Little girls with lank wet hair scare me, teenage girls with lank wet hair scare me. Both of these with freaky mind powers seriously shit me up. So watching Alma terrorize you and the world around you is very disturbing.
Unfortunately I never played the original FEAR, So, I caught up on the backstory via wikipedia.
FEAR 2 carries the story on from the original game and attempts to wrap up plot lines that were laid down. Even though I’d never played the first one, the story was easy enough to follow, but I would recommend hunting down the original in order to get the most out of this sequel. The story twists and turns throughout and keeps you guessing until the end. I won’t touch on story aspects here as I don’t want to spoil any of it for those about to play.
First off, If you don’t like blood, don’t play this game. It comes by the bucketload, literally in some sections. Monolith have managed to create a gory world of panic and suspense. A world that keeps you on edge from start to finish. There are plenty of sections that will creep you out and also some nice jumpy moments.
All of the parts with Alma are genuinely scary, whether she’s clawing at you wildly or staring at you with dead eyes from the end of a corridor. There are some great set pieces with Alma and her powers.
One in particular plays out as you are walking down a hallway in a school, Alma appears in front of you and all the lockers explode open. Water fountains tear from the walls and launch at you and lights swing from the ceiling. It all makes for a cinematic experience.
The gameplay is action packed and enjoyable. You play as Sergeant Beckitt who has hair trigger reflexes, this gives him the ability the move in slow motion with the press of a button. This ability helps in situations where you are surrounded and bullets are flying everywhere or if you need to enter a full room. Unfortunately the enemies aren’t particularly varied and looking at the same character models can grind after a while.
Although the enemies aren’t varied, the weapons are. They all pack quite a punch and are accurate enough. Strangely, the shotgun feels very underpowered unless used at point blank range.
There is a basic but usable cover mechanic which sees you knocking over tables and other objects to use as a temporary cover. This was only really suitable for your reload times as if you hid for too long you would soon be outflanked or would succumb to a grenade. Unfortunately there is no “latch on” button for the cover, so when you’ve found something to hide behind all you can really do is duck. I think had there been such a button as in many other games, the cover system would have worked a lot better.
The level design is great in it’s layout but suffers from the same faults as FEAR, most of the maps feel very similar in looks. There are a few stand out sections that are different from the usual mazes of corridors and they tend to be set in outdoor areas. Everything has to be explored in order to find the reflex boosters and the intel items which lead to achievements and or trophies.
The most important aspect to FEAR 2 is the tension, this is gained by using imagery and music to play with your mind. All of the gruesome or scary scenes are accompanied by suitably eerie music and sound effects and it is all to a high standard. Much like the graphics. Monolith know how to do blood and they know how to do light effects. Blood is almost black in it’s density and reflects the light when in pools. The shadows are solid and when the light plays off of the character models it adds a vast amount of realism. The fire effects look fantastic as do the spectral beings that Alma conjures.
As said earlier, This is a very cinematic game and is heavily inspired by movies, which is obvious from the outset.
One addition to this game was the mech suit, which is a bipedal suit that you enter and become a killing machine. When inside a mech suit you have infinite ammo for the mini guns and infinite rockets as well. These sections are really just for fun and they deliver on the action. Walls explode from your rockets and everything becomes a warzone. You don’t get to use the mech suits a great deal throughout, but when you do it’s a very memorable part of the game. The story and mech suits are very reminiscent of anime from the far east.
The AI in this game is fantastic and there are moments when you find yourself thinking how smart your enemy is. Many times I was flanked after a grenade was thrown at me or I would see enemies repositioning themselves in order to get higher ground. There was even one section where I saw a replicant crawling on his stomach under some pipework just to get around the back of me. The AI will even use the same cover system as you, which means there are times that they will pull over vending machines to hide behind and you will have to move around them as best you can.
The game isn’t overly long and can be finished in under 7 hours, there are chances to play through again on harder difficulties and also collect the hidden items. I played on easy with a view to go back and play again. I only died a handful of times and these were mainly due to rushing a section.
Obviously there are plenty of multi player options. I only dipped my toe into the multi player, I found no latency and everyone I played with over the hour used headsets and communicated with each other. Game types are a standard affair and you gain ranks much like in most other online games nowadays. Achievements seem reasonable with a split between campaign and online play.
*I will be playing more of the online modes over the next few days, so I will update this section on the podcast this week*
The quality that Monolith has delivered is seen through the attention to detail. Even though the chapters are very samey the details included are superb. Examples being, writing in blood left behind by Alma, the ambience of the darkened areas where you can only see by torchlight and the apocalyptic feeling lent to all other aspects. The voice acting, while not the best heard in a video game is quite good and delivers more to the sense of drama that is being conveyed.
All in all, FEAR 2 is a great game and feels like playing through a popcorn horror movie, You can literally turn your brain off let your fingers shoot everything in sight. Some people may feel let down by the length of the game or the fact that in places in can be very linear, But as shooters go FEAR 2 will stand above many.
If you have a gap in your playing time and want to play a shooter, you can’t go far wrong with F.E.A.R 2.
Written by Strybe