Fear 3 Review Or: Three Men And A Baby

The Gameplay

At the risk of repeating myself, if you’ve played any of the prior entries in this series you’ll be on familiar ground in Fear 3. Your arsenal’s main weapon isn’t a gun but rather your ability to slow time to a crawl, enabling you to get in as many cheap shots on your opponents as your meter will allow. While bullet-time as been around in video games since the day of Max Payne, Fear really makes BT its central game play mechanic. It’s a two-edged sword: Yes, it’s visually arresting and fun but since slowing time down gives you such an unfair advantage over your foes you’ll always want to wait for it to refill before engaging. Ironically, you’ll spend so much time waiting on a full bullet-time meter that the game will feel slow even when you’re not actively slowing it down yourself.

FEAR 3 Screenshot

If you have any sort of experience playing first person shooters, Fear 3’s single player campaign will flash by in about 6-8 hours, pretty standard for the genre but still disappointing. Luckily, you can replay any unlocked missions as Fettel, giving the game a surprising amount of replayability. Fettel’s innate abilities, such as possession of enemy soldiers, differ wildly from that of the Point Man, giving the main campaign a totally different feel. Kudos to the developers for including this feature.

FEAR 3 Screenshot

Shooting consists of your usual assortment of pistols, rifles and shotguns with some explosives thrown in. There’s nothing very exciting in Fear 3’s weaponry but every gun in the game is very well animated, with hammers cocking after each shot and slides rocking back and forth. The shotgun is especially well done, with many of its individual parts performing some sort of animation.

Fear 3 takes a sharper turn for the supernatural than its predecessors as far as enemies are concerned. You’ll face a greater variety of summoned demons than in previous games, of all shapes and sizes. Armored soldiers and mechs still seek to thwart your every move but overall your opponents will be little more than pebbles in your path, Fear 3 isn’t a very difficult shooter to finish. While the main game is disappointingly short, Fear 3’s suite of multiplayer modes has the potential to extend its shelf life considerably. In fact, the multiplayer might be the best in the franchise’s history and good enough to recommend the game on its strengths alone. One caveat: Fear 3 only supports a maximum of four players at once.

Soul King is a point collecting match, where players must vie for possession of enemies around the map, the player with the most soul points at the end of a round wins. Contractions is the ever-popular Gears Of War-style Horde mode, with players tasked with defending a position from constantly increasing waves of bad guys. Soul Survivor is a heck of a lot of fun, with one player turned into a disembodied spirit trying to posses all three of his remaining friends before time runs out. It’s a terrific game of cat and mouse. But the real winner is Fucking Run, wherein players must run like hell to stay ahead of an incoming cloud of psychic energy that causes instant death to whomever it touches, all the while fighting off opponents that try to get in your way.

If you’re a fan of spending countless hours online fighting with your friends, Fear 3 caters to your needs and then some.

The Graphics

Neither of the two previous Fear games were graphical marvels by any stretch of the imagination. They were both decent, mid-range games with competent art designs and graphics. The same holds true for their younger sibling. Fear 3 has nice explosions and the aforementioned weapon designs are stunning but, graphically, it doesn’t hold a candle to most recent top-dollar shooters, with stiff character models and animations.

FEAR 3 Screenshot

Unfortunately, these less than stellar graphics don’t do the game’s countless scares many favors. It’s hard to feel anything other than pity when Fear 3 tries to make you fill your pants with the graphical equivalent of your dad with a white sheet over his head. Many of Fear’s so-called scary scenes fall flat due to lame monster design that wouldn’t scare your average five year old, let alone any hardcore gamer.

Mercifully, Fear 3 makes up for these shortcomings with the franchise’s standard highlight: spectacular sound design. Gunfire sounds are pretty standard, as are the many explosions. It’s the spooky ambient noises that really help sell the atmosphere the game is aiming for. The groaning of souls in agony on the edges of your perceptions, the creak of floorboards or the soft patter of naked footsteps just behind you are just a few of the little details that really help Fear 3 feel like a horror movie rather than a shooter. The game’s overall phantasmagoric sound design does a better job at scaring the brown stuff out of you than the visuals do. Competent if workmanlike voice acting completes the package.

The verdict: [rating:3]

They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Well, if Fear 3 is to be judged by that standard then it is a very insane game indeed. Aside from some deviously enjoyable multiplayer modes, Fear 3 does everything it’s two older brothers did and not a drop more. It’s a by the numbers shooter with a horror twist. Again. Still, its online matches will keep you coming back for more. Worth owning if only for that.

Your faithful reviewer, who won’t be getting whipped today…


(sound of whip cracking)


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