Friday, June 24, 2011

FEAR 3 Review – First Impressions

[UPDATED (July 14, 2011)]

[I've published my FULL F.E.A.R. 3 Review. Click HERE.]

The developers of the third installment in the PC horror first-person shooter have addressed several things that bogged down FEAR 2. This FEAR 3 review will cover my initial thoughts about the improvements made. These are:

  • The cover system is back
  • The submachine gun now sounds right
  • Level designs have been improved
  • Return of the REV powered armor mechs
I was planning to wait and release my review after I’ve finished the PC game but I’ve read several reviews and forum rants and praises that may be misleading for some. This has prompted me to make a "First Impressions" FEAR 3 review.

Since this is a "First Impressions" article, I will of course, make a full critique after I finish the game.

I don't think the game is short. Three hours in and I still have yet to see any serious plot development.

The FEAR 3 review after the jump.

First off is FEAR 3’s submachine gun.

The new submachine gun feels powerful without sounding over the top. It’s very satisfying to fire and it even sounds better than the first FEAR’s RPL. Kudos to Day One for rectifying the horrible mistake that was the Andra.

Tactical Firefights

The developers of the PC game have reinstated the cover system---and then some. In addition to leaning, they’ve copied Mass Effect’s cover system, allowing players to pop in and out of cover to take potshots at enemy troops. They’ve also included vaulting and have innovated by implementing a dive feature; pressing space while strafing and in cover causes you to dive to whatever cover is nearby.

Level Design

While most of the levels I’ve ran were mostly corridors, there were a lot of places that allowed the AI to flank me. I’m very happy with this development as FEAR 2 only presented me with enemies that didn't try to maximize their firing arcs. In FEAR 3, ATC forces successfully flanked me a handful of times.

Weapon and Enemy Design

While I’ve yet to encounter Replica forces, FEAR 3 this time has a more cohesive design scheme with the rest of the series. The guns now conform to the art style utilized by FEAR 2; bulky black-grey affairs with touches of color here and there.
In my opinion, these are more appealing than the monochromatic guns of the first FEAR.

>>>See my "How to Fix the Jitter Bug in F.E.A.R. 3" article (includes steps on how to go about forcing DirectX 9 in FEAR 3)

The ATC forces are different from the guards in FEAR 1 but I don’t really find them disturbing as much as the Variant VIIs, which deviated radically from the clones present in the first FEAR (see my FEAR 2 Cons Review).

What really struck me as impressive is the developers’ decision to include, once again, REV powered armors in the game. In a series that has drastically changed in art style, these one-man ambulatory weapons platforms have always been the staple. Monolith and Day One should have included more of these “constants” though --- a series always needs them. BioShock has its Big Daddys. Metal Gear has its main characters swathed in form-fitting black outfits. The weapons and the mechs are a start though and maybe the developers have decided that the design scheme of the first game is the odd man of the bunch (seeing that FEAR 2 and 3’s firearms look more alike than those of the first FEAR’s.)

UPDATE: The PC release currently suffers from stuttering/jitter problem. No one has posted a solution to but a patch should hopefully be in the works. That or Day One Studios will suffer a major reputation problem.

I’ll expand on this once I finish the campaign. (I will also review the campaign---without giving away spoilers of course.)