Lightning Review – F.E.A.R. 2

I’m not sure I feel comfortable making F.E.A.R.2 my first review since, basically, last year. F.E.A.R. 2 is not a Great Game —though it’s not a bad game either— and there are most definitely many other games that are much more worthy of my time, but I’ve decided I wanted to start writing these reviews more often, and F.E.A.R.2 just happened to be the first game I finished. I’ll keep it brief, though.

F.E.A.R.2 is a big-budget FPS that tries to be original by mixing in a touch of horror and supernatural. It is a graphically impressive game, and the action is fun and visceral. F.E.A.R. 2 tries to break the “bullet-time kills” + “cheap scares” routine of its predecessor by adding the occasional turret shooting scene and sniper map. This works reasonably well. The horror element is also pretty alright, thought it’s the jump-scare kind of horror, not the psychological kind (which is a good thing or I would never have finished this game). And the game also tries to come up with an interesting plot. It tries to, but it fails. Hard.

Actually, I’d argue that the plot is the one thing that stops F.E.A.R.2 from really rising above the rubble of other FPS games. F.E.A.R.2 picks up a few minutes before the first game ends. It continues the story of Alma, a girl with psychic abilities who turned on her captors. While this story may not be highly original, it is enough to keep the player interested. The occasional flashes of Alma and her mental world really help drive up the expectations. Most of the story, though, is told through pieces of intel you conveniently find lying around everywhere you go. This is an old technique, but in the case of F.E.A.R. it somehow feels unbelievably fake. One of the “bad guys” just happens to forget their PDA on a table and the PDA just happens to contain just that e-mail in which he or she explains his or her evil plans? The “intel” technique is so obvious it breaks suspension of disbelief, and the “Alma flashes” are often so vague that they don’t really tell you anything at all.
Case in point, the ending, which is absolutely bewildering. It was brought on in such a rushed and confusing way that instead of feeling shocked, you actually feel frustrated and disappointed. Once you realize what the ending was about, though, you’ll see that it was probably pretty interesting, on paper.
As it is, F.E.A.R.2 simply doesn’t get its point across, and all that’s left is lots of pointless shooting, the occasional jump-scare, and a ruined climax. Which is a real shame, considering how well the technical part was done. If only they had spent a quarter of that graphics budget on decent writers…

In the end, F.E.A.R.2 is a pretty-looking, fun but ultimately unsatisfying shooter. A missed opportunity.
I guess it still gets a 7 out of 10. Here, have a screenshot:

F.E.A.R.2

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 at 0:41 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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