Saturday, 6 October 2012

Fear 3: Game Design

The third in the trilogy, Fear 3 takes place several months after Fear 1 and 2 where the entire city New Port is now under psychic attack and Alma is pregnant. Pointman and Fettel have to return back to the city to face their mother and determine the future of their family.

Good points
Settings were well optimised- Most importantly for an action FPS, I have a slightly older computer but my computer settings were detected perfectly and there was no slow down despite the action packed smoke-filled scenes.

Paxton Fettel gameplay- Playing as Paxton Fettel the original Fear's man villain is also quite interesting and fun. As Paxton, you have the ability to grab enemies and objects into the air making them easier to shoot, attack enemies with long range psychic blasts and most importantly posses enemies. Possessing enemies allows you to control any enemy soldier for a limited time and allowing to wreck quite a bit of havoc. You can increase the time by killing enemeis and collecting their souls. It really changes the dynamic of gameplay because rather than hiding behind crates and cover like Pointman you'll generally be in the midsts of the enemies shooting enemies right after you possess them.

Game design problems
Lack of innovation and weapons- Pointman behaves almost identically to the first game and all the weapons you can use are weapons you've used before in previous Fear games. If anything I think the number of weapons might actually be less. As for Paxton Fettel, Paxton is fun to play with but the lack of new abilities or moves means you're doing the same things over and over again  after 15 minutes.

Lack of environmental attacks- Aside from exploding barrels, some destructible cover and lots of smoke, everything is pretty static. You can't for example, push boxes around or use the environment to your advantage. I was hoping for a bit more innovation.

Missed opportunity for a proper two character game- Like most other reviewers, it's frustrating playing through the single player campaign when the game is cleary designed for two players. The story and movie cutscenes always have Pointman and Paxton but in the singleplayer campaign you don't even have an AI partner of any sorts to order around making it feel disjointed. One way around this is to allow you to shift between Paxton and Pointman's abilities and bodies or why not just allow you to use Paxton's abilities as Pointman anyway? Overall its just such a missed opportunity.

Lack of skill developments- While I appreciate that RPG mechanics in FPS may not work in some games I think having an RPG like skill tree might actually have worked for this game. You have Paxton Fettel who acts like a mage and Pointman who is more of a warrior type and you have a story about psychic abilities. Furthermore, as you play and gain experience in the game you unlock higher health, minor upgrades to your hand-to-hand combat attacks and minor upgrades to your special abilities. Surely being able to unlocking completely different new abilities would be the next logical evolution of the game? For example Pointman might become becomes better at throwing grenades and be able to create fake clones?

Overall I found the game mechanically sound with good action. I played the single player campaign and a bit of the multiplayer with bots. It's a fun horror-themed shooter, think of it as a graphical and level upgrade to FEAR 1. It's not a bad game it just doesn't do enough for it me to consider it particularly great. The main problem lies with innovation. There were so many opportunities for it to innovate which were missed in favour of creating an action packed but otherwise standard game. Even the innovative co-op idea seems half-baked. I only paid about US$3 for this game and it is fun for what its worth but its such a wasted missed opportunity!

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