and only the oh-so-real bloody screen is left to inform you of your state.

The game's gunplay was not as satisfying as it was in the earlier games. Maybe because the amount of recoil was lacking. I think the SMG, for instance, had no climb-up what-so-ever when ADSing. The guns also felt bit underpowered; enemies suck in quite a few bullets before dropping. I was happy to see a final boss fight only to be disappointed as it just kept repeating the same two phases, overstaying its welcome by quite a bit.

Graphics and story-wise F.E.A.R. 3 is the strongest of the bunch but I think its gameplay is not quite as good. There is just something with the game's weapons. Like the previous game, does this one have multiplayer as well. Maybe someone still plays it; I do not care enough to try. I might replay the campaign as Fettel, though, as I am somewhat interested to see how it actually works.

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