Alma’s back and this time she’s mad. Actually she was pretty pissed the first go around, but she certainly hasn’t gotten any happier. F.E.A.R. 2, after a brief prelude, takes up where the original left off: Alma on the loose and the city in ruins. Rather than the nameless Point Man of the first F.E.A.R., you play a member of another team who gets caught up in the fallout of the first game and the continuing political machinations of the Armacham corporation, as all parties involved try to cover their own asses and wipe all their dirty little secrets back under the carpet. Your part in all this? Stay alive long enough to figure out what in the hell is going on and put an end to Alma’s rampage.
Unfortunately, when you get right down to it F.E.A.R. doesn’t deliver on nearly a high enough level when it comes to the kind of action we expect from a modern FPS. The graphics have been prettied up a little since the original, and the slo-mo bullet-time power is still on tap, but there’s really nothing special about this shooter. The levels are claustrophobic and uninspired, and sadly not the least bit scary. The weapons are if anything a step down from the previous offering in terms of feel and performance, and the enemies deliver very little to spice things up. On top of that the difficulty is very easy, with the hard setting feeling more like normal and the brutally difficult hardest mode from the original nowhere to be found. There’s just nothing here to elevate this game from a very mundane, and occasionally even boring, shooter. To make matters ever worse, multiplayer is flat and sub-par, and the original’s Instant Action mode didn’t even make the cut.
It’s hard to play through Monolith’s F.E.A.R. 2 and not get a feeling of déjà vu. Between F.E.A.R., Condemned, and their sequels, this is the fourth scary, first person game that they’ve given us in a row, and unfortunately the experiences aren’t getting any fresher. Just as Condemned 2 largely felt like a watered down version of the original, F.E.A.R. 2 is a pretender to its progenitor’s FPS/Horror throne. The action is light, very easy on even the hardest difficulty, and the scares are practically non-existent. The graphics may be a little shinier, but that doesn’t make up for deficiencies in almost every other area when compared to the original, and that ain’t good. If you were a big fan of the first F.E.A.R., it might be worth breezing through just to see where they took the narrative, but ironically those who enjoyed the original the most are the ones most likely to be disappointed by the sequel. Please Monolith, enough is enough. Either step up your game and give us another scare fest we can be proud to play, or maybe it’s finally time to go in another direction.