If you flip over the box for F.E.A.R. 3, you'll find this brief paragraph describing the third entry in this popular horror shooter franchise:
"Alma is expecting and a new level of terror grows as you and your cannibal brother battle through a hellish nightmare. Fight together or die alone on a deadly mission to confront your twisted mother."
If the phrases "cannibal brother" and "hellish nightmare" aren't enough to warn you off, I suppose you should keep reading.
F.E.A.R. 3 strives mightily to tie together the many loose narrative threads left dangling bloodily by the first two installments of this convoluted tale of psychic horror.
Once again the story centers on stopping the dark progeny of the Armacham Technology Corporation's paranormal experiments. Chief among them: the malevolent psychic Alma Wade. When last we saw her in F.E.A.R. 2, she had just raped that game's protagonist, Sgt. Michael Becket (himself a psychically enhanced product of ATC), successfully impregnating herself with his child. Fast-forward nine months, and Alma is wreaking immense psychic havoc on the city of Fairport.
And as bad as Alma is, who knows how nasty her child might be.
Who can stop her? Perhaps the brothers from the first entry in the F.E.A.R. franchise, Point Man and Paxton Fettel—two more characters with paranormal powers. Never mind that Point Man put a bullet in Paxton's head at the end of the first game. Both of them are back anyway. And between Point Man's ability to slow time and Paxton's ability to possess victims (since he's dead he operates as a kind of spiritual/corporeal hybrid), well, they might have a fighting chance of taking down the woman who turns out to be … their mother.
Cue the Convulsions
Gameplay itself is nowhere near as soapy as all that. In fact, it's relatively straightforward. And by straightforward I mean it's chockfull of more of the same gruesome imagery and foul content players had to wade through in the first two installments. And by more of the same I mean that onscreen carnage is constant.
Even when Point Man and Paxton aren't actually shooting or stabbing various antagonistic ATC agents, blood, bodies and body parts litter the screen. One level finds the pair roaming through a so-called "Deli Meat" section of a store that features many unfortunate humans hanging from meat hooks. Cutscenes feature similarly visceral violence. An early one, for instance, features Paxton possessing one soldier and slicing another's throat—followed by a close-up of the resulting fountain of blood in slow motion.
Alma's briefly seen naked (as a corpse), and she's sexualized as a young woman, too. A steady stream of f-bombs (as well as vulgar concussion grenades of other varieties and frequent misuses of God's and Jesus' names) match the M-rated intensity of F.E.A.R. 3's grisly goings-on. One multiplayer mode has even been dubbed "F‑‑‑ing Run" by the game's creators.
And, as has been the case from the franchise's inception, a dark-but-vague supernatural haze clings to the proceedings like a radioactive fog. Alma, her two sons and (we find out) her father all possess supernatural abilities. Her third child promises to be a doozy in this department, too.
Players learn about some unfortunate citizens of Fairplay dubbed Cultists who've fallen under Alma's spiritual influence. They now more or less worship her, and their "offerings" consist of using their own blood to scrawl images and cryptic writings on the walls of their homes—not to mention carving a large A into their own skin as a sign of their spiritual allegiance to her.
The Monsters' Maker
It's Alma's demented father, by the way, who is behind the torturous experiments on his own daughter and two grandsons at ATC. At one point, he says, "It is the way of men to make monsters. And it is the nature of monsters to destroy their makers."
With regard to F.E.A.R 3, I might twist that logic as my concluding thought: "It is the way of men bent upon making monstrous games to make each new one more monstrous than the last."