The Challenge Level 1: #51 F.3.A.R.

The Challenge is a weekly post where I, FilmApe, have to play a random game from my Steam library and record my experience. Will it be an awesome week or will it suck? Most likely suck…
Day 1
Off to a terrible start. If I am going to play these games, I am at least going to do it with the comfort of a controller, but of course Windows has other ideas. A recent update must have made it so unverified drivers would not be downloaded (despite my turning off this setting long ago). So once I figured out that was the problem, I fixed it quick, and got down to gaming.
Video_gamer

Time for the gaming…

F.3.A.R. throws you right into the fray, and picks up where (presumably) the last game ended. You are apparently one of two psychic brothers who are ultimate killers, and you killed your brother, but he is still alive psychically. You are in some prison, and your brother possesses a guard and helps you escape. The intro to the game is very focused on blood, and very loud and obnoxious, screaming I watched the movie Se7en. So, then you are trying to escape and you are killing guards in the process. There are spooky occurrences where you brother is talking and there are animal growls and shadowy figures climbing walls, but overall the first level is just standard arcade shooter type stuff. Since I’m playing on the easiest setting, I’m basically a war god, immune to bullets. This is fine with me, because I find the melee combat very satisfying. I think there might be something wrong with my controller though, as I was constantly changing weapons out of nowhere. This could also be a control scheme problem, as the game, like most older games, is set-up for keyboard and mouse, though it allows controller use (it was a controller issue). All the control prompts are for keyboard, so it takes some trial and error to figure out the corresponding buttons on my DS3. According to the end level stats the level should have taken me 15 minutes, but it took me 30 minutes. Most likely this extra time was spent stuck in a three level room trying to figure out how to escape. It turns out there was a switch I was missing (there’s always a switch). Overall my first impression is decent. I like the look of the game and the shooting and melee action is enjoyable. The sound design is grating though, and I ended up just pulling my headphones off and playing in silence. The brother’s voice is especially obnoxious, and it really is no surprise that your character shot him in the face.
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How’s your face feeling?

Logged on for a second session today, and I played through the second level. I am finding that about a half hour is all that I am willing to give the game in one sitting. I get a lot of enjoyment out of melee attacking, and some of the shotgun kills have been cool, but the continuous shooting is getting a little tedious. Also, I have no idea what is going on in the story, or who I am fighting. There was some blue electrical boss in this level, and he could spawn baddies to fight me, but I had no idea why this was possible. I just beat him to death once I got to him, and then he exploded. That is it for today. Wondering how it will be possible to keep this up for the entire week…
Day 2
Jumped in for another session, and I am on to level 3. We’ve crash landed into what appears to be a Costco-esque store, that is not Costco (Notco). Now, this level’s design I enjoyed a lot. You are walking through the aisles, on top of the shelves, through the frozen food section, and eventually a meat locker. As a fan of The Watch, this is like a dream come true. Blood soaked the walls beautifully, and I could almost imagine myself walking these aisles on a day when the store wasn’t destroyed, purchasing a four litre tub of miracle whip and enjoying some complimentary samples. Unfortunately though, F.3.A.R. had other plans, as new baddies are introduced for me to have to fight.
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I don’t got time for your samples, I’m killing baddies here….what’s that…canned chicken breast…okay, maybe just one.

In classic first person shooter tradition, a new threat has been introduced, in order to complicate the gameplay, and make the experience more challenging. Think The Covenant and then The Flood show up, that is basically what is happening. I am fighting dudes without faces, well some may have faces, who seem to be like zombies or something, and they can throw stuff, and have explosives strapped to them. This is all well and good, and does force me to change my go for broke, straight up war god approach to the game, but it also kind of annoys me. Whenever I played any Halo games, once The Flood show up, I’m pretty much ready to stop playing. I don’t know why this next level baddie thing is a thing, but it is annoying. I much prefer interesting environments, and puzzles, to simply a harder to fight, never ending hoard of bad guys. It just isn’t that interesting to me, and while it has happened pretty quick in F.3.A.R, I can see myself getting tired of it once I get into the next level. Also, I cranked the sound down a lot on this session, as I just couldn’t stand the random spooky sound effects, cause they are super obnoxious. See the random scream that happens in the garden centre as an example. WE’RE NOT IN A MOTEL ROOM TOGETHER…YOU KNOW…F.3.A.R.
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It’s spooky…

