1ackluster campaign with an 3xcellent multiplayer
I've always had a moderate interest in the Fear franchise as I find the Alma Wade story interesting yet the blend of typical FPS with horror always felt a weird mishmash as opposed to Condemned where it fit perfectly. But still, the release of Fear 3 was met with such frustration as no less than 3 times was the game delayed from its original Fall 2010 release, leaving one to wish Day One Studios (Mechwarrior series, Fracture) and Warner Bros. to just announce the release when it was actually done. In addition to the ever-shifting release, the game as you can see is headed by a different developer and not Monolith which can make one skeptical not only whether the game will be a good end to the Fear trilogy but whether it ties up the whole storyline and leaves one satisfied. Well answers are sort of across the board as the game is just okay and not all that special, certain unanswered questions remain unanswered while the multiplayer suite offered is surprisingly entertaining.
At the end of Fear 2: Project Origin, Michael Becket, that game's protagonist, somehow got Alma pregnant and is now in captivity of the Armacham corporation. Playing as the Point Man of the original game and aided by his cannibalistic (and dead) brother Paxton Fettel, you're to go meet Alma and stop her from giving birth to...whatever it is as you make your way through infested department stores, an airport terminal and what looks like a South American favela as you battle demons, Armacham and other such demonic craziness.
From a gameplay standpoint, Fear 3 is not all that surprising but it works. The AI is still surprisingly capable, the slow-mo, while not as novel anymore, comes in real handy during gunfights and the creepier aspects get played up a lot more. However the level design is more prone to "um....now where do I go?" moments, some enemy encounters are borderline controller-throwing in their cheapness and for a game based on the imagery of one character (Alma), she doesn't even feel like the star of it, only making the smallest of her trademark brief appearances ever so often. In fact you hear her more often than you see her and the more modern-shooter enemies and the annoying-as-fuck dog things take center stage. You're also completing objectives as you progress through the campaigns from melee kills, specific weapon kills and getting headshots so you can rank up. They don't really amount to much other than the occasional unlock or to get the trophy/achievement but they're there.
From a storyline standpoint, without going into spoiler territory, the game tries to flesh out the relationship between Point Man and Fettel but the bulk of what you'd want to know about, such as Project Origin, Harbinger, Alma and even minor characters like Genevieve Aristide are barely addressed. Also the ending doesn't have the "wtf?" caliber of what Fear 2 had but it's a bit...unsatisfying to say the least. While it's nice to see this whole storyline wrap up, it doesn't feel like an all-conclusive finale and instead more like something thought of real quick to finish everything nicely and efficiently.
Single player may be a tad on the disappointing side but it's when the game goes online does it really find its legs. The game's campaign can be played co-op via online or split-screen as the 2nd player controls Paxton, one who can levitate, blast and possess enemies and subsequently he becomes way more enjoyable to play and makes Point Man all but bland by comparison. Ghosts who can be killed again aside, the game is way more funner and more dynamic when you're with another player and the challenges help keep things cooperative as well as competitive since all that ties into the game's ending.
On the multiplayer front, it doesn't have a traditional "multiplayer" per se in the form of TDM and Capture the Flag etc but rather it offers 4 unique gametypes. The 2 I played were Soul King and Contractions. Soul King has up to 4 players starting as spectres trying to possess enemies and kill others to gain points (their souls) and the more you have at the end, wins but like Halo Reach's Headhunter mode, the more points you have means the more visible you are to other players trying to bring you back down to size and ruin your day. Contractions is just your bog-standard Horde mode but your supplies have to be retrieved and brought back to a base where you can re-stock on ammo or get better weaponry. It's somewhat fun but it's a tad random and doesn't have the intensity of something like Nazi Zombies. The other 2, Soul Survivor which is kind of like Zombie mode from Halo 3 has one player possessing AI enemies trying to kill the other 3 and should one go into Last Stand and die, they too become a spectre with last one standing wins. The one that sounds the most exciting is one lovingly called "Fucking Run" as you and 3 teammates have to run from Alma's fog of death killing enemies along the way trying to reach safehouses.
Now unfortunately thanks to this new "ingenious" Online Pass system and Fear 3 being a rental, I'm unable to access Soul Survivor or Fucking Run and can't comment on the quality and fun those 2 modes can have so boo-urns to Warner Bros.
Even if Fear 3 was a stellar game, it's 10 dollars more than other games and I'm betting like the prior Fear games, the online will probably be dead over a stretch of time. The campaign is serviceable but not altogether stellar and the online modes are a blast but as someone who sort of liked the Fear series, Fear 3 is a strange disappointment and not the grand finale it should be.