F.E.A.R. 3

Scares of war.

Few things are duller than yet another first-person shooter which expects you to spend the same hard-earned cash to play the same multiplayer modes, with the same weapons, in the same kinds of settings.

F.E.A.R. 3 developer Day 1 Studios is hoping to avoid that trap with a brand new mode. It's simply titled F***ing Run.

A hands-on playtest reveals that, as you might expect, the main objective is to f***ing run. Now. Fast. Chasing you and your partners down is a giant "Wall of Death", and along the way you'll meet enemies who try to slow your progress. Glance behind you and you'll see a wall of debris and dust forming clouds which resemble skulls and other evil manifestations. Better to keep looking forwards and just f***ing run.

The mode is co-operative and designed for four players. If one player dies the others can revive them, but the wall is always catching up. And if one of you gets taken down, it's game over for everybody else.

Playing through the demo level twice, my squad managed to make it through just one section of the level before the wall closed in on the stragglers. We later found out there are eight stages to this level, and felt humbled.

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It's all about managing the time you spend killing enemies. Get too caught up and you'll soon be dead.

New challenges appear at every turn. Some enemies might be easy targets but others will sandwich themselves into one-way alleys, deflecting your shots with giant riot shields. Combatting them is no easy task and will routinely slow you down.

It's elements such as this which should provide an opportunity for veterans of the game to take point and become leaders. But at the same time, the focus remains on co-operative gameplay. You must work together or you'll all die.

The fact is, though, multiplayer modes which require the seemingly mindless online masses to use teamwork almost always fail. This is particularly true when it comes to games which don't follow the old Deathmatch or Capture the Flag templates. Just look at the awesome but awesomely unpopular bank robbery mode in Kane & Lynch.

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