“F.E.A.R. 3” aims higher than your typical shooter with cool combat features, paranormal story line, and a dramatic tension that goes missing at times.
The game (Day 1 Studios, Warner Bros. Interactive) continues the story of a family in conflict as two brothers work together in an effort to get to their psychically enhanced mother, Alma, who is about to give birth. However, their reasons for wanting to find dear Mom are totally opposite.
Co-op mode is the preferred mode of play so you can take advantage of each brothers’ skills during combat and strive toward the highest score on each level. You can play as Point Man, well versed in military training and technique, or as Paxton Fettel, slain during “F.E.A.R” and returning once again as a ghost with psychic energy powers.
Point Man, who can also be used in the single player mode, is able to utilize all the weapons found throughout the game. He also has an ability to slow down the action due to his hyper-reflexes and grant him an advantage to dodge and counterstrike.
Fettel, who is unlocked as a playable character after solo missions are complete, uses his psychic powers to attack or possess foes. If he possesses an enemy, he can use the abilities of that enemy to fire weapons or activate other powers.
The brothers must wade through wave after wave of soldiers, wacked out cultists, and creepy creatures created from Alma’s mind. The battlefields range from a looted out food warehouse to the science bunker where Alma is being held.
While the action is pretty linear, there are off-shoot areas to explore to discover hidden weapons and ammo, psychic link gathering locations, and the Alma doll, which scores big points when found. Points also translate into special abilities and a higher rank to help you with additional health, more ammo, and other perks.
First-person shooter combat benefits from the slow motion ability from Point Man as well as an excellent cover based system. Hiding behind walls or crates is simple and allows for easy pop-up moves to pick off targets under relative safety.
There are some enemies who are shielded and require some extra work to defeat. There is also one called a Phase Caster, who summons additional soldiers over and over again. Kill him first. Seriously.
While most of the action is person-to-person combat, there are a couple of areas that let you get inside a mech to blast away at helicopters, other mechs, and hidden snipers. Keep on the move when facing these opponents and your health won’t diminish to the point of shutdown.
It is easy to get immersed in the run and gun aspects of “F.E.A.R. 3,” but keep in mind that it is also supposed to be a horror game. Remember, Mom is a psychic time bomb allegedly waiting to erupt when she gives birth to … whatever.
To be sure, there are some very good horror moments in the game. The apparitions that briefly appear, scare, and disappear are disconcerting. And having a ghost brother along during solo mode is a constant reminder.
Legendary film director John Carpenter was tapped to help create cinematics that heighten the fear factor. Comic book horror writer Steve Niles co-wrote the storyline featuring the psychotic elements.
When they occur, the terror elements are jump-out-of-your-seat frightening. It is almost like watching a horror movie from the eyes of the lead actor.
The problem is those moments don’t seem to occur as often as you’d think or hope. There were plenty of times in the game where I forgot it was supposed to be a thriller and not just a shooter.
Sure, Alma as a little ghost girl appears and disappears in skin crawling fashion, but her appearances become less and less as the game progresses. Some levels features are so soldier combat heavy that there aren’t any paranormal experiences that can be remembered.
Even combating creatures I called devil dogs was less about the fright and more about tactics.
Early in the game, I was peeking around every corner, expecting to find some apparition or twisted scene only to shrug and move on. By the end of the game, I stopped looking for them and just treated everything as a combat scene.
The point system is pretty good to see how well you did on each level and it does impact what happens at the end of the game. I know the “good” and “bad” endings and both will leave you scratching your head about what just happened.
Four player multiplayer modes help the game’s replayability with team work scenarios as well as cutthroat opportunities. You can cooperate to survive waves of enemies coming from an advancing fog, or be possessed by Alma and try to take over your former teammates.
Losing the raw terror doesn’t take too much away from the game play. “F.E.A.R 3” is still an incredible first person shooter that will challenge players with intelligent enemies and powerful boss battles.
The combat tactics will challenge you and the environments will force you to think about your best way to advance. Sadly, the frights aren’t quite as jarring as they could have been.
