Giant Bomb Review

206 Comments

F.E.A.R. 3 Review

2
  • X360

After the previous games' high standards for chilling atmosphere and cinematic intensity, it's hard not to be disappointed by the common FPS trappings of FEAR 3.

If F.E.A.R. were a movie franchise, F.E.A.R. 3 would be the direct-to-video sequel. Even though it picks up--and, ostensibly, ties together and concludes--the disturbing, apocalyptic threads left dangling by the first two F.E.A.R. games, the handoff from series developer Monolith Productions to Day 1 Studios is palpable. Rather than focusing on enhancing and exploring the stark atmosphere and high-tech tactics that has defined F.E.A.R. thus far, Day 1 seems more interested in incorporating elements from brand-name shooters like Call of Duty and Killzone, adding features without adding value. Even to this end, F.E.A.R. 3 doesn't crib with particular inspiration. It's an experience that feels diluted and common, a horror game afraid of its own shadow.

For what it's worth, Monolith left the series in a pretty crazy place at the end of F.E.A.R. 2, one that would require some serious commitment to top. After the all-out psychic warfare between the sinister Armacham Corporation, multiple paranormal/paramilitary F.E.A.R. teams, and that unkillable, stringy-haired J-horror arch-psychic Alma Wade, the seemingly quaint every-berg of Fairport is essentially a smoking hole in the ground populated by equally murderous psychos and mercenaries. Worse yet, Alma--having evolved from spooky ghost girl to spooky ghost teen--is pregnant, leaving all surviving parties scrambling to either harness her awful powers or put an end to her, once and for all.

Permanence, though, doesn't seem to mean much in F.E.A.R. 3. Paxton Fettel--the cannibalistic boogeyman from the first game--bounces right back from the point-blank trepanning provided by the Point Man, his brother and returning F.E.A.R. protagonist. Surprisingly cool about the whole attempted fratricide thing, and seemingly more powerful than ever in his ethereal new incarnation, Fettel frees the Point Man from Armacham clutches, and accompanies him as Pointy races towards some kind of resolution, acting as a bad conscience along the way.

More than Alma's tortured existence, her incredibly disturbing supernatural pregnancy, or even the increasingly imminent End of Days that have loomed large, the uneasy alliance between Paxton Fettel and the Point Man is the crux of F.E.A.R. 3. It's a direction that seems dictated by the decision to make cooperative play a big focus in F.E.A.R. 3, rather than a natural progression for the fiction.

Though the initial single-player experience puts you behind the Point Man's brooding beard, with all of the time-slowing abilities that accompany it, a second player can leap in at any time as Fettel, whose abilities contrast significantly. No bullet-time, and, in fact, Fettel can't even use conventional weapons by default, but he can possess enemies, simultaneously eliminating them as threats and turning whatever firepower they carry against their ill-fated compatriots. A new first-person cover system for both characters differentiates the overall feel from previous F.E.A.R. games.

With its shared, relatively short single-player and co-op structure, F.E.A.R. 3 seems to operate under the presumption that you'll want to play through these scenarios repeatedly--even if you have no interest in co-op, you can replay chapters as Fettel--but it's a flimsy premise at best, for a few reasons. Notably, the situations F.E.A.R. 3 puts you in just feel shopworn. There are a few sequences where you'll pilot powerful-if-trudging mechs, something that F.E.A.R. 2 did, and did better, but it's a lot of flavorless corridor crawling while peeking out from behind crates, punctuated by what are essentially wave-based survival encounters. Separate from the story, F.E.A.R. 3 has a handful of multiplayer modes that, at this point, shouldn't surprise you to learn feel an awful lot like the wave-based survival modes found in games like Call of Duty and Gears of War. Even the promisingly titled "Fucking Run" mode, where you have to chew through enemies while trying to outrun a constantly looming wall of death, is better in theory.

Uninspired combat scenarios and misguided cooperative elements aside, the biggest tragedy in F.E.A.R. 3 is that it's simply not scary, spooky, unnerving, or even a little bit surprising. Jump-scares and weird visions come predictably, though Alma is apparently too preoccupied to provide those very often. The game feels impatient, unwilling to allow any tension to build, constantly pushing you forward into the next firefight. I feel like it's incredibly telling that, in addition to a number of combat challenges that can earn you enhanced character abilities, each chapter has a pace time for you to beat. It's a point that tells players "don't worry about the mood, just run as fast as you can!" and it's a notion that's anathema to the spirit of F.E.A.R.. F.E.A.R. and F.E.A.R. 2 felt deliberately cinematic, but F.E.A.R. 3 goes in the exact opposite direction, and the naked gaminess robs it of any weight. That lack of weight extends to the game's look, which softens the shadowy, high-contrast feel and caricatures the characters, furthering a safer, cartoony feel, however gory it might be.

