F.E.A.R. 3 is Really About Family... A Psychic, Psychotic FamilyS

Psychotic ghost or fratricidal lunatic: Those are your character options in Warner Brother's upcoming thriller, shooter F.E.A.R. 3.

F.E.A.R. 3 is all about dependency, family and the supernatural, as Frank Rooke, director of design at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, tells it.

"For those of you who have seen or played a F.E.A.R. game you'll know that it's filled with conspiracies, it has memorable characters, it has its share of awkward maybe or disturbing moments," Rooke said. "But really it's about, at its heart, a family, a dysfunctional family, a very psychically gifted family, made up of these two brothers (Paxton Fettel and Point Man) as well as their paranormal powerhouse of a mother, Alma."

The game kicks off nine months after the end of F.E.A.R. 2, Alma is about to give birth to something terrifyingly horrible, Rooke said. Point Man's younger brother Paxton Fettel, who Point Man killed by shooting in his head, has come back as a ghost that is psychically linked to Point Man.

The game will still have Armacham, which is trying to clean up the mess that happened from the devastating blast that was seen first F.E.A.R. game. It will also include members of the F.E.A.R. squad who are trying to finish out their original orders in destroying Alma and essentially destroying what's left of Point Man's family.

"So Point Man, interestingly enough, is in the middle of this," Rooke said. "He has to make a tough decision. And that is his alliance. Does he go for duty, behind the squad. Or is he behind his family, to simply go for power."

This rather complex story wasn't hammered out by the folks at WB alone, Rooke says, they had help from Steve Niles, author of 30 Days of Night, and John Carpenter, master of horror flicks.

"He helped us envision our direction and our cinematics," Rooke said.

While the story holds its own fascination, what will make you want to play F.E.A.R. 3 is how the games coop works. When playing with another person, one of you will control Point Man and the other will control Fettel's ghost.

"Point Man is that classic first person shooter character, you're gonna see use of big weapons and later on we'll introduce some of the ways we've enhanced his combat abilities," Rooke said. "He has that super soldier kind of presence about him, he has that classic or hallmark first person F.E.A.R. one ability of slow-mo. That is really his hallmark ability. But one thing that we've added is his use of active cover and I feel, we feel it brings out a new dimension of close quarter combat that really made the first two F.E.A.R. games special."

Fettel, on the other hand, is a completely different sort of character.

He has a stun blast, which can temporarily stun enemies. He can also suspend enemies in the air, making it easier for Point Man to take them down. But Fettel's coolest trick by far is his ability to possess any enemies on the screen.

When Fettel takes controls of an enemy he gains all of it's strengths and weaknesses. And Fettel can end his possession with a bang, literally, causing the host body to explode in a cloud of red mist.

Being able to play as either brother through the game opens up a lot of possibilities and is certainly a much more interesting take on cooperative single-player campaigns than I'm used to.

While I watched some of the gameplay, the developers did a lot of neat things. Like taking two completely separate routes to get to the same location, allowing them to take on a horde of enemies from opposite sides of the battleground.

I also loved how Fettel could possess someone and then use them to clamber into a mech suit and march it through enemies.

I wonder how big an issue it will be that people who want to play together are going to have to decide who gets which character, but no one else seemed concerned among the gathered writers.

I guess we'll find out when the game hits this fall on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Thanks to intern Lauren for the transcription.