As local co-op goes, I had done as much as I could with Borderlands and Resistance 3. So when my buddy came over the other day, we headed down to Gamestop to buy something on impulse and see what happened. The recommendation we were given? Fear 3. Or should I write it F3ar? We’ll go with Fear 3.
I admittedly haven’t played the first two Fear games. I never really had the interest. I’m usually not one to jump into the horror genre. So the story was new to me, and I found myself profusely uninterested to find out what was going on. There are so many games coming out with amazing stories, and so many games I already own with great stories, that I more or less just wanted something fun and gory to play on the couch with my friends. So I’ll mainly be discussing the gameplay mechanics here.
I’ll get the negatives out of the way first, and there’s really only two major complaints. The first is your brother in the game, a sort of a narrator/voice-over helper. His voice is just, well, too over the top. Its so gravely it makes Christian Bale’s Batman sound feminine. They tried too hard to make him sound scary, and he just sounds stupid. Secondly, sometimes it’s difficult to tell where you are supposed to go next, so I found major gaps in the action while I was just wandering around, trying to figure out where to go (though in fairness, that may be my fault and not the game’s).
But enough of the nitpicking, lets move on to the positives. This game has simply revolutionized the art of FPS AI. The enemies in this game are just fantastically smart. They call out correctly where you are hiding, they call out which gun you are using, they change cover repeatedly, upping the difficulty and the realism all at once. Its great to see a game design opponents that are more than simple, Call of Duty-esque enemies. Here, they don’t just pop up from behind the same cover and shoot at you, they actually move into better positions and work together in a manner many games would love to be able to achieve. And not only that, but the cover they are hiding behind is often destructible. The game doesn’t possess the level of destructible environments that the Battlefield series has attained, but by having it, to an extent, really adds to the gameplay. Furthermore, the weapons are designed in a great manner and are fun to use, and there’s plenty of them. The unique, over-barrel magazine shotgun in particular was my favorite.
Since this is supposed to be a horror gore game, I might add that not only are the environments destructable, but the enemies as well. Their limbs will fly off, and if they survive, they will continue to hobble towards you. Zombies in the game will lose arms, cover their wounds, and continue on. People will rush you with bombs strapped to their chests and dive suicidally at you when they are close enough. And the soldiers will shout orders and discuss finding you, which adds to the immersive effects. I honestly didn’t have high hopes about the game, but I was blown away by the realistic way the battles are conducted.
Is the game scary? I don’t think so. Its more creepy than anything. Its got some pretty dark and twisted moments and you can tell the developers tried their damnedest to earn that M rating. I think the scary little girl with black dirty hair cliche is too overused in media today though (too much of a throwback to The Ring). Its not really a horror game as much as it is a well done first person shooter with some pretty bizarre and dark moments thrown in for good measure. But the biggest compliment I have to give this game is the bullet time feature. Its certainly a nod to the Max Payne series (which was also a pretty twisted FPS), but any time I get to shoot a room full of guys in slow-mo, I leave satisfied. It certainly helps you get through the more difficult areas in the game (which I recommend only playing on the hardest difficulty). Plus sometimes when you down enemies, they continue crawling towards you. They must get paid a ton for that level of determination.
Fear 3 is a good game for the place I’m at right now. Its not addicting enough to interfere with my real life, but its fun enough to tide me over until some of the bigger titles come out, like Rage, BF3, MW3, and Skyrim. Wow, there are tons of great games on the way. I’d recommend Fear 3 for when you, like myself, find yourself in a gaming slump and want some gratuitous violence and pretty damn good graphics. And hell, maybe there are folks out there, dedicated Fear franchise fans, who could add more concerning the story. But for me, Fear 3 was more of a venture into a genre I don’t normally visit. I was certainly not disappointed, but when its all said and done, I’m still more excited about some of the games on the horizon than I ever was about Fear 3.