Back when I originally planned on writing about the F.E.A.R. games that were sitting in my backlog, I had hopes of getting them done sooner. Unfortunately, life happened, other games happened, and the other two F.E.A.R. games continued to sit in my library even after I finished the first game. Eventually, October rolled around and I thought that finishing the remaining F.E.A.R. games would be a perfect way of celebrating the month of horror. That never happened either and the backlog continued to be a great metaphor for my entire life. I feel like a bit of a chump for procrastinating for this long, but F.E.A.R. 2 is done and I am ready to talk about it. Even though F.E.A.R. 2 isn’t as scary or as good as the original, it’s still a decent sequel, flaws and all.
If anything, F.E.A.R. 2 is a great reminder of how awesome the original game was while still doing its own thing. For horror movie fans, I would compare it in some ways to Halloween II. It takes place almost directly after the events of the original game, much like Halloween II, but by the nature of it being a sequel, you’re racing against the clock to prevent any more destruction and death while knowing this can’t possibly be the end. Not many games wrap up a story with just two entries, mostly because it doesn’t make financial sense to end the story with just two games when there are more sequels to be made and profits to be earned.
F.E.A.R. 2’s story revolves around you playing as this new character, Michael Becket, who is part of a Delta Force team assigned to stop Alma from causing any more chaos. Along the way, Michael starts hallucinating thanks to Alma and a bunch of creepy shenanigans occurs as you are slow-motion gunning down countless replica soldiers left and right. While it is as good of a follow-up to the original as you could have wanted, it still suffers from being too similar and does a poor job making you care about what is going on – besides the fact that Alma is on the loose and causing trouble. The squad-mates you hear on your radio are pretty generic and not really fleshed out, and the rest of the supporting characters are under-developed and not very memorable. It is also worth mentioning that the two main characters from the original game, Point Man and Paxton Fettle are absent in the game in a seemingly bizarre sort of way.
Mechanically, F.E.A.R. 2 doesn’t change much of the formula set up by the original game. You can still enter slow-motion to precisely, and awesomely, bust caps in your enemies, but the tactical nature of the first game is almost nowhere to be found. Instead of having the ability to lean like in the first game, there are objects in the environment that act as intractable cover. You simply hit the action button and what was once a desk is now a fancy shield for you to stand or crouch behind as you force feed the bad guys some hot lead. This would make more sense if there was some sort of cover system, but there isn’t. Instead you hit the crouch button to squat behind your cover and simply move in and out of cover or stand up and crouch back down in order to have a clear enough shot. The ‘cover’ system seems half-baked at best and I hardly ever played that tactically because slow-motion was really all I needed to get the job done.
In the end, F.E.A.R. 2 stumbles almost as much as it strides while still being a worthwhile sequel. If anything, getting through some of the more forgettable moments in the game is made worth it by the jaw-dropping, out-of-this-world ending that has become one of my favourites in recent memory. It doesn’t take a lot to like F.E.A.R. 2, but it does take a lot to love it unlike the original – and in all honesty, that might be the most damning aspect of the game.