Hana and her sister.
Hong Kong, 2028 years after the death of Christ. A deadly disease pioneered by
an evil corporation is wiping out humanity. The disease attacks at an extremely
fundamental level, killing everything remotely human, even Hillary Clinton. What
can be done to save humanity? Who can rescue this trite plot!?
“Lesbians!” someone must have screamed on a hot day at Eidos headquarters. “We’ll make them lesbians! Then we can have twice as many boobs and skimpy outfits… and we can make them, well, never mind, but we’ll sell millions of copies!!”
Yes, scantily clad lesbians to the rescue, complete with coy sexual innuendos
and horrible robo-insect rape scenes. Tantalized? Of course you are. But as
opposed to provocatively luring gamers to disappointment with risqué advertising
and a lousy ass game a la Danger Girl, Fear
Effect 2 delivers everything it promises, times two.
Retro Helix is a preqeul to the original Fear Effect.
Throughout the game you take control of Hana (the man in the relationship),
Rain (the lipstick lesbian) and their two bozo partners Deke and Glas. As you
play along, the characters talk amongst themselves, revealing plots and missions
and basically fleshing out their own personalities.
Unfortunately, the dialogue leaves a little to be desired. For such an over-the-top
game, you’d think the talking would be full of witty, immature innuendos. Instead,
you get an almost serious take on outrageous circumstances.
For example, at one point Rain gets pretty much raped by a mecha-cricket-octopus
thing. She moans and gyrates throughout a short loop, and the whole effect is
extremely disturbing, and not a little hypnotic. While it’s certainly a cool,
weird scene, it throws any pretexts pertaining to maturity and charm right out
the window and off a cliff.
The robo-rape is just one drop in a bucket full of man-eating rats, gallons
of blood, and horrible head wounds. This game is chock full of shock and other
colorful little tidbits that enhance the story and keep the game feeling fresh
(and yucky) all the way through.
While considerably more graphic, FE2‘s graphics are pretty much
identical to those in the original, which is a very good thing. There’s still
heavy bloodshed every time you take out an enemy and the levels still look fantastic.
Though your player still gets pixilated the further (s)he gets from the screen,
this is barely an issue. FE2 could well be the last great looking PSX
Most of the levels involve a hub with three or four doors, all of which lead
to several other doors, behind which lurk puzzles to get keys so you can go
to the next hub and unlock all of its doors. This leads to all sorts of running
back and forth between rooms you’ve already been in. Exasperating.
However, FE2 is full of clues that fill you in on what you ought to
be doing, so you usually know where you need to go and why you’re going there,
making the repetition of the same rooms less noticeable.
These clues are also meant to help you along with the puzzles. Almost every bizarre looking puzzle (some of them are totally inscrutable if you don’t know what to look for) has a clue for it somewhere in the level. However, the helpfulness of these clues is extremely variable, and sometimes the hints are undetectably subtle.
And for every puzzle that requires a few clues, there are a bunch that don’t
and instead require a lot of time and trial and error. These range from really
hard to really stupid, and almost all of them are boring. This hurts, because
the puzzles make up a major part of the game, and for a game as wild as FE2,
they seem way out of place. Many of them have nothing to do with the plot and
can’t be justified at all. Fortunately there are enough FAQ pages out there
to make the puzzles a non-issue. Still, inane logic puzzles in an action game
is a design choice that should have been avoided.
The other half of the game is the combat, and in this arena FE2 doesn’t
quite live up to the difficulty in the original FE. A lot of combat involves
what the pundits call “Just shooting stuff.” You walk into a room and shoot
stuff until it explodes or dies. There’s very little challenge in most of the
This seems to be a result of the control scheme. The major action maneuver
in the original was the roll. It still is. In the first game, you had to get
the roll down or you’d be mincemeat in no time. However, the roll wasn’t very
much fun, and once you got it down you could basically roll through all the
action in the game.
However, as opposed to changing or improving the control scheme, the designers just made rolling unnecessary, so now you can shoot guys to death from a crouching position all the time. The result is that most of the action is very, very easy. While it’s still satisfying due to the good graphics and sound, nothing ever puts up much of a fight, because if it did, it’d probably kick your ass.
I also have to mention the silent kills. For those who aren’t hip, silent
kills involve stabbing or kicking an enemy who isn’t looking at you, resulting
in his or her immediate demise. Here would seem to be the opportunity for some
really violent, execution style goodness, but alas, there is no spice for this
Fortunately, when you execute a silent kill, it sounds great…just like everything else in the game. Sometimes you get a gurgling “GhAAaa..,” and you always get to enjoy the sound of a blade rending flesh or a boot breaking a back. There really isn’t much music, but there are some cool atmospheric noises and the voice acting is some of the best I’ve ever heard.
The problem with FE2 is that the action elements and the puzzle elements
of the game are almost entirely segregated. The game should have employed more
tactical action and ensured that the puzzles they did throw in made some sense
within the context of the story.
Having said that, Fear Effect 2 is still a kick with its sharp visual
style, crisp sounds, and thousands of tasty, violent, obscene morsels which
are sure to stimulate your psychic sweet tooth. A strong game to be sure, but
not the sequel it could have been.