The Backlog: The Smell Of F.E.A.R. 3

I don’t expect the third game in a series to do anything that the first two before it didn’t. When it comes to the third game in a series, what can you really expect from it? To be more of the same? To be the most ambitious title in the series yet? To be the game that is the most inviting for potentially new fans? In F.E.A.R. 3’s case, I’m sorry, in F.3.A.R’s case, it tries to be all of this and fails almost entirely along the way. It brings ideas such as improved multiplayer modes and co-op campaign but slaps it all together in a haphazard way. Not only is F.E.A.R. 3 a bad game all wrapped up into an even worse package, it’s also just completely baffling from top to bottom.

This is what happens when you take a hot piece of garbage and make it your video game boxart.

This is what happens when you take a hot piece of garbage and make it your video game boxart.

Let’s first start with the box art, shall we? I personally thought we as a society were beyond the whole ‘using numbers as letters thing’ and that the healing could finally begin as we tried our best to remember catastrophes like Driv3r. But lo and behold, Day 1 Studios and Warner Brothers had other ideas and decided to stick the 3 in F.E.A.R. 3’s title in the worst place possible and resulted in a game that was doomed from the start based just on the box art alone. It doesn’t help that the rest of the box art is equally as stupid as the actual logo. If F.E.A.R. 3  was a movie with the same cover it would clearly scream “direct to DVD!”

Beyond the box art, things don’t get much better… Paxton Fettle, who was killed in the original game, is now back as a ghost and he teams up with his brother, Point Man, who was completely absent from F.E.A.R. 2, to find Alma before things get any worse. I say “team up” but the two have very different goals in mind. Fettle wants to become stronger and wants to reunite with his mother and become the ultimate mother/son wrecking crew, while Point Man is focused on actually putting an end to Alma’s shenanigans once and for all. These seemingly bland motivations are made slightly more interesting due to the games co-op. If you choose to play co-op, one of you will play as Paxton, and the other will play as Point Man. As you play the game, you will earn points for killing enemies as well as for performing other challenges throughout the game. You will rank up and earn more skills, but your performance actually dictates the ending you will get. You can do all of this through solo play by the way, but you unlock the ability to play as Paxton after every level which means you’ll have to play the game twice if you are playing by yourself if you want to see all the endings. There are two endings in the game, one you will get if Paxton has earned more points throughout the story, and the other if Point Man has earned more points throughout the story. Again, this is a really neat idea because of the uneasy and tension-filled partnership, but you still have to playthrough a rather boring and bland game, even if you are playing with a friend.

At least you can dual-wield these sweet guns… right?

I played the game by myself, and I played as Point Man. Part of that was because I found Fettle’s ghost powers to be lame, but also because the F.E.A.R. games have all been about first-person shooting with some slow-motion thrown in to keep things interesting. I found Point Man’s ending to be pretty good all things considered and I thought it was better than everything that had lead up to it, but it certainly wasn’t amazing or anything. I walked away from F.E.A.R. 3 not completely hating it, partially due to the ending and the amazing song choice that plays during the credits. I found the story to be pretty weak and it seemed to have more than it’s fair share of padding. The game is also about as scary as a Goosebumps novel. Any tension found in the first two games is nonexistent in this one. In a lot of cases F.E.A.R. 3 doesn’t even bother building tension or even having jump scares, and when it does it is super bland and the jump scares can bee seen from a mile away. The F.E.A.R. stories have never been scary on their own, it was instead the world and tone set that made everything seem a lot creepier than it actually was, and in F.E.A.R. 3’s case it trades almost all of it in for a half-baked roller coaster ride experience that feels completely unnecessary. Maybe at some point I will go back and play as spooky brother Fettle, but for now I am totally cool with not playing F.E.A.R. 3. In the end I don’t think F.E.A.R. 3 is the worst game ever made, but it is certainly a disappointing mess. I wish this wasn’t the game to cap off the series for the time being, but I do hope F.E.A.R. makes a comeback off some sort. I really enjoyed playing through most of the games in the series and I think it still has potential. I hope the people at Warner Brothers feel the same way, though I can understand if they never touch this series ever again.

The Backlog will hopefully be back sooner rather than later, but if it was to come back in a timely fashion it wouldn’t really be indicative of what The Backlog is now would it? Here’s to hoping the next game in my backlog is better than F.E.A.R. 3, but I won’t know until I play it. Thanks for reading and if you haven’t played F.E.A.R. or F.E.A.R. 2 you really should. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to dive back into my pile of games and I’ll see you all again when I come back up for air.

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  1. Ridcullys Hat

    very fair review of F.3.A.R. but I quite enjoyed it a bit more than 2. Probably for the fact point man was the protagonist (got bored playing as fettel) and I, as you said, enjoyed the ending you get for him. Its his story really and the guy you play as in 2 was an absolute bro/soldier type that I just couldn’t have cared less about although I don’t think he deserved what happens to him in 3. You’re right about the scares though, Almas presence just isn’t as menacing and this series, if they bring it back, dealt needs a jolt of utter, brown trouser scary type stuff thrown at it. The first game was done by monolith and they did a fantastic job at making you really worry about what was around the next corner and they carried that over in some form to the condemned series. Not the best games but an interesting idea and it does have that constant feeling of dread throughout.

    • F.E.A.R. 2 was also done by Monolith. I have Condemned 2 for my PS3 and I’d like to get to it at some point. If only I had a column on the internet that allowed me to write about the games I own but haven’t played yet…

      • Ridcullys Hat in reply to Vincent

        See, that’s why fear 3 just wasn’t as good as fear 1. I felt that 2 just didn’t help matters, apart from the end which made me jump quite well and you knew something was gonna happen but didnt know when. I really like the condemned series but there is something missing and I just don’t know what it is. They’re very brutal and the first one does make you jump alot but there is one scene in two that really makes you freak out a little (I won’t spoil it) but it leaves you really wanting more. Maybe its the melee combat and lack of guns that causes alot of the sense of foreboding but I loved them. Even the multiplayer was quite fun. Alot faster than the campaign but the detracts a little from my enjoyment of it as I liked the slower, more nail biting vibe I like in the series. I kind of like what monolith do (even have Gotham city imposters) but their ideas sometimes don’t work as well as they hoped.

        • Gotham City Imposters had some really cool ideas that were executed on fairly well. I remember playing a bit of Condemned 2’s multiplayer and thinking that it was pretty intense and brutal even if it wasn’t particularly original. I think some of the folks at Monolith left to form Blackpowder games who have a first person action game on Early Access called Betrayer. I know that it was announced semi-recently that Monolith was working on a LOTR action RPG too. I guess I’m okay with Monolith doing this licensed stuff if it means they get work, but I’d love to see them do a new IP for next-gen systems eventually.

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