Which, I’m sure, makes the ghosts very sad. Boo.
“F.E.A.R. 3” is playable on the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. It is available now in North America and the UK, and will be available in Australia on June 29. It is rated M for mature due to blood and gore, intense violence, partial nudity, and strong language. This review was done playing the Xbox 360 version.
If you have never gotten involved in the “World of Warcraft” craze, Blizzard just made it easier for you to come to Azeroth.
The trial program, which was previously limited to 10- or 14-day time restrictions, is now open for players to explore as long as they like until they reach the character level of 20. Players who had previously used the time limit trials will be able to jump back in where they left off.
The new program, called “World of Warcraft Starter Edition,” requires a Battle.net account and an internet connection.
In addition, players will be able to get the original “World of Warcraft” and the game’s first expansion set, “The Burning Crusade,” as part of a new digital Battle Chest available in the online Blizzard store. Anyone who already owes the original game will automatically be able to access all of the content and features from “The Burning Crusade” for free.
If you have been keeping up with your character and are working your way through “Cataclysm,” fear not. Blizzard has not forgotten about you.
The second content update, “Rage of the Firelands,” is now live. With a new raid, a legendary DPS staff quest line, the most diverse daily questing experience to date, PvP Season 10, user-interface enhancements such as the Dungeon Journal, and much more, “Rage of the Firelands” brings a little something for everyone.
When fighting big bugs, you are going to need big guns.
In the latest video from the new “Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon,” the destructive power of the bug splattering weapons take out the insects, but also carve through buildings like butter. But when you are saving the world, buildings are a small price to pay.
Thousands of insects and aliens descend upon Earth yet again, and only the Earth Defense Force can stop the carnage. Players can create a squad of up to three in co-op play using any four upgradeable armor types and destroy these monsters at all costs, even if it means destroying everything within sight.
The game is due to be released July 5 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is rated T for teens due to animated blood, mild language, mild suggestive themes, and violence.
“Sid Meier’s Civilization World” (2K Games) is a persistent game that allows players to play whenever they like and work towards both individual and team goals with each visit. The game, which can only be played on Facebook, has a beginning and an end, so each game will end with a winning player and a winning civilization.
“We really weren’t looking to make a quote-unquote ‘Facebook game’,” Meier said in an interview with CNN.com. “We were looking at what does Facebook bring us that is unique, that we can leverage and take advantage of with ‘Civilization’-style game play.”
“Civ World” is also a highly collaborative game where players join up with others from their social network on Facebook to form a nation and battle competing civilizations in your game to become rulers of the world. This collaboration brings players deeper into the game where they can strategize with other players to achieve a victory.
The game (Electronic Arts, Grasshopper Manufacture) is a collaboration between Goichi Suda, director of “No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle,” and Shinji Mikami, creator of the “Resident Evil” series. It plays out as a survival horror third-person shooter, and features a gritty, stylized art that tries to emphasize demented enemies and psychotic imagery.
The action starts in medias res as the hero, Garcia Hotspur, is in the process of dispatching a huge demon. Hotspur is portrayed as a no-nonsense demon hunter who discovers that all that demon slaying comes with a price – his girlfriend is kidnapped by the Lord of Demons and taken to his hellish realm.
Hotspur uses a minor demon, Johnson, to help him in combat. Johnson can transform himself into a torch, a pistol, an automatic rifle and a shotgun.
In addition to ammunition in the form of skulls, bones and teeth, Johnson also has a light shot that banishes the darkness in hell and can also be used to stun enemies. Each weapon has a more powerful form that can be found in the game and all guns can be upgraded with increased power, accuracy or ammo.
Minor demons are easily cut down and there are mini-bosses that can only be defeated by destroying a blood core located somewhere on their body. End bosses usually have more than one core that needs to be blasted and it is a long, frustrating process.
Many tough enemies will lose all their cores, only to regain them and the player is forced to start the process over again. Their movements are also so herky-jerky that you will likely use up a lot of your ammunition in attempting to defeat them.
