I have heard nearly nothing but bad things about the game Silent Hill Downpour ever since its release, and for that reason I avoided picking it up initially despite being a fan of the series. Eventually I caved, however, and I'm glad I did. It's not a perfect game, but it represents the series well in what I'd so far consider a solid entry. This isn't a review though, as I haven't finished the game and perhaps it does in fact turn to shit, but I can't help but feel Silent Hill Downpour and many other games released recently (and not so recently) have been overlooked not because they're "bad", but rather they're not "omgawesome".
We live in a time where not just one or two mega-hit games come out per year anymore, and it seems that because of the frequency of super polished AAA blockbuster games most people have lost interest in titles released to anything less than 9-10 review scores. This is unfortunate because many fantastic games have been getting released only to be ignored because they weren't commercial juggernauts. That's not to say every game should succeed, as there some genuine stinkers out there, but it's just disheartening to see unique ideas get shut down in the face of bigger explosions and better marketing campaigns.
Playing through the game cooperatively was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had in video games in a very, very long time, and easily the most fun I've had with a coop game. With one player filling the role of the typical "gun dude"(Point Man) and the other as a crazy ghost man (Paxton Fettel) capable of suspending and possessing enemies, it really opens the door for some truly cooperative tactics, such as having Point Man run out to combat an enemy mech suit with a rocket launcher while Fettel creates a shield around him from behind cover.
There's also a slew of fun multiplayer modes, including a wave based survival type, and another calling F**king Run (actually censored in game) in which players must make a mad dash for the exit, but are barred from progress by hordes of enemies and are being pursued by a relentless wall of death. Between the "divergent coop" and the entertaining multiplayer modes, I found FEAR 3 to be hard to put down.
All that being said, fans expecting a core FEAR game are bound to be disappointed. It doesn't exactly have any scares to speak of, and the focus is definitely on two players working together to tear the badguys a new one. It's more of an action game, for sure, but I don't think it's such a bad thing. The action seldom loses its stride and the rate at which the game introduces you to new weapons, enemies, abilities, and gameplay mechanics makes it hard to miss slowly trudging through a dark corridor while ghosts go "boo!". It may be kind of a lame comparison, but I tend to think of FEAR 3 as the Resident Evil 5 of the FEAR series; more focus on action and coop, which definitely makes for a more enjoyable video game, but loses most of the heart and atmosphere established in prior entries.
I did really enjoy the previous FEAR games for their story and atmosphere, and while FEAR 3 may not be the direction fans want to see the game artistically or thematically go in, I do think it makes for an incredibly entertaining diversion that's fun for everyone.
If you've been to the front page over the last week (today is Sunday January 23,2011), you'll have noticed the crazy, soul piercing stare of Commander Shepard (male) from Mass Effect. I always forget it's there, and it nearly makes me jump every time I load up the main page. This isn't a complaint, but seriously, is anybody else aware of just how absolutely horrifying that stare is? If those eyes were bearing down on me in a heated space interrogation, I'd give up the goods; it's just not worth being glared at by that creepy-as-fuck stare...