F.E.A.R. 2 is difficult to type with all that punctuation.
Platform: PS3*/Xbox 360/PC
Players: 1 (Online: 2-16)
ESRB: Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language)
F.E.A.R. 2 does two things quite well: Close-quarters gun-based combat and scaring the pants off of you. Unfortunately, these two things aren’t integrated very well.
Here’s the deal: You are part of a special forces team bringing Genevieve Aristide, president of Armacham, into protective custody. The explosion from F.E.A.R. 1 ensues and you discover the whole Alma thing and channeling psychic energy and so forth. And the scary parts involve Alma and these hallucinations and paranormal events that the player experiences as he or she progresses through the game. These are pretty frightening sometimes, only made awkward by the fact that the player is wearing a helmet, and so often there is a static noise as that cuts out before a hallucination. What makes something truly frightening is if it stays with you after you’ve put the game down. Wandering into your dark basement and for some reason anticipating something horrifying means the game has done a good job. Unfortunately, things like this static and other factors detract from the realness of the fright, limiting it to your screen.
Regardless, the main antagonist of the game is not Alma. Most often you’re shooting at replica soldiers engineered to be controlled by someone who is pushed through Project Origin and has their psychic abilities augmented so that they can control this battlefield of soldiers. They are pretty much like any other soldier you’ve ever faced.
This separation of fright and antagonist creates a dissonance that eliminates any chance of a thoroughly scary experience as it is broken up into scary – gunfight – scary – gunfight sequences. This seems to undermine what the original intent of the series was.
Nonetheless, F.E.A.R. still makes for a great game. The hardest difficulty, for me anyway, was a fantastic experience with challenge balanced very well with the need for movement in plot – one of the biggest problems facing developers in the quest to match film and books as a storytelling medium. It plays clean, looks clean, and is a very fun experience.
Bottom Line: 9/10