Ghastly shoot ’em up.
Well, the wait is over, and it’s time to dust off your scaredy pants. Alma’s back, and boy, is she pissed. Apparently torturing a little girl with psychic powers is a no-no. I thought little girls liked attention.
[image1]FEAR 2 (or Eff-Eee-Aye-Are 2): Project Origin starts about 20 minutes before the end of the first game, so if you didn’t play the first FEAR, or any of its subsequent expansions, you won’t have a clue as to what’s going on, so here’s the short version: Armacham is an evil corporation (or maybe it isn’t) that’s trying to make super-telepath soldiers (or maybe they’re not), and you are sent in to fix things (or maybe you were sent in to trigger the end of days). The story’s not great in the first game, and FEAR 2 is more of the same, only this time you’re dropped into the thick of it from the word "go".
The FEAR franchise combines bullet-time action and pants-wetting horror, which sounds nigh impossible but is done surprisingly well. The combat is top-notch, with interactive environments that you can knock over for cover and A.I. that really earns the “I.”
But while we’re on the topic of names, “FEAR” doesn’t quite fit like a blood-soaked glove. The usual horror elements are all present: flickering lights, mutants popping up to bite your face off; and let’s not forget Alma, who takes her cues from Japanese horror films and appears in the form of a soggy, naked dead chick. I know what you’re thinking, and I whole-heartedly agree, that does sound pretty hot; but believe me when I tell you, you might actually shit yourself when you turn a corner and see her standing there, just waiting to pull your soul out through your ring-piece.
I’ll admit I was skeptical at the thought of being scared of a young girl when you’re packing more heat than The Punisher, but there were parts that actually made me shriek. The only real problem with the horror aspects of FEAR 2 is that they’re more startling than genuinely scary. There’s no use of stillness, and whenever the game switches from balls-to-the-wall mind-fuckery to bullet-time shooting parts, the transition is so jarring that there may as well be a musical interlude.
[image2]Part of what makes the horror genre so great is that feeling of dread that comes from knowing that there’s something out there that hates you and wants you dead, but not knowing when or where or how you’ll encounter it. In FEAR you’ll go from shooting humans that look suspiciously like the Combine from Half-Life 2 in one area to shooting mutants and ghosts in the next. Yes, for some reason, you can shoot ghosts. That which is already dead can be further deadened.
FEAR 2 feels like it was made for an audience that likes the survivor-horror genre but is too scared to get really involved with any of the really great games. FEAR 2 actually takes the “survival” from the term “survival/horror” and replaced it with ammo, armor, and med kits. Every time I was about to run out of something, I’d find a cache of whatever it was, along with an armor pick-up and some more grenades.
It’s as if the developers said, “Tired of running out of shotgun shells in Resident Evil 4? Here, have a bazooka!”; “Silent Hill 2 was too scary? Have a giant robot that can never die.”; “Are the widdle ghosties scawy? Here, slow down time and shoot them.” When you have to make the decision between replacing the flamethrower with a rocket launcher, any chance at real terror gets shot like so much skeet. And really, shooting ghosts? Oops, i already mentioned that. But the game’s repetitive shooty bits and blood-stained scary bits are all completely overshadowed by the part where you get to pilot a giant robot that can’t be killed, thrown in as a reward for all the fraidy cats that were still scared, despite their over-compensatory amount of guns.
Despite its shortcomings, FEAR 2 is still a good game, just not a very scary game. It startles and it flickers its lights at you, but it never seems to go anywhere. You start off at the end of the first game, then you’re in a hospital, where it’s only kind of scary; and for the rest of the game, you bounce back and forth from tactical shooting from cover to flicker-lighted spookiness like a gory ping-pong ball.
[image3]The tactical shooting parts are great, if nothing else. Your enemies are crafty but the over abundance of ammo and better guns makes it all a bit too easy. The graphics are fantastic, as well, and are some of the best I’ve seen since Bioshock. They truly live up to our unreasonable next-gen standards and warrant a rental at least, but gorgeous graphics do not a great game make.
Oh, and there’s multi-player, but what doesn’t have that? Why do companies keep adding crappy, cookie-cutter multi-player? Every time I logged into this uninspired jaunt into mediocrity, I was dropped from the server before I could even play. I tried it at a friend’s house just to be certain, and sure enough, the same thing happened.
All in all, if you played the first few FEAR games and you want to know what happens next to the faceless, characterless, protagonist then you could do a lot worse than FEAR 2: Project Origin. I really can’t recommend this to players that are new to either the series or the genre. The lack of reiteration of the first game’s story is rather perplexing. Why wouldn’t you want new players? What is the dev team afraid of?