Like Scre4m, Thi4f and Driv3r, FEAR 3 (or F.3.A.R., if we’re using the official title) is part of a growing trend of using numbers instead of letters to neatly indicate that you’re producing a sequel to the original game.

Well, we say neatly, but it looks daft. And how do you pronounce it, anyway? Luckily the game gets past that stumbling block early on and presses ahead with some exciting gameplay – let’s have a look.

This is Pointman, presumably named on account of his permanent erection (not pictured)

You probably remember the first F.E.A.R. game (F.E.A.R., by the way, stands for First Encounter Assault Recon, and is the name of a military unit that’s sent in to deal with supernatural threats) which featured a mute chap wandering around a series of industrial levels and occasionally avoiding a little girl in a red dress who made things go all weird. It was fairly standard stuff.

And up until now, that’s all the FEAR series has been – fairly standard, well-made shooters that rattle along with no particular complaints and occasionally try to throw horror elements in to spice things up. Problem is, when you’re a super-powered action hero protagonist (who can slow down time, as well, in a sort of “tacked-on-at-the-last-minute” sort of way) then things stop being scary pretty fast as you can just shoot them in the head.

Oh, also, there are giant robots in the game. Ratatat boom etc

(An aside: If you want a genuinely scary game, go out and pick up the first Condemned from your friendly local games store. Not the second one, the first one. It’s only going to set you back a fiver and in it you must brutally murder frothing madmen with improvised weapons in a series of increasingly dilapidated locales. It’s viscerally upsetting and horrific in a way that hoo-rah military heroics will never be)

Day One Studios, the development team behind FEAR 3, seemed to cotton on to this pretty well, so this latest instalment is a departure from the norm. The big selling point is a fancy-pants co-operative mode in which both players have entirely different play styles that complement each other.

Pointman – the chap from the first FEAR game – is one of the playable characters, and is your standard all-American military blaster with an arsenal of weaponry, lightning-fast reactions (translated into bullet-time, of course) and a full cover system. The other character is his dead brother, Paxton Fettel.

Winner of the Annual Stupidest Name Contest 2007 and 2008

You read that right – he’s dead. He’s a ghost, though, because it might get a bit boring if player two only got to control a corpse. He can’t use normal weapons, but he can use telekinesis and possession, so if you like the look of an enemy’s gun you can take over his mind and start using it against his allies. 

They work together well as they abilities complement each other, and it’s a style of play seen more commonly in RPGs than First-Person Shooters – covering weaknesses and exploiting strengths, rather than simply covering each other as you run in.

Keep an eye on as later on in the week we’ll be unveiling details of the fast-paced and frenetic multiplayer modes, where things have gotten really interesting. You don’t want to miss out.