The Art of Fear
Fear ah...how much I loved you, the others not so much. It seems the more that Fear tries to scare you, the less it manages to achieve and yet it fits comfortably in the first person shooter space. Fear 3 is the latest in the paranormal shooter series and well, itís supposed to be the last. It is however certainly a big step away from the first Fear and in some ways, itís good.
A caveat though, if you are a fan of Fear...then you might consider this one a heavy departure from the twisted/scary Alma that you know and love. Thereís no real subtle horror in this one...and that somewhat brings the series further away from the storytelling quality and psychological effects that it brought to the table with the first game.Story
Almaís back, youíre Point Man or Paxton Fettel and you have to get to the bottom of whatís going on. Armacham are going to try and stop you, everything is out to get you and thereís a huge psychic backlash. The story is told with a mix of cut-scenes and first person point of view mechanics.Gameplay
First person shooter ahoy! Fear 3 is basically just that, a generic first person shooter with some shock-horror thrown in. What it does do rather well is handle the moment-to-moment first person gunplay, cover shooting (a first for the series) and sticky cover. Sticky cover is great, it allows you to get behind something and slide along it and around without too much trouble. You can vault low walls and over boxes, you can shoot the hell out of your enemies tactically and you can employ the same tricks that the AI was capable of in the last few Fear games in terms of mantling around and over cover and scenery.
Youíre rewarded for doing various feats through the game; it gives you a bunch of points (experience) and allows you to level up one of the two characters you can play. Thatís right, remember Point Man, who put a bullet in Paxton Fettelís head from the first game? Well...you play as either him, with his amazing slow-time reflexes or once youíve beaten the mission in question, Paxton, who has basically reanimated himself due to the huge amount of psychic backwash thatís going on. Paxton has powers though, he can possess people and throw bolts of energy, and he can also lift folks up with the power of his mind and pop them like a grape. From a pure Ďfuní point of view heís so much more interesting and evil than Point Man.
He gets a bunch of different feats to help him level up, scoring a lot more points that Point Man in terms of experience gains.
So the duo basically goes from one part of the city to the next, getting closer to the source of the problem. The game plays out in a linear fashion with regenerating health, checkpoint saves and some larger and larger mech (small walker and large walker) units to control to break up the tedium of just running and gunning. Fear 3 tries to scare you along the way but really only succeeds in being a bit of a letdown in that regard. The horror is predictable and the random events do nothing except raise a bit of a chuckle.
The story is over all too quickly and the game sort of falls flat in the later acts. The weapon arsenal has a few decent guns but it falls quite flat and feels generic most of the time. Even the better weapons have a flat feeling to them. The physical move interaction is much better, with weighty combat moves in melee making your foes tumble and fall down. The slide is an effective tactic for knocking your foes prone.
As for collectables: there are Alma dolls and psychic links, these links add points to your experience total. When you level up you get a reward, faster health regen, more bullets per clip, more special power bar etc.Graphics
Graphically Fear 3 is nice, itís a good looking game and it pushes all the right graphic buttons. The textures are crisp, the designs are excellent and the environments are pretty disturbing at times. Yet, again, the horror just seems way too overboard and doesnít ring with that psychological edge that the first game had. Thereís something almost laughable about the huge amounts of blood and dead bodies in the game, the ripped up corpses and so on. Theyíre really well done, but the shock-horror of it all is lost in the gore gore gore approach through even the graphics. Lighting, special effects, shading and all the bells and whistles that the engine can deliver are top notch though.Animations
A high level of polish has been given to the animations in the game, the enemy animations and the various other animations all have the trademark of quality animators. They are especially good when it comes to environmental interaction, enemies taking cover and running, vaulting and of course various death animations from the arsenal of weapons. Cut scenes are well directed and animated and the weapon animations are also good.Physics
Thereís a good level of physics in the game. Objects can explode when shot, some cover can be degraded and the bigger guns from the walkers are a joy to send people flying with. Thereís a nice feeling of weight behind some of the character melee moves too. AI
Now the AI in Fear 3 is actually really good, we really liked the way it knows the environments. The way that opposing factions fight each other and the way that it knows to run away if itís too badly injured, or needs to regroup. Flanking actions are executed in a solid fashion and the Armacham bad guys are pretty sneaky at times. All in all, there are no real problems with that side of the game.