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F.3.A.R. (Xbox 360) artwork

F.3.A.R. (Xbox 360) review


"It is said that F.E.A.R can drive men mad, causing them to think and act irrationally. Developed by Day 1 Studios, the newly released F.3.A.R sets out to resurrect the very sense of the title. Unfortunately, F.E.A.R. 3 misses as a horror game, lacking in the fundamental element of effective scare. Players expecting to lay awake at night with a light on and closet door closed will greatly be disappointed. The inability to scare the player significantly hurts the game play, since after all the te..."



It is said that F.E.A.R can drive men mad, causing them to think and act irrationally. Developed by Day 1 Studios, the newly released F.3.A.R sets out to resurrect the very sense of the title. Unfortunately, F.E.A.R. 3 misses as a horror game, lacking in the fundamental element of effective scare. Players expecting to lay awake at night with a light on and closet door closed will greatly be disappointed. The inability to scare the player significantly hurts the game play, since after all the terror factor is the key reason gamers buy a game like F.3.A.R. While players may never experience an overwhelming feeling of fear, they can, however, expect to be horrified by the scenery–sickly grotesque images that serve as local color.

Continuing the narrative established in its prequels, F.3.A.R starts the gamer as Point Man, captured by Armacham Security in a prison-esque asylum that feels far darker and deadlier than mythic Alcatraz. Viciously interrogated, Point Man is saved by Paxton Fettel, his telepathic, cannibalistic brother. Point Man and Paxton Fettel work uneasily together, fighting heavy resistance mounted by Armacham Soldiers to arrive at an escape route through the slums of Fairport, an ironic name for a place as hellish as the unnerving asylum, where the word evil as a descriptor does not do the setting justice.

Fairport is tainted by scavengers and crawling with cultivists, driven insane by Alma’s surviving psychic influence. Upon entering Fairport, players discover the place to be far worse than they ever imagined. Alma’s paranormal power is growing and spilling into reality at an exponential rate. Sought after by Armacham’s security force who remain violently focused on eliminating all evidence of the city, Point Man must traverse the dark streets of Fairpoint and unraveling the mysteries that behold him, his brother and their deranged “mother.”

If the plot sounds terrifying, I assure you the game is not. Whether playing in the middle of the day with friends or at one a.m. alone, expect to not feel frightened. However, as a shooter game, F.3.A.R. makes for quality game play, mostly due to the addition of a terrific co-op option. As it turned out, I played with my brother and we got a kick out of being both virtual siblings as well as sibs in real life, as if we transferred part of our family on screen.

To that end, Day 1 Studio’s greatest achievement comes in its ability to capture the competitive nature of gamers (and brothers). While the main objective is survival, players are also participating in a silent race to earn “awards,” which are given to the top scorer at the end of each campaign chapter. Take it from me, sibling rivalry has never been so strong as both real and virtual brothers alike compete to receive the esteemed award of “Favorite Son.”
Completion of skill-based challenges comprises the major portion of a player’s score. Tasks include earning a set number of kills with a particular weapon, performing headshots or killing a string of enemies without taking damage. Players also get points for collecting “Psychic Links” hidden throughout each level, which can be shared between the two-brother team or stolen for a larger bonus given to whoever discovered the links first.

Another accomplishment is F.3.A.R’s “Contractions,” mode. Similar to the stamina required to repel Halo Reach’s invasion, players need to outlast and defend themselves against wave after wave of enemies, earning only a few seconds of relaxed breathing time before preparing to fight the next round. During these moments of respite, they have the option of rebuilding their defenses and gathering supplies from the outskirts of the map. But, unlike in Halo, Alma will randomly appear during a wave, sending players who stares at her for too long to the opposite end of the map, separating them from the relative safety of their allies and stronghold.

Also impressive are Paxton Fettel’s novel abilities. In his newly acquired spectral form, Fettel can possess enemies for a limited time, extending his stay by cannibalizing fallen enemies, or cutting his stay extremely short by exploding his host’s body. While flesh-and-bones Fettel is incapable of equipping weapons, which can become frustrating, spectral Fettel’s ability to take control of any enemy character desired, including a suicide bomber cultivist, more than makes up for his deficit. In contrast, Point Man’s controls have remained unchanged, with the basic, cover-based shooting skills and temporary time dilation skills featured in F.E.A.R. 2.

A bit uneven as well are F.E.A.R. 3’s multiplayer modes. “Fucking Run” is a gem of a mode, which challenges players to run through waves of enemies while being pursued by a towering cloud of death. Its extreme difficulty can hook you for hours. On the other hand “Soul King” and “Soul Survivor” both attempt to play on Fettel’s newfound possession powers, but they fall short.

The duration of the game is also short. Struggling to find a balance between a first person shooter and a horror campaign, F.3.A.R. provides two nights of play at most. The campaign is similar in length to Army of Two and may disappoint some fans with expectations set by F.3.A.R.’s phenomenal prequels.

However, despite these drawbacks, the game does provide solid entertainment matched with decent fun.

Rating: 7/10

GameDreamin's avatar
Community review by GameDreamin (June 25, 2011)

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zigfried posted June 25, 2011:

Nice review, just one little comment (since it's a pet peeve of mine). F.E.A.R 3 doesn't have any prequels -- a prequel is a sequel that's set in time prior to the previous games. The newest game in a series can't have prequels until more games get released.

//Zig

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