Looking for a truly horrifying first person shooter experience? Look no further than F.E.A.R. 3 my friends. Having not played previous games in the F.E.A.R. franchise, I wasn’t sure what to expect from F.E.A.R. 3. I knew it wasn’t going to be all smiles and happy bunnies, but what I experienced was something I’d never seen before in a videogame. There we periods of the game where I was genuinely scared, not a little bit spooked, no sir, scared. The majority of the game is played in pitch darkness, with only a flashlight to assist you, nasty stuff.
The beginning of the game saw my character escape some kind of facility where I was being contained, so I assumed that all of the guards and other very official looking people were simply trying to kill me. Oh no, there’s something a little bigger than that going on, there’s a huge outbreak of what can only be described as mindless-zombies. Every building has blood covered drawings and writings inside, your vision blurs and flashes for no reason on occasion, you see mysterious ghost-like dogs appearing occasionally, and from time to time this extremely scary girl just appears out of nowhere, then disappears again. For fans of the F.E.A.R. franchise, you might know a little more about the meanings and reasoning behind all of these things, but for me, a newcomer to the series, I was just completely scared witless.
Most of your time is spent shooting at the evil army of the Armacham corporation, who use a number of clever techniques like flanking and hiding quietly in corners. Another thing that I liked about them is that, if they hear a sound from you, like if you accidentally kick a barrel over or something, they’ll come over to check it out.
The use of cover in F.E.A.R. 3 is essential, as you’ll get killed by just a couple of shots. Also, in order to keep you on your toes, most cover is destructible, meaning that after a few shots you’ll need to find somewhere else to protect yourself. You can use that pretty nifty feature to your advantage though, by destroying an enemy’s cover in order to kill him. What F.E.A.R 3 does well is provide an authentic firefight experience, for example, you’ll often get moments where your enemy regroup and talk things out, and you’ll get moments late into the firefight where you’ll hear nothing for a few minutes or so, then of course, it all kicks off again and the bullets start flying and, if you’re not careful, your get killed in the process.
The campaign also gives you the opportunity to use armoured power suits, meaning that your opponents will need a tremendous amount of force in order to kill you. The brilliant thing with the armoured suit is that you have the choice to use an electricity beam to fry your enemies or just kill them the old fashioned way by shooting the hell out of them. Nice.
F.E.A.R. 3 has four multiplayer modes that cater for up to four players. Soul King sees the player start as a spectator, and you then need to take possession of soldiers and collect souls from fallen enemies, the player with the most souls after the end of the time period is victorious, simple rules yet incredibly hard to play. Your player will lose half their collected souls when killed, so expect scores to change extremely suddenly in the final few minutes or so as people’s health runs low. Soul Survivor sees one player start the game as a spectator, much like the Infection game mode in Halo, he must then seek out the other players and corrupt them. Contractions mode is probably my favourite, much like Gears of War’s beloved Horde mode, you must work together with your team mates to destroy wave after wave of enemies, using barricades, power ups and good ol’ fashioned courage to see you emerge victorious. The last mode, and the most unusual, is F**king Run, a mode where you must run like a madman through areas full of nasty enemies while a huge wall of death chases you from behind, one slip up and you’ll be flatter than a pancake. It may sound rather straight forward, but it really isn’t, some of those enemies can be complete buggers and that wall moves surprisingly fast.
The game’s graphics are not bad, but nothing particularly spectacular. But what F.E.A.R. 3 lacks in definition it makes up for in its detail. Every room has every possible detail added, from little scratches on the floor to blood marks on the ceiling, even blood covered writing and the odd severed hand hiding underneath a desk. Those features may not sound terribly scary, but if you’ve only got a flashlight to see, it’s blood terrifying.
One thing F.E.A.R. 3 lacks is jumpy moments, they’re there but they are few and far between. You get moments where a ghost-dog runs past (and at one point through) you and, of course, the famous moment where a small blood covered child just appears behind you as you turn around, disappearing in a second or two. These do send shivers down your spine, but they can be a bit predictable, you can expect them to happen as you enter a room with blood splattered everywhere, or when you enter a video sequence.
In the end, F.E.A.R. 3’s campaign doesn’t leave you complete gob-struck, but it gives you enough motive to complete the game and have a pretty decent feeling of accomplishment afterwards too. After all, some parts of the game are damn hard. If you’re a fan of previous F.E.A.R. games then you might be a bit disappointed that it’s just more of the same, there’s nothing new and exciting but the good ol’ horrifying violence is there, just the way you like it. In conclusion then, if you’re looking for a solid shooter experience, with zombies and military opponents thrown in the mix (sometimes at the same time!) then look no further than F.E.A.R. 3. I’ve been told it’s not as scary as the first two, but have no doubt about it, it’s a game worth playing.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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