The original First Encounter Assault Recon game (aka F.E.A.R.) was hailed as one of the better shooters on PC and consoles because of its highly adaptive AI and intuitive use of slow motion powers. However, the drab, repetitive environs kept the game from reaching its true potential.
|Title||F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC|
|Publisher(s)||Warner Bros. Games|
|Genre(s)||First-person shooter, survival horror
|Release||February 10, 2009|
|MATURE - Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.|
The first game in the series delivered on its name; the game was filled with shocking moments, a bizarre story about a little girl named Alma with special psychic powers who would pop up everywhere and generally scare the living crap out of you. It worked really well in the first game; Alma’s unpredictable appearances, trademark music, and graphical effects created a certain immersive atmosphere that gave horror junkies their fix and scared the pants off of everyone else.
However, the formula doesn’t change much in F.E.A.R. 2. Alma’s random appearances really carry no weight for those who’ve played the first game. The first time she jumps on you and tries to claw at your face probably frightens you, but all it takes is a few presses of the B button to shake her off. She does that various times throughout the campaign, but it’s only scary the first time. Enemies jump out at you, but by the halfway point of the roughly 8-hour campaign, you can sense it coming.
Instead, F.E.A.R. 2 focuses on shooting gameplay and environmental diversity and story. However, though the story is fleshed out more and takes place in a variety of locations including an elementary school and a gorgeous penthouse, the ending is poor. It’s a very anticlimactic moment that involves some Richard III-esque killing.
FEAR was a solid shooter: the AI was intuitive, the guns were cool, and the addition of a slow-motion reflex made the shooting segments very enjoyable. F.E.A.R. 2 doesn’t change much in the way of gameplay; you can run and gun, but there’s an emphasis on because the enemies are smart, they can take a good deal of punishment, and you can only regenerate a certain amount of health. Instead, you have to collect armor and medkits to guard against and recover from damage.
It’s rather annoying to hunt for medkits in a next-gen game, but it never takes away from the game in the big picture. There’s also the ability to flip certain objects over to create impromptu cover, but it doesn’t play a big part in the game seeing as how the enemies are never in positions where you can easily kill them from your new cover.
F.E.A.R. 2’s guns are the biggest difference from the first outing. They ditch almost everything and replace the entire arsenal with true next-gen weapons. Borrowing heavily from the modern weaponry of Call of Duty 4, there are the equivalents of an M4 Carbine, P90 submachinegun, a type of sniper rifle, and an M1014 shotgun. There’s also an assortment of original weapons, including very enjoyable Napalm Cannon that roasts enemies to a crisp…frozen orange juice and gasoline, anyone?
Slow motion returns in F.E.A.R., but it’s mapped to a different button this time and doesn’t play a major role in the game. It was fun in FEAR to turn on slow motion and watch the enemies ragdoll away as you pummel them with a shotgun, but not so in F.E.A.R.. Enemies don’t die from one shotgun shell anymore, and they don’t seem to fly as far as they used to. There’s a sense of detachment in the combat. The only enemies that get up close are ninjas who are more annoying than fun to fight; they rush you and practically blind you so you can’t see them gib. Where’s the fun in that?
The multiplayer option was decent in F.E.A.R., but it gets a big makeover in F.E.A.R. 2. While it lacks a party system, it has a lot of modes, including one where a team is pitted against a super-strong mech suit called Armored Front. Multiplayer as a whole feels like a game of MLG in Halo 3: longer spawn times, enemies can take quite a bit of punishment, and one of the most powerful weapons is a burst-firing rifle.
F.E.A.R. provides some good fun for fans of horror and shooters, but can’t deliver on the story side like Halo 3 or in multiplayer like Gears of War or Call of Duty. It’s worth a rental and the high action story is worth the short time you’ll devote to it, but its activity will die out just as it did with the original. The locations and gameplay are mostly improvements, but it’s still not quite a keeper.