Gamescom 2010: F3AR First Impressions – This Time, Pack Two Pairs
Written Tuesday, August 24, 2010 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
Horror games that actually work seem to be few and far between, but FEAR has always managed to walk that fine line between balls to the wall action and genuine creepiness. The challenge for new developer Day One was to maintain the scares while still keeping the game as action intensive as players would hope. Thankfully they did work alongside Monolith when FEAR was original transferred to consoles, and it seems like that experience will prove invaluable. Dan Hay, Senior Producer at Day One was on hand to give us the lowdown.
The latest instalment is set nine months after the events of FEAR 2: Project Origin and that timescale soon becomes vitally important for one very obvious reason. Anyone that played through to the end of FEAR 2 may well know where this is heading (for the rest: look away now) as series antagonist Alma became pregnant. Obviously, as nine months have passed she is due to give birth – the only question is: to what?
Returning to the fray is the lead character from the original, Point Man, alongside his former nemesis Paxton Fettel. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the rest of us, Fettel is rather lacking in the body stakes and instead has to endure existence as a disembodied spirit. He is hardly going to let that stand in the way of his goals though, so the two form an unlikely alliance in order to try and stop Alma, the nefarious ATC and anyone else that crosses their path.
As they progress through the game they will experience a number of bizarre incidents, hallucinations and rift events. All of which are being caused by the contractions experienced by Alma. Who said giving birth was easy? In this case the rifts draw our protagonists back into their own memories and help to piece together the story a bit at a time. A neat touch is the fact that the memory will appear more vivid for the character with a clearer recollection of what happened, meaning the other player will have to endure a blurred image of a past they can barely piece together.
The emphasis here is very much on co-op play, with each character playing very differently and designed to compliment the other. Point Man handles exactly as you would expect and represents the traditional first person shooter to a tee. He can use a variety of weapons and still has access to his amazing reflexes that can slow time to a crawl allowing you to dispatch multiple opponents with ease. Point Man can also hijack a variety of potent mech suits and turn their firepower against their former owners. On the other hand, Fettel has a range of psychic powers to call upon including a standard energy attack, the ability to grab or stun foes and, most importantly, the ability to possess enemies and steal their bodies for as long as it takes for them to be made into Swiss cheese. Fettel can also psychically detect secrets passages and points of interest that may well benefit the unlikely duo. The two can also combine their powers to devastating effect creating a combination of bullet-time and psychic attacks that can clear a room in seconds.
The danger here is that Fettel seems to be far more interesting to play, not only because he has a range of interesting abilities, but because he can also just jump into the body of most enemies and have the same choice of weapons as Point Man himself. Seeing Hay power through one of the opening levels left most people glued to Fettel’s screen, as his character seemed to offer up all of the best ideas, while the action from Point Man has been seen countless times before. Whether or not the balance will be just right come launch is a matter for debate, as there is not too much you could add or change with Point Man without it destroying most of his back-story.
At the moment Hay would only confirm that Fettel was playable during co-op, though it would make sense for him to turn up during solo play as well – whether as an A.I partner or a controllable alternative is another matter. In order to crank up the tension, the game will also have varied spawn points each time you play as well, which will hopefully create a more organic experience as players will never be quite sure where the next attack is going to come from.
Suffice it to say that there will be an in-depth online multiplayer experience, though again Hay was coy about releasing too many details. Whether or not the psychic powers of Fettel could translate into online play is debatable, but it would be a crime not to make the attempt. Hay was keen to stress that people would get the “full Fettel experience” though, so signs are certainly promising.
With a mix of balls to the wall action and sinister story arcs, you can be sure that F3AR is going to be an intriguing experience and any game that has the pleasure of brushing shoulders with horror legend, John Carpenter, can pretty much guarantee the intriguing experience we speak of. We’ll have to wait till 2011 though to see whether Day One can continue the tradition of one of the true horror franchises left in the industry. We’ll pack some spare pants just in case. Two pairs if you’re bringing a friend along for the ride.
F3AR is now scheduled for a 2011 release.