Whether you preferred the original F.E.A.R. or its sequel, F.E.A.R. 3 plays to the strengths of neither, almost feeling like a multiplayer spin-off that was begrudgingly upgraded to full-on sequel. There's a categorical compulsion here to play it safe, a mistake that even F.E.A.R. might not be able to return from.

206 Comments
Posted by spiralsin

Good review.

Edited by FluxWaveZ
@spiralsin said:

Good review.

You didn't even read it. 
 
And 2 stars sounds rough as hell for what I saw from the Quick Look. 
Posted by Loose

Dayumn

Posted by PhatSeeJay

It's a shame, because the co-op seemed to be quite entertaining. Then again, it should perhaps be the way to play it as a first playthrough.

Two friends over vent, or skype, will probably freak each other out more than the game itself?

Posted by ShaggE

I enjoyed it, but it was by far the weakest FEAR yet. And that includes the expansions.  
 
Chalk it up to a failed experiment, I guess. I say do a F.E.4.R. (ugh) just to wrap up the story, then put the franchise to bed. 

Posted by leejunfan83

uh oh

Posted by spiralsin
@FluxWaveZ said:
@spiralsin said:

Good review.

You didn't even read it.  
Pretty sure I did, actually.
Edited by FalseDeity

While points in the review aren't particularly wrong, I still thought it was a lot of fun. It's probably because I wasn't super into F.E.A.R. before that I was able to accept the weird design choices this time around. Could've used more time in the oven though.

Edited by therealminime

It's a shame because the first two were, for the most part, very solid. I guess having a completely different studio develop it is never a safe bet. Great review though, as always.

Posted by FluxWaveZ
@spiralsin said:
@FluxWaveZ said:
@spiralsin said:

Good review.

You didn't even read it.  
Pretty sure I did, actually.
Yeah, sure. Within a minute of it being posted you read the whole thing. Incredible.
Posted by MiniPato

Wow, I figured it was a three star at best based on the videos I've seen of it. Though based on the quick look, the game really did look poorly paced with way too many waves of enemy encounters. Very little down time for atmospheric creepiness it seemed. I also noticed that the explosions did not look as good as in past FEAR games, even FEAR 1 had a shockwave effect that seems absent here. There also aren't any sparks from when bullets hit walls or objects.

I think making this game co-op probably helped in that it looks really fun with another player. But it hurts the game in that all the levels look tailor made for a co-op experience with a ton of enemies being tossed at you in open areas, so it might make playing by yourself a chore.

Posted by MisterMouse

well that is a bummer for this franchise.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Ouch. This looked pretty good to me, and it still might be a future purchase when it drops in price.

Moderator
Posted by Bloodgraiv3

You made some very good points, it's a shame, the game had promise. 
Posted by big_jon

Too bad, not suprized though.

Edited by spiralsin
@FluxWaveZ said:

@spiralsin said:

@FluxWaveZ said:
@spiralsin said:

Good review.

You didn't even read it.  
Pretty sure I did, actually.
Yeah, sure. Within a minute of it being posted you read the whole thing. Incredible.

Incredible indeed.
Posted by Afroman269

Not surprised.

Posted by Delta_Ass

I FEARed this...

Posted by Hector

Just wait till FE4R!!!

Posted by Danishmaggot

After seeing the first 5 minutes of the quick look, it was clear that Ryan already made up his mind after playing the first level. That disappoints me a little bit, but oh well.  

Posted by Sanious

Shame I just finished the second one and it was my first time ever playing a F.E.A.R. game and I quite enjoyed it a bit, was a lot of fun. In 2 I felt that the scares weren't that scary or unique but I still felt that were enjoyable, and that they  worked in the setting,  shame to see the 3rd one does less and seems even more uninspired.  I probably will still end up playing this when the price goes down, hopefully I won't be as disappointed knowing what to expect of the game.

Edited by spiralsin
@Danishmaggot
 
Yeah, I could tell he wasn't exactly thrilled with the game during the QL, but I agree with him that it seemed to lack the whole FEAR vibe. FEAR shouldn't be trying to emulate COD.
Posted by EchoEcho

So, this game has ended up exactly how I feared it would when I first heard that Monolith had passed development to Day 1. I kind of saw it coming, but I'm disappointed nonetheless -- I wanted to be pleasantly surprised. But like Ryan said, Monolith left the story in a pretty crazy place, and really nobody but them could have given it a proper, satisfying finish. Even if the game had ended up halfway decent, I still don't think it would have lived up to its potential. What a sad end to one of my favorite game series.

