Fear not, F.E.A.R. 3 lives up to billing

The F.E.A.R. franchise has seen its ups and downs. The series blends many of the best elements of military-themed shooters and horror titles, though the sequel was less successful than the original in delivering a well-rounded experience.

F.E.A.R. 3

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Genre: Shooter

ESRB Rating: M, for Mature

Grade: 3.5 stars (out of five)

The F.E.A.R. franchise has seen its ups and downs. The series blends many of the best elements of military-themed shooters and horror titles, though the sequel was less successful than the original in delivering a well-rounded experience.

The story concludes with this third release. It lacks the don’t-turn-off-the-lights-in-your-room level of jumps and scares that were pervasive in the previous two games, but it still closes out with a bang.

Fresh off of shooting your brother in the head (hey, he was a demonic psychopath, so it had to be done), you once again play as Point Man, a genetically enhanced super-soldier out to rid the town of supernatural chaos.

The game play mirrors that of the previous two games, so veterans and even first-timers should have no problem diving right in. But the fun really begins after a first play-through.

You can play co-operatively with a friend as Point Man and his newly deceased brother, Paxton. Paxton can’t shoot guns, but being a psychotic specter gives him all sorts of interesting powers, such as levitating enemy soldiers and exploding their bodies, or possessing their bodies for surprise attacks.

The teamwork aspect adds fun and strategy, which helps make up for the lack of real scares.

F.E.A.R. 3 is not the scariest in the series by any measure, but the depth of content and strong replay ability make it a solid way to close out the franchise.

Captain America: Super Soldier

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Genre: Action

ESRB Rating: T, for Teen

Grade: 2.5 stars

Not long after seeing Captain America: First Avenger in the theatre, I sat down to see how quickly the video-game tie-in would sap away all of the silver-screen enjoyment. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Super Soldier is not an all-out catastrophe like its peers.

This is because the game borrows its game play liberally from the critically beloved Batman: Arkham Asylum. Hey, if you’re gonna mimic, at least mimic the best, right?

The fluidity with which Captain America moves around a room filled with Hydra soldiers parrying attacks and counterpunching the goons is smooth and enjoyable to execute. That Cap has a wickedly strong shield to hurl around and string into combos is an excellent use of the character as well.

Most of the game is a cycle of the same actions. Enter a room or area, beat up a few baddies and move on. The occasional boss fight is underwhelming, and lacks tension. Scripted platforming elements break up the fight sequences, but they are little more than an exercise in button-pressing. You upgrade Captain America’s abilities by finding golden eggs hidden throughout the maps, which sounds like something stolen from a Pokemon game; it’s a nice way to slow down the action, but feels completely out of place in a game set in the Second World War.

This tie-in game got the combat right, and that feels like a massive win in itself, putting it miles beyond the typical run-of-the-mill cash grabs these games tend to be.

Gamers wanting to experience some shield-smashing and good old American can-do-ism would be wise to make a weekend rental of this game.

Follow Chris Campbell at twitter.com/campbler or email him at game_on_games@mac.com.

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