I am not always a huge fan of first-person shooters, unless they’re done right. For that reason, I have always loved the F.E.A.R. games and have now played all three. To me, story is everything in shooters. I usually eventually find the shooting just grows old, after awhile, and occasionally keeps you from getting further into a plot of game.
Also, I’ll admit that I generally play first-person shooters in the easiest mode available. But I’m of the opinion that a game shoud be fun and challenging, but most certainly not frustrating. I know some gamers need more challenge, and even like the frustration. Good for them, but for me, a game is about unwinding and enjoying some free time without the hassle.
F.E.A.R. 3 picks up nine-months after the previous game. The Point Man (that’s you, in this game, once more) has been captured by Armachan Security and interrogated. Paxton Fettel, Point Man’s cannibalistic and telepathic brother shows up and helps Point Man escape. And yes, Paxton is, in theory, dead, by the hand of Point Man, but the two still form an uneasy partnership in the escape attempt.
Meanwhile, Alma is giving birth to… something. And in the process, the world, as we know it, is tearing itself apart.
Throughout all of this, Point Man is trying to track down Michael Beckett, who is the player character from F.E.A.R. 2. Obviously, much fighting of Armachan and various little nasties are involved, because this is, by nature, a shooter.
I found the game environments as spooky, if not spookier, than the previous games. There are moments that surprise you enough to make you jump out of your skin and if you’re playing with the lights turned down, you’re going to be a little scared. The sound design isn’t as good as something like Dead Space, but serves the spooky atmosphere and surprise shocks well.
The game is divided up into 8 chapters, which I found moved fairly fast. The length of the game felt about the same as the previous two, though. The save points are automatic and happen often enough that I didn’t feel frustrated when Point Man died. I’ve literally stopped playing games for save points that are too few and far between.
The shooting, on the “Recruit” setting, was still challenging to me (because I am not a huge first-person shooter player) and involved strategies ranging from run and fire away like crazy and hope you’ll hit something to hide and wait and shoot when it’s clear. The bosses are challenging, and yes, at times frustrating, but not to the point where you want to stop playing. I did hate the phase casters, though. They are worse than even the final boss that you fight.
Speaking of which, I did find the final boss almost too easy. But after shooting my way through the entire game, that’s not always a bad thing. But if I find it easy, I know other hardcore shooter fans will be disappointed.
Weapons are spread out well throughout the game and you can hold up to two at any given time. It’s usually wise to always take any new weapon that you come across, though, as that seems to be the one you will need for the upcoming battle. There are also grenades handy and the occasional rocket launcher that you’ll need to take down helicopters. And taking down helicopters is fun! You also get to dive into robots and walk around in them shooting things (which is also a lot of fun).
The story is strong and carries us further into the world that was created in previous games. I especially liked the flashbacks of the two brothers in the asylum when they were boys. We learn a lot about Point Man and Fettel in these interludes.
There are also two endings. I only played through one (the other, I believe, is only available with multi-player) and it was nicely satisfying and although leaves room for a sequel, could also serve as a good ending if this turns out to be the final game in the series.