I tried stunning them with light shots first, then opening fire with my weapons. However, they don’t stay stunned for long and the cores I am trying to blast are not very large. Frustrating.
Action takes place in a version of Hell that looks more like a medieval village than a plane of flame. The darkness comes alive here in some areas and actually damages Hotspur until he can find a light source to banish it.
It is also used as a puzzle solving mechanism as some locks are not revealed until the darkness descends. Players will need to ramp up their speed to get things done before taking too much hurt.
Oh, and demons get stronger in the darkness as well, using it like armor. Get rid of the darkness and hit the enemies with a light shot before finishing them off.
There are a couple of areas that change into 2-D platforming and Hotspur is forced to navigate through maze of trees, clouds and buildings. I’m not sure I understand why the developers used the 2-D levels and it was another element that detracted from the attempt at horror.
Paula, as a character, is a one-trick pony. She is the constant damsel in distress after getting kidnapped by Fleming, the Lord of the Demons.
The voice actor probably needed a lot of throat lozenges because Paula is constantly screaming. It doesn’t help that her character is also dying quite a bit in the game.
The comedy arrives early and often whenever Johnson gets involved in the action. His puns and jokes are chuckle worthy, while Hotspur tries to be so macho that he takes it to ridiculous. The dialog is definitely R rated and NSFW, but laughably funny and actually works against the attempts to make the game horrific.
There are, what I would call, demon storybooks that do nothing other than give the player a break from the action. Johnson usually narrates the book, making humorous or lecherous comments along the way, and adds zero to the story or combat.
I admit that the demons are gross, and they gush blood and lose limbs in a spray of red that is stomach turning. But after the first chapter, they seem to lose their terror factor and become less of a psychological influence.
I was taken aback by the musical score in “Shadows of the Damned” in a good way. Akira Yamaoka, the sound director of “Silent Hill,” put together some fantastic tunes that are sprinkled appropriately through the game. I really enjoyed just listening to the music and it didn’t distract from the action at all.
“Shadows of the Damned” is full of shooter combat, some puzzle solving, and boss battles that are likely to have you tossing your controller down in frustration. The enjoyment level diminishes a bit by the multiple attempts to try and kill the big enemy at the end of each chapter.
The scene is appropriately hellish and twisted, but the dialog and character interactions are funny and amusing, which takes away from the game’s attempt to project psychological terror. I enjoyed the comedy, however, is this what they were hoping for?
I won’t say I was disappointed by how the game turned out (I actually liked it), but I have to think that the development team containing key members of “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill” probably was hoping for a different effect.
If taken for what it is, “Shadows of the Damned” will have you laughing as you mow down waves of demons and flinching at all the gore. That’s probably just twisted enough.
“Shadows of the Damned” will be available June 21 in North America and June 24 in Europe on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is rated M for Mature due to blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, sexual themes, and strong language. This review was done with a retail copy playable on Xbox 360.
You’ve got all the “God of War” games for your PS3 and you feel pretty good about yourself. Your collection is complete.
Sony is bringing the two “God of War” titles from the PSP to the PS3, fully remastered and in 3-D. “God of War: Origins Collection” features “God of War: Chains of Olympus” and “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” as well as bonus content, unique trophies and the ability to play the series from the beginning to end on one console.
The collection supports DualShock controllers and a new Dolby 5.1 Surround mix to make the experience more intense.
During this year’s E3 convention, Sony released a trailer that showed off how awesome Kratos will be.
Stay locked in for more information as it comes out.
“The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” (Nintendo) is a delightful trip down memory lane that brings back memories of the original Nintendo 64 version with a new shine.
Nintendo remastered their 1998 classic for their handheld console, the Nintendo 3DS. Link, Navi and all the other characters now pop out of the screen with the new glasses-free 3D technology.
The original “Ocarina of Time” was praised as one of the best video games ever on Game Rankings and Metacritic, two websites that use gamer input to come up with their scores. With Nintendo’s move towards re-releasing their famous and classic titles in 3D, “Ocarina of Time” was pretty much a no brainer.
