Survival horror FPS is one of the only genres left in gaming that isn’t over-saturated. While there are plenty of tactical and arena shooters, horror is a mostly overlooked genre, headlined by very few titles such as the Bioshock and S.T.A.L.K.E.R series. Thankfully, F.3.A.R., gimmicky title and all, is here to help add to the scarce collection of first person horror.
So is the genre’s latest worth checking out, or are you better off just watching your favorite scary movie and calling it a night? Read on to find out.
F.3.A.R.’s campaign puts you in the shoes of either the “by the book soldier” Point Man, or his brother, the maniacal psychic cannibal Paxton. You’re tasked with once again putting down the evil Armacham Technology Corporation’s monstrous creations – most notably, the sadistic psychic Alma. In stark contrast to the rest of the industry, F.3.A.R. adds co-op (online and split screen!) to the series. In a world where developers such as Infinity Ward are taking out cooperative offline campaigns in favor of focusing on solo play, Day 1 Studios is making an attempt to accommodate both factors – and I have to say, it really works.
While playing as Point Man is your typical fare (which is often boring), I found the game to be at least twice as enjoyable with Paxton. Your psychic powers allow you to force choke enemies, fire unlimited amounts of bolts out of your hands, and possess soldiers (gifting you with all their weapons and abilities). Basically, it feels like a jacked up Bioshock playthrough, which is a blast – so make sure you play as player two if you engage in co-op!
In addition to the game’s co-op component, the score attack system in single player does a decent job of keeping you interested. You can complete challenges through an in-game achievement system to unlock new abilities like more slo-mo meter, and new melee attacks.
Presentation wise, F.3.A.R. does a good job of creating it’s own identity in terms of the game’s world, but as is the case with the rest of the series, with the exception of a few supernatural foes, the enemies look pretty generic. The game’s themes range from dark and disturbing to heart pumping adrenaline action. One minute you’ll be powering your way through an exploding prison, fighting high-tech mercenaries, and the next, you’ll feel like your sanity is slipping, fighting off evil apparitions and poltergeist-like attacks. For the most part, like the rest of the series, the supernatural side-show sections are interesting and well done, and the standard FPS sections are dull (with the exception of playing as Paxton, who spices things up a bit with supernatural abilities of his own).
F.3.A.R also features a unique multiplayer mode that’s pretty unconventional from the normal fare – which is a good thing, given the current level of FPS saturation. For starters, there really isn’t any “standard” competitive play on the menu: the four modes, entitled F’ing Run, Contractions, Soul King, and Soul Survivor, are basically all extensions of co-operative gametypes.
F’ing Run and Contractions are basically a horde style mode; Soul Survivor puts one player in the shoes of a demon, forcing the other three to work together to defeat him; and Soul King has all four players as the demon, tasking them with possessing enemies to kill each other.
Out of all them, I heartily enjoyed both F’ing Run and Contractions, mostly due to my love of Call of Duty’s zombie mode. “Run” adds a sense of urgency by forcing you to constantly dash from checkpoint to checkpoint to avoid a misty wall of death, and Contractions one-ups most horde modes by adding both an adjustable difficulty level and a finite number of rounds (making victory actually feasible and increasing your enjoyment factor, if you’re tired of endless modes).
Thankfully, all these maps can be played solo with enemy bots; a mechanic suspiciously absent from nearly every shooter these days. While these modes will no doubt appeal to players who are seeking a more co-operative shooter, the hardcore crowd will most definitely want to stay away due to the lack of infrastructure, and it’s safe to say you won’t see F.3.A.R. headlining any MLG events anytime soon.
While F.3.A.R may not be the most competitive FPS on the market, it offers a ton of unique mechanics you really can’t find anywhere else. Fans of survival horror and seekers of unique multiplayer modes are sure to find something they like in this package.
Gamer Limit gives F.3.A.R an 8.0 out of 10.