Xbox 360 Review: F.E.A.R. 2

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F.E.A.R. 2 is that rare sequel that manages to eclipse the original in everyway. It’s intense, gory, faster paced, and the mechanics have been tightened. You’ll have a blast on your search for creepy kid turned creepy teenager Alma during this solid eight-hour FPS romp.

Unlike the original game which never found a way to break free of its office corridors entirely, F.E.A.R. 2 opens things up. While the initial part of the game does make it seem like it will follow the same path, the wide array of environments do eventually help create a non-repetitive world to shoot through.

Even when it does start getting long in the tooth, such as the school level, the enormous amount of detail in the game world is startling. It’s likely a way to offset the rather mundane, flat visuals, but the number of objects that exist in the world is fair trade off. Every room feels unique, with something to distinguish itself. The majority of the classrooms seem legitimate, like individual rooms as opposed to the same repetitive one.

Tighter mechanics give the shooting a far better feel, putting it on par with popular shooters of the day. The usual array of assault rifles are fast and accurate, while the wildly fun bolt rifle, laser, and pulse gun provide the right amount gory enjoyment. F.E.A.R. 2 is hardly afraid to show dismantled bodies, the insides of a disemboweled corpse, or the bone structure of the poor guy who stood too close to the exploding barrel (which sadly, F.E.A.R. 2 has far too many of).

Level design is also broken up by some of the more enjoyable turret sections in recent memory, and two mech combat situations that put the player in an ample fighting machine. A mild destruction engine shows walls breaking apart and crumbling, a solid effect that isn’t used enough. These diversions also avoid the issue of becoming stuck on objects, stairways, or doorways that seems way too consistent.

The constant stream of enemies at certain points can grow tiresome, and F.E.A.R. 2 definitely doesn’t stray away from the usual complaints of repetition. However, those drawn to supernatural horror probably won’t care, as the story provides a number of genuine creep-outs, not to mention a sequel set up in the end that while abrupt, definitely creates potential.

Multi-player delivers the expected modes, and some frenzied mech combat on certain maps. The shooting translates well into the online (and local via system link) venue, although some extensive lag puts a damper on the experience. F.E.A.R. 2 was tested in multiple rooms for this review, and each one had at least two or three players jumping around. There’s a lot of potential here, and nine maps is a solid variety, but it’s hard to imagine hardcore Halo 3 and Call of Duty fans making the jump to keep this community active.

Coming from someone who flat out hated the original, F.E.A.R. 2 is a wonderful, frantic surprise. This should please die-hard fans of the original, not to mention create new ones. A lengthy campaign (eight/ten hours dependent on difficulty) makes it a solid purchase for those not on Xbox Live, and a safe bet for online fans in case other players don’t stick around.

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