Posted by Redbullet685

I like the game quite a bit. The game is a lot of fun to me, but I wish there was more to the game.

Posted by spiralsin
@EchoEcho said:
So, this game has ended up exactly how I feared it would when I first heard that Monolith had passed development to Day 1.
That was my concern as well. Supposedly, Day 1 still consulted Monolith during development but I guess it wasn't enough.  Considering FEAR 2's cliffhanger ending, Monolith should have finished what they started.
Posted by Napalm

I'm really enjoying the game. I don't know why I'm having such a good time, even though I do agree with Ryan. The shooting still feels good, and blowing guys to bloody bits is still satisfying. I think there has been a competent amount of moody atmosphere, especially when you're trudging through the grocery warehouse and the suburbs. Altogether though, the intervals are shorter and a bit more streamlined. On the flipside, I feel it makes perfect sense, because you're essentially rushing to stop Alma's pregnancy. 
 
Currently, I just finished Interval 05: Towers, and it feels like the game is close to a conclusion, or it will be in the next couple of hours.

Posted by Zeemod

Anticipated 3 stars but damn is it really THAT bad?

Edited by falserelic

I had a blast playing Fear 3. It is pretty short but enjoyable.The game doesn't deserves a two.I would give a 7 out of 10.

Posted by AlwaysBeClothing

Fear 3 did a lot of things I liked with co-op, by making them distinct and still able to benefit the other player. I do agree that it wasn't very scary when we were both on headsets cracking jokes and yelling BROTHERRRRRRRR into the mics.

Edited by bybeach

Heh, this review forced me to turn on my old Pc so I could leave a fucking comment. I don't often disagree with a numerical review score from GB, but I do this one. I actually pretty much agree with Ryan's written words, I'm about a fourth of the way in. This is a competent shooter borrowing some themes from past Fears and also going off in it's own direction. I do not agree with this direction, neither evidently does Mr. Davis. Also there is a matter of what is cannon. Extraction Point was supposed to be the correct Expansion pack for Fear One, but this game is not respecting that. And of course that is only one of many things in terms of atmosphere and game play that Fear 3 is not respecting. 
 
But hey, it does seem a decent and competent FPS shooter. I myself was thinking Ryan would give it 3 stars, but he was so negative during the QL I was wondering if there was the off chance of 2. and here it is. I don't see it, functionally it  avoids failure. Not stupendous, but this game seems at the very least is journeyman competent. The shooting is tight, the cover system surprisingly good after you get used to it. And they gave thought to their enviroments and lets face it, that was not Fears greatest asset anyways. It was either a corridor crawl or an arena fight from One on, though with great tactical opportunities. Not sure if tactical is quite as featured in this one, I will have to see. 
 
 SoI don't agree with the numerical scoring that affects the overall rating, my opinion. But most everything he wrote why I do agree, and I too wonder if they have now finally finished throwing this unique franchise away. But for what it's worth, so far this is a fun engrossing game to play.
Posted by Brackynews

Some people seem to like it. Penny Arcade for one.

I almost fell asleep during the QL. But then again I eventually picked up F.E.A.R. 2 purely on Ryan's good words about the mech sequences, and I still haven't played it. I don't think it's a franchise that drives people toward it.

Posted by Lucidlife

With Ryan and Jeff you can expect low scores on any game that isn't MK or some overly hyped indie bullshit....or bastion. Frankly, they both seem like they really need to take a break from actually PLAYING games for awhile and see if their jaded gauge can lower a bit.

Posted by RYNO9881

Too bad. Hope the trend of trying to emulate Call of Duty doesn't continue.

Posted by gla55jAw

Dammnnnnnn. I've got to say it looked pretty lame in the QL. Oh well. I've been meaning to play the first 2 though so there's always that.

