|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Monolith Productions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Warner Bros.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 10, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Also, F.E.A.R. 2 does a nice job of changing up the locations within which you'll fight. This is also a vast improvement over the original, which kept you cornered in facilities like a rat in a maze. Starting off in familiar indoor confines, F.E.A.R. 2 will soon progress to some excellent outdoor urban wastelands and a subterranean complex that will test your FPS ability. Because of the varied environments, I never found myself bored or disinterested with the title. Fighting in buildings was fun because I had to deal with tight corridors, bad lighting, columns, locked and barricaded doors, etc. While fighting outside allowed me to take advantage of the environment and foment chaos in a bombed out urban setting - which frequently made for some stunning visuals.
In fact, visuals are another one of the game's strong points. The world seems realistic and lived-in, blood flows like wine, and weapon fire looks great. All the battles are frantic and chaotic, but the game rarely seemed to chug along - I loved just how smooth the game plays. Best of all was just how awesome the supernatural effects are. They do a great job of setting the tone of the story. Lighting is phenomenal, the warping of the screen and the static interference when Alma is present is quite creepy, and the ethereal Specters are some of the best ghosts ever portrayed in a video game.
However, slightly marring the graphics is a somewhat fuzzy and grainy filter. I would have liked to have seen far sharper visuals. If you have a true gaming PC, some of the visual hiccups will be smoothed over. Also, while animations and physics seem to be pretty darn good, enemies often fall to the ground in unrealistic ways. Many times I was jerked out of gaming zen by a Replica who somehow stayed perched on their knees after taking several lethal headshots. The death animations definitely could have used some work. These complaints are minor though, and all in all the game looks solid.
This is also true of the sounds in F.E.A.R. 2. The purposefully disjointed musical themes really work by staying unpredictable. Also, the sound effects are very eerie. It is easy to get sucked into believing what you're seeing because the sounds are there to truly enhance the experience. Finally, the voice over work, while professional, doesn't quite hit the mark. All in all, the actors did a nice job of portraying the dialogue, but occasionally a shiver of embarrassment rippled through me during the delivery.
Perhaps the weakest part of F.E.A.R. 2 is its multiplayer offering. There are six modes of play that encompass classic game types such as Deathmatch, CTF, and strategic point control. Also, players can try their skill at defusing and setting bombs or even battling it out in an EPA mech suit. Unfortunately, the later suffers from the fact there is only one suit per side, which means it struggles with some serious second fiddle issues. Eventually, players will be able to buy new weapons and change and customize their load-outs, including primary, secondary, and armor type. The multiplayer mode is by no means broken or even dull, it just isn't nearly as compelling as the single-player campaign, and it can't hold a candle to the other top shooters out there.
As you can see, F.E.A.R. 2 is a very competent and enjoyable game. As a shooter, I was very impressed with the title. Unfortunately, I never really felt the fear that gave the game its moniker. Certainly the game is disturbing, but it is definitely not frightening. I think it's because there is so much action going on all the time that players actually become numb to the scare factor. As such, you'll want to pick up F.E.A.R. 2 because it is an outstanding FPS with a great ambience, not because it is a horror title that implements shooter mechanics. This is perhaps the biggest complaint I can muster for this title. Even still, I found the single-player compelling enough to recommend its purchase to anyone who likes to blow stuff up with a sense of purpose!
CCC Editor / News Director