F.E.A.R. 3 – Hands-On Impressions

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The F.E.A.R. franchise is now officially a trilogy, as the story of the creepy child turned super-creepy woman, Alma, continues. The game is due out on October 20, but we got a chance to play a bit of the game at E3.

For those not familiar with the soon-to-be-trilogy, the name is a double entendre. First, it is an anagram for the special government soldiers assigned to investigate paranormal occurrences- the unfortunately named First Encounter Assault Recon. Second it is because the game is scary! See, the team name is F.E.A.R., and the game is all about fear! Get it?

Anyway, the story of the series revolves around a girl named Alma that was discovered as a child to have extreme psychic powers. Scientists then began to experiment on her, and naturally, things do not go well. Alma’s powers soon take on a dark tone, and the just before she turns 18, she is put into an induced coma and impregnated twice.

In the first game, you play as “Point Man”, a member of the F.E.A.R. team sent to investigate an attack by a guy named Fettel on the research facility that it turns out is responsible for imprisoning Alma in the first place. The rest of what happens is spoilers, so if you are intending to play the F.E.A.R. games and wish to remain a virgin to the story, skip the next paragraph. Thar be spoilers here!

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In a super gross twist, Alma had two children while in a coma. The first turned out to be Fettel, the man attacking the facility (twist!), while the second was revealed to be Point Man himself (double twist!). Fettel is killed and his spirit is captured, while Point Man escapes. In the second game, Alma has survived (of course), and another unit is sent in to stop her. You play as a Delta Force operator named Michael Becket sent in to investigate a bunch of weirdness, which soon turns out to be Alma. As Becket you find Alma and begin to hallucinate. While tripping the light fantastic, Alma finds Becket’s body and has her with it. At the end of the game, Becket wakes up and Alma is pregnant with his child. A DLC was later released that saw a group of soldiers attempting to free Fettel’s spirit. They do so, which leads into the new game.

In F.E.A.R. 3, you once again take control of Point Man, but other than that, most of the plot is being kept under wraps. In the gameplay demo we saw, the co-op was the main feature on display. The game can be played either online or via split screen. The first player controls Point Man, who plays as a traditional first-person shooter protagonist. He does have a bullet-time-style ability that slows everything down, but otherwise he is a straight forward archetype. The second person plays as Fettel, who is a ghost. Fettel is a different type of character, with a unique power set. He cannot pick up weapons, instead replying on telekinetic powers. Fettel also has a very cool trick that allows him to possess enemies, switching him into a traditional first-person style of play for a limited time.

The demo we were shown displayed the brothers working their way through a horde of enemies, each using the abilities at their disposal to great effect. We weren’t given much context for the level we saw, which was a twisted apartment complex that randomly switched to a forest (possibly a hallucination, or some other supernatural tomfoolery), but the feeling of horror is definitely apparent. Once the guided demo ended, we were given a chance to play hands on as Pont Man.

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First, the game looks amazing. It moves fluidly, and the graphics are top notch. The first level we saw led to a bridge that showed a ruined city in the distance that was fantastically realized. The lighting and textures also helped add to the dark tones of the game.

The controls were intuitive and easy to pick up, and were responsive and smooth. Fans of the genre will have no trouble adapting, and new gamers should learn easily. The co-op mechanic was an interesting twist, as Fettel, who is a bit weaker, had interesting options, like the possession of enemies. When you are pinned down, to have your teammate suddenly take control of one of the attackers and turn on them, was a cool trick.

Although it was obvious that a tremendous amount of thought and effort was put into the co-op, the single player game is more in the vein of the previous entries, and you will not have a second player with you. Fettel will make appearances as part of the story, but don’t expect an AI-controlled assistant to help you out.

Fans of the series should be extremely excited for this game. What we saw and played looked amazing. Noobs to the series should catch up on the story, then get ready for the third part on October 20.

Warning: This trailer may not be suitable for all ages.