Posted by FreakAche
@Lucidlife: Wha????
Posted by Bones8677
@bybeach said:
Heh, this review forced me to turn on my old Pc so I could leave a fucking comment. I don't often disagree with a numerical review score from GB, but I do this one. I actually pretty much agree with Ryan's written words, I'm about a fourth of the way in. This is a competent shooter borrowing some themes from past Fears and also going off in it's own direction. I do not agree with this direction, neither evidently does Mr. Davis. Also there is a matter of what is cannon. Extraction Point was supposed to be the correct Expansion pack for Fear One, but this game is not respecting that. And of course that is only one of many things in terms of atmosphere and game play that Fear 3 is not respecting.  But hey, it does seem a decent and competent FPS shooter. I myself was thinking Ryan would give it 3 stars, but he was so negative during the QL I was wondering if there was the off chance of 2. and here it is. I don't see it, functionally it is not that big of a fail. Not stupendous, but this game seems at the very least at least journeyman competent. The shooting is tight, the cover system surprisingly good after you get used to it. And they gave thought to their enviroments and lets face it, that was not Fears greatest asset anyways. It was either a corridor crawl or an arena fight from One on, though with great tactical opportunities. Not sure if tactical is quite as featured in this one, I will have to see.   SoI don't agree with the numerical scoring that affects the overall rating, my opinion. But most everything he wrote why I do agree, and I too wonder if they have now finally finished throwing this unique franchise away. But for what it's worth, so far this is a fun engrossing game to play.
You're missing the point, FEAR 3 does not respect its predecessors. It's not scary, it only cares about it's combat, which is uninspired and the co-op feels oddly forced in and not logical. 
 
Who cares if the shooting is "tight" there's already tons of other-better shooters out there. But few-if any at all-attempt to be what FEAR and FEAR 2 are.
Posted by Artie

I REALLY liked the first two levels, when zombies started showing up I was like "what is this," I still have a lot to go since I just started Chapter 5 but this isn't making me too excited. 

Posted by believer258
@FalseDeity said:

While points in the review aren't particularly wrong, I still thought it was a lot of fun. It's probably because I wasn't super into F.E.A.R. before that I was able to accept the weird design choices this time around. Could've used more time in the oven though.

I agree, it is really fun to play if not a bit generic. At least it has a few actual bosses, something that many modern shooters just can't seem to cough up nowadays.  And the few that are in shooters usually aren't very hard or very threatening. 
 
I think the reviewer is a bit hurt that this wasn't really a FEAR game so much as it felt like a spin off with a lot of fun multiplayer modes. If someone's reading this and they've got a buddy that they play split screen games with regularly, or a buddy that's willing to drop the cash to  buy his own copy, this FEAR game is well worth it for all the co-op you can drag out of it..
 
Overall, though, it doesn't deserve more than three and a half stars. Incredibly fun does not quite chalk up to the excellence that permeated the first two games, sad as that may be. Still, try it if you like shooters and especially co-op. It seems like a good game to have a beer (or a soft drink) over.
Posted by Napalm
@Bones8677: The game is tense in spots, and the shooting still feels tight and a lot like classic F.E.A.R. Maybe it's not as tactical or engaging, but the elements are still there to make it work and still make it feel like F.E.A.R.
Posted by Chango

Saturday reviews! Loving it (no interest for this game,  though). 

Posted by MisterChief

@Bones8677: A game should be judged for what it is and not for what you expected/wanted it to be. Ryan was down on this game from the start.

Posted by Winsord

Darn, seemed alright from the Quick Look, but the review definitely clears things up a bit. A shame :/

Posted by believer258
@zeemod155 said:

Anticipated 3 stars but damn is it really THAT bad?

It's actually quite good, refer to my comment a few posts back.. At least if you've got a buddy around somewhere. What it does not do is get close to the quality of the first two. Still, it's fairly entertaining to play with friends, and even by myself I really liked the single player.
Posted by bybeach
@Bones8677 said:
@bybeach  
 
. You're missing the point, FEAR 3 does not respect its predecessors. It's not scary, it only cares about it's combat, which is uninspired and the co-op feels oddly forced in and not logical.   Who cares if the shooting is "tight" there's already tons of other-better shooters out there. But few-if any at all-attempt to be what FEAR and FEAR 2 are.


How am I missing the point when I acknowleged the same lack of repect in terms of cannon and such?  I said as much in my comment. As for the rest being uninspired and such, that is your opinion. If you read my comment you would see my disagreement was with the numerical score, not with the written review. My opinion.
Posted by pochunki

awwwwh. really? i was hoping it'd be good. might still give it a whirl.

Posted by synapse720

I never made it all of the way through the first game and was then pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the second. Fear 3, though, is an utter disappointment. I've played through the first three intervals and I'm really not sure if I want to keep slogging through it despite being something of an achievement completionist/whore. Pretty scary.

Posted by dr_mantas

3 stars seems more correct for this one, but maybe it's just me.

Online
Posted by TravisT

A review I can't owe enough thanks to.

Posted by CTS_1987

Yeah I played and love the first two games a shit load and i played the third game and i was very disappointed in it alot. F.E.A.R 3 didn't even keep the elements that the first two games. If they make a F.E.A.R. 4   Monolith Productions  shall reprise their spot in makin' F.E.A.R. games DAMNIT!