Friday, June 24, 2011

Game Review: F.E.A.R 3

The F.E.A.R series holds a special place in my heart. The first game is one of the few that genuinely terrified me in the first levels, and the expansion levels aren’t half-bad either. While F.E.A.R 2 wasn’t as great as the original, I can see the effort put behind it.

So where does this leave F.E.A.R 3? How can I put my feelings into words?

F*$# @$&(@#$&)this@(&($@&(@game$$&@(!&!!!!!!!!

Okay, okay. Let me explain why I feel this way.

F.E.A.R 3 combines the first and second games together. The player continues the story of the main character of the first game, Point Man, as he attempts to escape an evil government facility. Point Man isn’t alone, though, as he is joined by his evil brother ghost Paxton Fettel as he fights his way to Alma, their ghostly yet pregnant mother (yes, this family has a few issues).

I’ll start with the good points first. Paxton Fettel has a really great voice actor, and the character itself is one of the more interesting characters in a horror franchise. Brutally tormented as a child, yet a monster who murders many, he also has a ‘younger brother’ attitude with the main character and I feel like there is lots of room for development. I am glad they brought him back. The idea of Paxton being a playable character can be really fun (as long as there is two players, that is).Even in single player the level can also be replayed as him, and that alone is worth a second play-through.

But here’s where the game quickly falls apart. Certain elements of this game feel really rushed, especially towards the second half. For example, Fettel and Point Man spend a great deal of time searching for Alma. After a lead they had turns out pointless, they suddenly find her without any suitable explanation. To put this in perspective, F.E.A.R 1 has eleven levels. F.E.A.R 3 has eight, and two of them are relatively short.

A second very big problem is the Point Man himself. They strongly hint that there is a ‘good vs evil’ struggle happening with him. Will he side with his family of monsters, or with the government? Well, despite the hints that the player can choose a side, he really can’t, as the choice is taken away in a cutscene. It would probably help if the Point Man could talk, but of course he can’t. Which is a shame, since in the second game Becket was a silent protagonist yet can now talk in F.E.A.R 3. Why can’t the Point Man have an actual personality? This is especially tragic when the Point Man meets Becket for the first time. 

I was kind of hoping things would improve at Paxton in the second play through, but nope, from what I saw there is no difference to the story besides the ending (which, with Paxton's character, doesn't make a huge amount of sense). Worst of all, this game ends just when it was really starting to get good.

FINAL GRADE: 2 ½ out of 5. Multiplayer is fun, but a lot is sacrificed in the process. Story-wise, I can think of a couple of ways it could be better. Gameplay wise, the action is fun yet some levels feel too long (which is ironic, considering the game feels too short). Is it scary? Not compared to the first, or even second game. Again, a lot of things are thrown out of the window in favour of a two-player mode I like but didn’t ask for. I will give F.E.A.R 3 some credit though-at least they try something new every game.

I find it amusing that Jin was in the first game, died in the expansion packs, then sprung back to life in the third game because Monolith likes to pretend the expansion packs didn't exist. 


Chris Hewson said...

Great post!
So is this the last game in the F.E.A.R. series or are there more to come?

Natasha Bennett said...

Tough call. F.E.A.R is popular enough to continue to a fourth game, but they've given an ending either way which can be a suitable conclusion.

Forgot to add one more thing-the button sequence for this game is really annoying and not typical for most games (and not raelly customoizable). I accidently skipped over the ending sequence because of this.

Chris Hewson said...

Ugh, that makes me remember when I was playing Castlevania 64 a little while ago. After slogging through the first two final bosses time and time again, I was always immediately killed by the last final boss and sent back to when I last saved; and when I finally beat the final boss and the ending cutscene started up, I slipped and accidentally skipped it, so I had to go through all three final bosses again!!!

Anonymous said...

"I find it amusing that Jin was in the first game, died in the expansion packs, then sprung back to life in the third game because Monolith likes to pretend the expansion packs didn't exist."

Monolith actually didn't develop this game. Day 1 Studios did...and that might account for the drop off in quality.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts from a FEAR fan perspective...It seems every review I read has read exactly the thanks for that.