In Fear 3, we return to playing the character from Fear 1 and open with Point Man being roughly interrogated by Armacham Security personnel. From the beginning, the co-op premise of this game is set-up when we see his ghostly brother, Fettel, possessing the body of one of the guards, thus allowing Point Man the opportunity to kill the other. In single-player, we don't see Fettel, except in cut scenes, but his continual presence is indicated through his dialogue with Point Man. Both men have their reasons for finding their mother, Alma, who is in the process of giving birth to another child - one fathered by Michael Beckett, the protagonist of Fear 2. Alma's labour pains are once more tearing the city of Fairport apart, so together the brothers form an uneasy alliance to escape the asylum and regroup with a F.EA.R. operative.
Once reaching the city, they find the Armacham soldiers are either evacuating or killing the citizens. As Point Man makes his presence felt, one General takes a particular dislike to him and will not allow his men to leave the area until this "problem" is eliminated. In this mode, Point Man engages in traditional combat with Armacham forces as well as dealing with crazed citizens being used as suicide bombers.
The whole horror of the Alma story and Armachan's experimentations has almost become a side-note in this game. Instead we have some spectral creature relating to the brothers' past stalking them. However, throughout the game, attacks by this monstrosity happen only occasionally. When it does happen though, it inspires psychic phenomenon that causes Point Man to have flashbacks to his childhood. These visions show the brothers under the sinister influence and manipulation of their grandfather, Harlan Wade. There are also some other monstrous creatures thrown in for good measure.
Some characters from the Fear series show up in this one, including Beckett from Fear 2 and Jin, the technical officer from Fear. Although there is certainly a story, it is not well-balanced throughout and not developed to its full potential. This was a big disappointment to Fear fans who were hoping for something closer to the original Fear. The developer's concentration turned mostly to co-op/multiplayer and in-game challenges. Meeting these targets increases certain things like slo-mo time and health. At first, I found the stats continually popping up on screen to be distracting, but later got somewhat used to it.
Opinion on the graphics is split, proving how subjective this can be. Some people think they are great while others think they are mediocre. Some of the environmental stuff bleeds together into a sort of haze causing a slight blurriness - a style that is not particularly my cup of tea. Another notable difference to the other games is showing Point Man's face in the cut scenes.
After playing each interval as Point Man and unlocking the level, you can replay that mission as Fettel. Given Fettel is a ghost, having been killed by his brother in a previous game, there are distinct differences in gameplay. Fettel must possess bodies in order to use traditional weapons, but cannot stay in them too long without collecting more souls. He also has a few psychic abilities such as telekinesis to suspend an enemy as well as a stun blast. It's easy to see how the game is designed for playing co-op. The ultimate goal of each character is also different and playing either one will slightly change the ending.
I found the game quite hard on Commando (which would be normal in other games). If you're having difficulty, watching other people play on youtube can help you form a strategy. You can also change the mode on any level. The AIs are quite smart; they will hide, take cover and be on the move a lot making them hard to target. Each level (interval) begins with only a pistol and you pick up weapons along the way. There is not a big selection of these, which is okay as some games go overboard on this. Also, you can only carry two weapons at any time, which often makes the choice a little difficult as you never know exactly which one will serve you best for what's coming. However, if you see a lot of one particular kind, it can be a hint. Using each weapon also has a challenge attached to it. There are three types of grenades, but aiming can be a little difficult as the enemy never stands still. Boss fights are quite hard due to grunts also running around calling out your position to the big guy. One new feature is the camping and leaning. This works great from a distance, but during many fights you will need to keep on the move as the enemy flanks you. The combat is not kind to Point Man.
Sadly, as with quite a few serial games, the things that make them so popular seem to get forgotten in the sequels. They move from winning formulas into generic challenge mode games where character building and the story take a back seat. Fear 3 is just really not the Fear we came to know and love. This is not to say that in its own right it's not an okay game, it's just gone off the rails as part of the FEAR franchise. Who knows why they decide such things, whether it be budget restrictions, lack of ideas or some misguided notion of what the fans really want. Riding on the coat tails of Fear, the game probably sold quite well in expectation, but it won't fair well over time as a classic.
The price took a big drop fairly quickly, indicating what fans thought. It might have performed better under a different title as it's a decent enough experience as far as gameplay. I understand that the multiplayer is a dead issue, but as a FPS, it's still fun and plenty challenging enough for single-player and co-op.