F.E.A.R. 3 is an interesting beast. While the previous games in the series focused on explosive firefights and spine-chilling interludes, the focus has shifted to frenetic, point-scoring battle royales where the player, as protagonist Point Man, plows through each stage ripping through enemies all in the name of completing challenges combined with an explosive yet modest campaign, winning co-op, and vicious array of weapons. F.E.A.R. 3 is a pleasant, bloody surprise.
Alma, the devilish child-like wraith appearing to Point Man in the original game as well as protagonist Becket in the sequel, is now pregnant with Becket’s child. And since this Ring-inspired raven-haired mother-to-be’s child could harness some devastating psychic potential, it’s Point Man’s mission to stop her from giving birth by any means necessary. Unfortunately, it’s not simply a solo affair. Paxton Fettel, Point Man’s brother and familiar ne’er-do-well as seen in the previous games, appears to Point Man as a ghostly tag-along for the journey, narrating the story as well as handing out his own brand of “advice” whenever he deems necessary. The plot, admittedly, is scattershot unless you’ve been keeping up since the beginning, so if you’re looking to be pulled in through the third installation, I’d suggest playing through the other (inferior) games first.
But it’s not like this entry is doing anything revolutionary — it’s just doing a fine job of what a shooter should do: giving you plenty of weaponry to cause havoc (the High Velocity Penetrator, or nail gun, was a personal favorite) and serving up platters of fresh meat to gun down. Even swift knife kills play a part in this, and it’s a big beautiful ballet of bloodshet as you glide from enemy to enemy ensuring no one gets back up. No puzzles to overthink and nothing to keep your eyes off the prize. And sometimes, that’s how a shooter should be. Decent to look at with satisfying kills. And boy, are they ever satisfying. When you near the zombie-like masses with explosives strapped to their bodies, you’ll see why firsthand.
F.E.A.R. 3 is all about constant action as opposed to the stealth overtones and punctuated firefights of the previous games, and as you work your way through sewers, abandoned stores, and Favela-like shantytowns, it’s a constant rush to see how many points you can rack up per mission. From the simplest of tasks (staying in cover for 100 seconds) to the more difficult (go X amount of kills without being damaged) achievement junkies should feel right at home here. Though melee kills and some of the deadly munitions are satisfying enough, it’s even more delectable to watch your score rise as you mow down as many enemies as possible. It’s bad news for the attempt at immersiveness, but if you’re playing simply to do your best, F.E.A.R. 3’s scoring system will be a tough master. It does give you a reason to keep playing in an attempt to better your score, and for this I did re-try missions simply to go back at the end and check out where I was gaining all my perks from.
With a bevy of entertaining multiplayer modes, point-scoring goodness, and horror-tinged atmospheric wonder, F.E.A.R. 3 has shaped up to be a decent entry point for newcomers to the franchise, as well as a radically revamped installation for what could end up being much more than a trilogy. Let’s just hope we don’t see what happened to Call of Duty expand here. And less little “creepy” Alma, please. The gimmick is starting to wear thin on the nerves.