Day 3
From the Costco type location to the suburbs, F.3.A.R. is apparently a family simulator, showcasing the true horrors of maturity. I officially have no idea what is going on in this game. I think that I am looking for some little girl with supernatural powers, and she is somehow tied to me, or something. Some creature keeps appearing in front of me, and causing a vision of the woods where there is a merry-go-round spinning. It is all very ominous, and I hope that before the end of this week I figure out what is going on. I would say that I am kind of enjoying the game, in a mindless, meaningless, sort of way. About 30 minutes is all that I am willing to dedicate to a session though, and I am pulling off my headphones at about the 10 minute mark, because the sound design irks me. I find that there is a lot of looping creepy sounds, but I never figure out where these sounds are coming from. It is just spooky sounds for the sake of spooky sounds, and I am definitely not digging it. I am digging the look of the levels though, and the blood and candles everywhere. Even though it is an old shooter, it doesn’t really look that dated. The most dated thing about the game is just the extremely maze like path that you have to follow, and how despite the large the levels appear, you are just on this one single path through everything. This is such classic first person shooter level design that I don’t fault the game, I just think that it feels dated now in 2015.
Day 4
Yesterday I kind of was liking the game, but now I enter the grind. Just a constant stream of baddies coming at me as I blast them to kingdom come. I got to use a mech suit for a bit, which was fun cause the baddies bodies would explode when I shoot them, but that sequence ended much too quickly. Then I got into the grind again, and I got frustrated when I died in what appeared to be a boss-esque fight, and got sent back to the very beginning of that sequence. I definitely don’t have the legs to get my grind on, so as soon as things get tedious, I am out. This is why I play all games on the easiest setting possible. I understand that some people like the challenge and the problem solving, but for myself, playing video games has always been about just kicking back and relaxing. I would say that there are points in F.3.A.R. where I am just kicking back and enjoying the environments, but the actual gameplay has become tedious, two hours into the game. I have kind of gone back and forth on whether I like the game or not, but here on Day 4, I would say that I am not enjoying the game.
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There are literally…one other things that I could be doing right now.

Day 5
Finally got past the fourth level, and things are becoming a little more clear, regarding what is going on. It seems like the brothers’ mother is giving birth via a massive flaming sky vagina (now we know where The Avengers film got it from), and all the spooky stuff that is happening is her supernatural contractions. So now we are working with some lady, and trying to get there to witness the birth, I guess. One big thing that I am finding is that there is a serious lack of weapon variety in the game. You got the standard pistol, machine gun, battle rifle, and shotgun, and those are your main weapons that you get all the time. You occasionally get a sniper (which sucks), double sub-machine guns, and a rocket launcher, but these moments are short and so far have been rare. I want a Serious Sam arsenal when I play like this, and I am finding the weapons to be boring. Also, I find that there is a real inconsistency in how much damage the baddies can take. Sometimes a clean head shot sends them to A.I. Hell, but other times you got to double, triple, and quadruple tap them.

The big moment while playing today happened while the game was on pause. I was looking up how many levels (intervals) are in the game, and I discovered that John Carpenter, the original JC (of modern times), apparently had some input on the cinematics in the game. I haven’t found exactly how extensive his involvement was, but there is a video of JC hyping the game. Any JC fan worth his (or her) salt knows that the master of horror is a hardcore gamer, so I definitely am not surprised, though I am disappointed. The cinematics have been uninteresting, and the dialogue is pretty uninspired. I still love you JC, so please lift me up and carry me through the last few days of this game. Let me look back and see only one set of footprints as you carry me in your gamer arms.
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This guy can carry me anywhere he wants…

Day 6
Just when I said the weapons were boring, and limited, I end up encountering my two favourite weapons in the game. One is like a laser cannon that either lights baddies on fire or makes them explode, and the other is a riot shield. The riot shield in particular stands out to me, cause it makes me an absolute juggernaut when going full blown loco on the baddies, just running up to them and smashing them to death. I was able to take care of a serious baddie (basically a hunter equivalent) by just boxing him in with my shield and then beating him (off) until he exploded.
I also experienced my favourite moment of the game (so far). Getting near to the fiery hole, a big building starts falling down, crushing everything, and making the sounds design get all muted, with just consistent *bump-bump* of what one can assume is your character’s heart, being the primary audio. I liked this bit a lot, and it was a quick relief from the standard first person shooter stuff that I have had to deal with.
In the end I maybe put in another half hour today, but I felt that I didn’t really get anywhere. I am still on interval 5 I think, and this is most likely where I am going to end my experience with the game.
Final Thoughts
F3AR is a  game I feel like I am being hard on, but it just didn’t click for me. It is a perfectly fine first person shooter, if you are into that, but I am not. I found the experience to be tedious for the most part, but as first person shooters go, there isn’t a ton that I could say is bad, in comparison to other first person shooters. I think it is a real shame that you can’t jump between controlling each brother in game, and while being able to play the dead brother on replays of levels that you have already beaten adds some replay ability, that doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. For the most part, single 30 minute sessions were pushing my limits with the game, and I have no desire to see this one to the end.
How Much Time Did I Log
3 Hours
What I Liked
melee combat
look of the environments
What I didn’t like
Sound design
It’s a first person shooter
repetitive arsenal
fiery sky vagina
Arbitrary Rating 4/10
Next Week’s Number
*See that Enrico was just on Telegram one minute ago*
*Message him for new number*
*Get ignored*
*two hours later*
*Enrico emerges out of an opium den, and has no idea what I’m talking about*
*I explain The Challenge to him again*
*He chooses…43*
This week I will be playing the 43rd game in my Steam library, DLC QUEST. Tune in next time for some meta commentary on the meta game.
Why are you here? Why are we all here? Let’s get philosophical in the pit below. 

FilmApe

“Look into the eyes of a FilmApe and you will see real stupidity. It is a kind of bottomless stupidity, a fiendish stupidity. They are the most horrifying, cannibalistic and nightmarish creatures in the world.” - Werner Herzog

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4 responses

  1. HamFiddler says:

    Loving the beat (off). Why don’t we hang out so you can show me those moves…..

  2. enricofairme says:

    You beat a guy off with your shield? Haha. Good write up

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