The land of Hyrule does seem crisper and brighter than I remember. The maps feel more expansive even though my mind knows they are the same as the 1998 version.
All the combat action is the same from the previous version. Controls are a bit different to account for the touch screen on the 3DS, and motion control lets Link look around easier than before.
The movements and button manipulation feels intuitive. I’m not sure if that’s because my memory is helping me or the on-screen hints keep pushing me forward.
The touch screen also acts as an inventory screen so you can easily see what in your pack and what items are assigned to which button. Nintendo made good use of the dual screens with the split of action on top and packing on bottom.
If you knew how to solve all the puzzles in the N64 version, you’ll breeze through them on the 3DS version. However, if this is all new to you, a new hint system will guide you through some of the tougher tests.
If there were parts you couldn’t stand in the original (I love you Navi, but if you shout ‘Hey, Listen!’ one more time…), those are included as well.
The music plays an integral part of the game and, using headphones on the 3DS, it sounds clear and majestic. The themes and musical sound effects are as timeless as anything associated with Mario.
After completing the main story, there is Master Quest – a second quest with revamped puzzled and redesigned dungeons to challenge players.
In reality, it is everything I remembered and more from playing the original “Ocarina of Time.”
Ultimately, the major difference between the two versions is the glasses-free 3D ability of the 3DS. Sadly, I ended up playing most of the game with that ability turned off.
The 3D ability is nice and looks great (for as long as I can stand it). But it doesn’t really add much to a game that stands on the pinnacle in video game history.
Nintendo took their time and really made this game beautiful, even in 2D. The gameplay is great and the new control system using the touch pad and motion controls offer a more natural feel to the game.
Add in the portability of the 3DS and Hyrule can be whenever and wherever you want it.
This would be a great game for any gamer of any age.
If you remember playing the original, you’ll love the journey back in time and marvel at how well the game has aged. If you have a new gamer close by, this is an awesome way to show them a classic game that has new controls to make it easy for them to enjoy.
“The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” is an exclusive title for the Nintendo 3DS handheld console. It is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) due to animated blood, fantasy violence and suggestive themes. It will be available in Japan on June 16, Europe on June 17, North America on June 19, and Australia on June 30.
Gaming fans of Batman have been clamoring for it and now it will happen for some gamers.
Robin will be available as a playable character in the new “Batman: Arkham City” title. The Robin known as Tim Drake is only going to be playable if you pre-order the game from Best Buy though.
The Robin Pack can be used on any version of the game: Xbox 360, PC, or PlayStation 3.
Robin will have his own unique moves and gadgets and be playable in all the challenge maps in the main game. There are two additional challenge maps that will be included with the pack.
This makes two characters other than the Dark Knight who can be playable. Catwoman was announced recently as a playable character as well.
“Batman: Arkham City” is expected to be released on October on the three platforms.
“Mass Effect 3” (Electronic Arts, BioWare) is being touted as the final chapter in the battle for the galaxy between the Reapers and Commander Shepard.
Gameplay from the previous two games in the series will be drawn into the storyline as Shepard attempts to prevent Earth from becoming a wasteland. Decisions made during those two games will also impact what could or could not happen in the continuity.
Many previous characters will return, but some will not be available if they were killed during “Mass Effect” or “Mass Effect 2.” Combat has reportedly been tweaked to provide more options for players.
A recently released trailer showed off some new abilities for Shepard as well as some really big enemies. As our hero himself said, “We fight or we die.”
“Mass Effect 3” is now expected to be released March 6, 2010.
We know “Bioshock Infinite,” the latest in the Bioshock series from Irrational Games and 2KGames, is going to take place up in the sky.
We also know that there is going to be some awesome combat in and around Columbia, the floating city.
Now we know why Columbia was created and how it fell into conflict.
Irrational Games creative director Ken Levine talks about the two factions who are battling over control of the floating city. He explains the philosophy for each side and what drives them against the other.
The latest video trailer also shows some of the hysteria that is tearing apart Columbia.
“Bioshock Infinite” will be coming out in early 2012 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.