Previews

FEAR 3: One scare too far?

Should we F.E.A.R. the worst?

It's all gone a bit silent. Not the good kind of silent either, but the is-that-a-noise I-heard-coming- from-under-the-bed silent.

It's the sort of silence that happens after a game gets delayed and the team involved are taking a long hard look at themselves and what they've been developing.

On paper, at least, FEAR 3 still sounds like an exciting prospect. It promises new thrills every time you play thanks to an AI-director-style randomised scare system and, in leveraging the talents of folk behind MechAssault, it boasts mech sections that should be cockpit and pistons above the competition.

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There's a but, though. A few buts, in fact. Big ones.

Firstly, we're not convinced we'll actually play the campaign enough times to really appreciate the mixed-up fright cues.

And the thought of frequently re-treading old ground thanks to difficulty issues and checkpoint designs - niggly problems we spotted in our one and only eyes-on - worries us like an Alma-hosted Halloween party.

THE FRIGHT STUFF
On the issue of the Elite Power Armour sections, meanwhile, we've got to confess that regardless of how good these walking exosuit levels may be, the thought of more of them gives us a bit of a sinking feeling.

When used correctly they are exhilarating palette cleansers - but that's all they'll ever be.

Nobody could ever claim to play FEAR for the mechanized moments - people play FEAR for the horror promised in the title, for the visceral combat punctuated blood-splattered slow-mo, and for the smart enemy retaliations; so, extended mention of these plodding robo-sections does leave us feeling somewhat cold.

To put to bed all our doubts, Day 1 should really be releasing some decent (and new) gameplay footage, because FEAR's always been, first and foremost, a great shooter.

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People need to see that's still the case. Unfortunately, the videos we've laid eyes on since our first hands-on way back in February have mostly been ill-judged live action waffle, which has left us cowering for all the wrong reasons.

The only 'proper' trailer of note, with actual in-game footage, featured gameplay from the area we witnessed in action over half a year back.

Historically, FEAR has enjoyed only middling success when it's been in the hands of anybody but Monolith. The onus is on Day 1 to convince everybody that the shift in developer hasn't hampered the series.

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