F.3.A.R is the third game in the series and sees the return of Paxton Fettel, Alma and the Point Man

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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  August 18, 2011

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Key Specs

Number of players: 1-16
Online play: Y
Price: $73

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The F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) series got its first outing in 2006 and began the story of the Point Man, Paxton Fettel and the terrifying entity, Alma. F.E.A.R. was followed by a direct sequel titled F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin (released in 2009) and now, with F.3.A.R. (F.E.A.R. 3,), developer Day 1 Studios concludes the story arc started by the first game.

Like its predecessors F.3.A.R. is a horror FPS title but unfortunately it isn't quite as terrifying as its prequels. This is because whereas in the other two games you were dealing with the unknown and coming into contact with some original and pretty freaky experiences, here, you've seen it all before. You now also have a much better understanding of what's going on, assuming you've played the other two games. As a result things don't get inside your head and mess with you as much as they did before. If F.3.A.R. is the first game in the series that you're trying however, you're in for a reasonably scary experience.

Another reason F.3.A.R might not shake you to your very core is because it is quite dated on the visual front when compared to recent horror titles. The game simply can't create chilling scenes and sequences in the same way that games such as Dead Space 2 and Resident Evil 5 can - if you're a seasoned horror gamer F.3.A.R. just won't cut the mustard.

Lack of scares aside F.3.A.R. is a strong FPS title that merits playing thanks to its top-notch shooting elements. You'll find a decent array of weapons on offer and while some weapons are more suited to dealing with certain enemies than others, you'll be able to get the job done either way. The game boasts tight controls and solid collision detection too, so picking targets and taking them out never gets frustrating.

Playing the game as the Point Man you're able to slow down time and while this is not a new addition to the series, it's still a cool ability that opens up a world of possibilities in terms of combat. That said we found that playing the game as Fettel made for a much more interesting experience, as he has the ability to take over the bodies of enemies from afar. Thanks to this you can easily come up with interesting and creative ways with which to dispatch enemies. You're in for an even bigger treat if you play the game cooperatively with a friend. Going this route you're able to come up with some very interesting ways to kill foes as one player can play as the Point Man and the other as Fettel.

Completing the single-player campaign on your own can take a lot of time and effort, thanks to some clever artificial intelligence. Playing on the ‘Commando' (medium) difficulty setting we found ourselves falling prey to enemy soldiers quite often. Enemies duck behind cover, intelligently jump out of harm's way and employ a fair few tactics to flush you out from cover if given the opportunity. Playing on this difficulty setting we also found ourselves running out of ammunition from because the game throws intense firefights at you quite frequently.

As we said earlier F.3.A.R. isn't very strong in the graphics department compared to other horror titles and this affects its ability to generate creepy scenes.  That said the game still looks quite decent - the awesome blood splatter effects you see when you fire a shotgun at enemy soldiers are thoroughly gory and satisfying. The various environments are also appropriately desolate and creepy - there's no denying this is a F.E.A.R. game.

There's some terrific animation too. Characters move realistically and when you get them in your sights and pump them full of lead, they react superbly to weapon fire thanks to the use of the Havok Physics engine. You'll find yourself satisfied after each and every firefight, whether you're playing with friends or on your own.

As far as sound effects and music, F.3.A.R. is sublime. The weapons sound great, the slow motion effects are brilliant and the music will make your skin crawl. The music and ambient noise fit scenes perfectly and help build tension tangibly as you progress, so you're still in for a treat with this latest F.E.A.R title.

For: F.3.A.R boasts strong competitive and cooperative multiplayer components that are a lot of fun.
Against: F.3.A.R won't shock you as its predecessors did.
Verdict: A reasonably scary and challenging first person shooter that includes great multiplayer elements and a strong single-player campaign.

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