Boo! If that scared you, welcome to the world of F.3.A.R / F.E.A.R 3 / Fear 3 and watch yourself, things like that'll be happening all the time.
If it didn't scare you, then the third F.E.A.R (from now on, it'll just be Fear 3, as it's easier to type) will cause you no problems at all, because the shock tactic is the only method it employs to unnerve the player. Compared to something like Amnesia it's like watching Blue Peter. Admittedly a Blue Peter where Valerie Singleton is disembowelled by a maniacal Mark Curry, but still.
Perhaps it would have been scarier or at least more atmospheric if there'd been any real sense of connection with the world around you, but as you'll pretty much be asking the “wait, why exactly am I doing this?” question for most of your time with it, this connection never happens.
Why do you start in a prison? Why is the prison in Mexico? How come your brother's ghost makes very loud footstep noises? Why is the main character suddenly able to 'sync' with the souls of the selected dead?
These and many, many other questions will plague both new and old Fear players alike. It feels like this third game has been produced a little bit for the sake of it, as certainly plot-wise it's completely unnecessary. It would have been much better to have started a new saga under the Fear label rather than artificially extending a story that was getting stretched paper thin after the second iteration.
As for combat, things are similar. There's nothing intrinsically wrong, it just feels a bit tired, in single player at least. It feels like the second game, a bit weaker and less substantial in the fighting department than the superior first outing. One new addition that does make the regular action a bit more interesting is the mini-challenge, where doing certain things during play earns you points. For example, get 25 kills with the basic machine gun to earn a bonus or get 5 kills immediately after vaulting over an obstacle, that sort of thing.
When playing co-operatively, the game's major campaign 'innovation', you and your chum, playing as Point Man (main, non-dead, character) and Paxton Fettel (secondary, dead, character) you can compete to see who gets the most during each level. You can also choose to share certain rewards if you so wish. Playing with a friend makes it even less likely any of the game's attempted scares will have any affect, but it does make the rather plain action come to life a bit, with the ethereal powers of Fettel combining with the bullets and always fun melee attacks of Point Man.
It's in multiplayer where the game shines the most, with the co-op supplemented by four new modes that thankfully aren't just boring old deathmatch and capture the flag. There's Soul King, which is the primary competitive mode, where you take control of a ghost/demon thing and harvest the souls of the AI humans that inhabit the level. Other players are also trying to do this and you can fight them in your spiritual form or by possessing the body of a human and laying into your foes that way. If a player is killed, you can then steal all their souls and jump right to the top of the leaderboard. The leader is, however, flagged up and visible to all, so it's risky taking a lead early on. Timing is key and a late grab for victory is often the only way to guarantee success.
Of more interest is the … tribute to Call of Duty's zombie mode, Contractions, where you and up to three buddies have to see off hordes of enemies while repairing barricades and avoiding the mischievous presence of a ghostly Alma, the child/old woman/demon nemesis/mother from the series. Acting like the Witch from the Left 4 Dead series, looking at her or being too close can cause her to turn her unwanted attention on you, perhaps teleporting you out into no man's land, blinding you temporarily or simply knocking you to the ground.
The third mode is Soul Survivor, which sees one player in the group 'corrupted' by Alma and the survivors having to hold out for rest of the round while the now 'evil' one tries to recruit them to the dark side.
Last up comes the aptly named F*cking Run mode, where your team has to get from point A to point B, which sounds easy. The trick is that behind you is an ever-advancing wall of insta-death fog. If one person gets caught up in it, that's the end for the whole team. It's easily the most intense part of the whole Fear 3 experience and while one hesitates to describe it as the 'best' bit of the whole game, it's certainly right up there. But while the multi might be better than the single player, none of the four modes have anything resembling genuine long term appeal, unless modders on the PC or new DLC in general appears quickly.
So Fear 3 is a reasonable package and it's safe to say that - while it's not brilliant and the whole Alma saga MUST end right here, right now – it could have been a lot worse (see Perseus Mandate for Fear 1).
However, the plot is badly explained and is full of holes, with each level feeling more like a set piece they wanted to get in there rather than a genuinely meaningful next stage in an evolving story. The ending might well be the best part of the single player story, but on the whole it's a confusing affair.
Also, there are far too many COD-isms, like the whole second chapter set in a Modern Warfare 2 favela and the constant loss of control to a cut scene that sees you thrown to the ground. As an overall package, it's just about worth a punt, though.
Not necessarily at full price, because it doesn't have the long term depth of other shooters, but that's because it's at least tried something different with its online components, and you do get the opportunity to play through the single player as Fettel once you've done it with Point Man first.
- Multiplayer tries something a bit different, plus co-op.
- Reasonable shooting action
- Single player can be completed from two perspectives
- Multiplayer needs lots of DLC/modding to keep people playing
- On the whole, a badly implemented plot
- Completely harmless and not at all scary in any way
The Short Version: A good if probably short-lived multiplayer is backed up by an unspectacular single player campaign, although there is co-op. On the whole, it's on the good side of average.