A second dose of the successful psychic shooter
First-person shooter (FPS) games are ten a penny, but the original Fear stood out from the crowd, largely because it took Eastern cinema as its main influence. Mixing the action style of John Woo movies with the visceral chills of Japanese horror films such as The Ring and The Grudge, at the time no-one had seen or played anything like it.
Four years and several imitators later and Fear's long-awaited sequel isn’t looking nearly so original. The previous game’s protagonist may have been replaced by an all-new hero (Sergeant Michael Becket) and Alma, the spooky little girl from the first instalment, may have grown up a little, but the basic premise is pretty much the same. Most of the time you’ll be wandering a series of samey-looking levels, mopping up any bad guys and generally having the willies scared out of you by supernatural phenomena and other inexplicable strangeness.
There’s no denying that Fear 2 is effective at what it does. Environments are destructible, weapons are realistic, enemies are intelligent and the scares are, well, pretty scary when they want to be. Even the overused 'bullet-time' slow-motion effect works well in context.
But even during moments where the game breaks its own mould – such as sections where you take control of a giant robot suit – there’s never much sense that you’re experiencing anything particularly new.
What will keep you playing, though, is the sheer pace of the action, which starts with a bang (literally) and is pretty much relentless throughout. Also worthy of a mention is the skilfully told storyline. At heart it’s a pretty hackneyed tale involving mutants, ghosts and genetically modified supersoldiers, but it’s also a good example of how a game can convey intrigue in a way that pushes the player forward.
Coming with some decent multiplayer options too, Fear 2 is one of the better PC shooters out there, despite its relative lack of innovation. A word of warning, however; the 18 certificate on the front of the box is there for a very good reason.
There’s lots of blood, not to mention guts, gore and a whole load of genuinely frightening moments. Fear 2 lives up to its name – if not the reputation of the original – and is definitely not for the faint of heart.
PEGI age rating: 18+
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