REVIEW: F.E.A.R. 3 (Co-op) campaign

Game Name: F.E.A.R. 3
Platforms: 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Warner Bros.
Developer(s): Day One Studios
Genre(s): First Person Shooter
Release Date: June 21, 2011
ESRB Rating: M



I’m going to just jump right into this with full disclosure: I didn’t care for F.E.A.R. 3.  There’s a whole slew of problems with the title, which I’ll elaborate on in a second (after the jump, naturally).  On the plus side, I learned a valuable lesson about friendship, and how friends make even the most inane gaming experiences entertaining by their presence.  So that’s something, right?  Without the unwavering support of both Red (who watched the majority of the game) and Break (who I actually played the title with), I’m not sure I would have completed the game.  Hell, I even had fun playing with Break!  Upon reflection, however, I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the game, but I did rather enjoy the company.  Maybe it is because our session pretty much broke down into open mockery, our voices doing their best to create a pseudo Mystery Science Theater for gaming.

So far, friendship: 1, F.E.A.R. 3: 0.   Hit the jump to find out what my gripes with the game were!

The story is an absolute disaster: F.E.A.R. 3‘s story gets torn in two different directions, and both are jumbled from the get-go.  On one hand, there’s this dedication to concluding the story of Alma, which (FEAR 2 SPOILERS) sees this game start with her nearing the delivery of her demonic child.  The other story involves overcoming the childhood trauma Point Man (goddammit, just name him!) and his brother, Paxton Fettel, suffered at the hands of the Harlan Wade, a character who is barely explained unless you played the prior titles (FEAR SPOILERS: He was killed in the first game when Alma was released).  The problem here is that these two stories have absolutely nothing to do with one another, save for connecting characters.  The first chunk of the game centers around Point Man proceeding towards Alma with the intent to…I guess he’s planning on aborting her pregnancy?  Everyone ambiguously talks about “stopping the birth”, so while the ‘a’ word is never said, it is sure as hell implied. To confuse matters further, the last level has NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS PLAN.  It is suddenly about coming to terms with your past and facing your demons.  It is about as satisfying as I’m making it sound.

The cutscenes – Every level begins and concludes with an awkward cutscene, which might have something to do with the attached level.  Even the final level is guilty of this, showing a cutscene that has absolutely nothing to do with the final level.  It isn’t impossible to figure out what is going on, but it is clunky as hell.  Visually, the scenes are somewhat ugly, appearing pretty compressed.  There’s pretty significant color stepping, as well as pretty muddy colors.  I’m not sure if this problem is exclusive to one console, but it is pretty rough to see in a 2011 title.

The level design – Ok, so the story is a mess, the cutscenes are clunky, but how is the actual game?  Confusing, to say the least.  Several times throughout the game, Break and I were completely stuck.  Not because of the difficulty, not because of a puzzle, but because we had absolutely zero idea where to go.  One level is particularly bad, with some rooms being mirrored, resulting in a sense that you might be going backwards when you’re actually going the correct way.  This is especially bad, considering the levels are all linear.

The graphics are inconsistent – Parts of F.E.A.R. 3 look like an original XBox title, with the early levels (specifically the second level) looking the worst.  Several of the textures are blurry, and a lot of the level geometry is very clunky, resulting in environments that appear to be low in detail.

Damn, I’m really hard on this game.

Look, it isn’t all bad.  The gunplay can be fun.  The slow-motion kills are satisfying, and ripping apart your enemies with the shotgun rarely gets old.  If you have a friend to play with, the game is certainly worth a rental (and with a campaign that clocks in around five hours or so, a rental is all I’d recommend).  However, there are so many flaws with the fundamental design and storytelling to recommend the game.  This really isn’t a title for everyone, but some people (looking at Andrew) will enjoy it.  Just don’t pay $60 for it.

F.E.A.R. 3 was played through to completion, the campaign completed with BreakmanX playing as Paxton Fettel.  The game was played on the XBox 360.

  • Andrew Allen

    Some of your claims have merit. Others, I feel the need to contradict. Allow me:

    1. Going to the Project Origin home base didn’t have nothing to do with finding Alma; the two were one and the same. They found Michael Becket in order to learn from his memories where Alma was hiding, and it turned out to be the building where they grew up. This forced them to face their demons in order to find their mother again.

    2. Yeah, there were murky colors in the cut-scenes. No doubt.

    3. You guys got lost? You’re on your own there.

    4. The graphics are inconsistent, to be sure, but not damningly so.

    I feel you’re glossing over the most important victories F.E.A.R. 3 accomplishes in favor of nitpicking. The action feels great, Paxton is a blast to control and there’s really nothing else like him in almost any shooter, Point Man runs like silk, there’s a cool persistent leveling system, innovative multiplayer, and smart, aggressive A.I. All of that is kind of being glossed over in favor of “the cutscenes are murky and I got lost a few times.”

    You make four points against F.E.A.R. 3 here, but only one of them has much to do with the actual gameplay. In my opinion, gameplay is the most important thing, and I think F.E.A.R. 3 is a huge winner on that front first and foremost.

  • Mecha

    Nah, it sucks.

    • Andrew Allen

      Mecha you don’t know what you’re talking about, you watched a friend play it.

  • TheCrimsonKing

    I’m trying to understand why there are two reviews of this game when there are plenty of other games around.

  • Matthew Nyquist

    We all played this game and had vastly different reactions to it. Just giving you our varying opinions. Our hope is that people can align their tastes with staffers they agree with.

    • TheCrimsonKing

      Right on, I can appreciate that.

      How often do you guys get copies of games to review before they hit stores? I’m sure if a company did send you an early copy they’d probably expect a good review or else, right?

      I only ask because most games you review I’ve already bought, beat, and rebeat. Thankfully, however your site has plenty of other content which is entertaining and informative. For instance, I’m not buying a WiiU. :)