FEAR 2 Review – Gameplay



Slack's Rating: 8
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Gameplay in F.E.A.R. 2 centers around doing battle with the black ops soldiers sent in to cover up Project Harbinger as well as the mutant progeny of the project itself. You can look forward to plenty of exhilarating firefights using cool realistic and imaginary weaponry and often involving bodies (and body parts) flying through the air, catching on fire, being electrocuted, shotgun splattered into a spray of blood, cut in two by lasers and other assorted scenes of ruckus and mayhem. The AI is quite passable and although it suffers from the occasional bout of dumbassitis (see below), it will effectively flank your position, throw grenades at you to flush you out and frequently overwhelm you.

For exceptionally dangerous situations, F.E.A.R. 2 offers up a couple of innovative features: the option to flip, slide or move certain objects in order to use them for cover and the Slo-Mo ability.

Unfortunately, the former of these two is laughably unusable because the animations that execute these 'take cover' maneuvers are handled with such a grand flourish that the whole thing looks decidedly untactical and looks more like the game is showing off this feature as opposed to actually providing the player with cover. This becomes most apparent when the AI also attempts to move or flip objects to use them for cover and leaves itself wide open for attack while doing so. The enemies can be easily shot down before they actually manage to take cover (which does add an element of humour to the game but I don't think this is what game developer Monolith was going for). So this feature looks cool but it's usefulness is questionable at best. In fact I stopped using this feature early in the game.

As for the Slo-Mo ability, this was far more useful, albeit a little confusing at first. The Slo-Mo ability, which can be engaged and disengaged at will, slows down time so that everything moves in slow motion while allowing you to turn and aim at a comparatively accelerated pace. Using this ability you can rush and attack enemy positions with impunity, get out of tight spots and apparently dodge bullets although I have never actually done the latter (and I've been through the game twice now). Not that it can't be done but rather I never really saw the opportunity.

The Slo-Mo ability can only be engaged for a limited time being monitored by a so-called Reflex Meter which appears on the game's heads-up display (HUD) when Slo-Mo is engaged. The Reflex Meter can be permanently and incrementally lengthened by using special Reflex Injectors located throughout the game.

Controls Sticky and Counterintuitive

The gameplay definitely made F.E.A.R. 2 worth the price of admission although I do have a gripe with the controls (PC version) being somewhat sticky and counterintuitive. I found I would often get stuck trying to pass through doorways requiring me to back up and try again and sometimes I would even got stuck while passing over certain objects on the ground. All of this totally messed up some of my strategic attempts to take the enemy by surprise and although this wasn't a deal-breaking bug, it happened frequently enough to really piss me off.

Other times, the counterintuitive way the sprint function was handled, i.e., you have to press the Forward key and then the Sprint key in order to actually sprint once again messed up my strategy. By way of comparison, other games, e.g., Far Cry 2, Crysis, will allow you to press the Sprint key at any time (either before or after you move forward) in order to sprint so the way F.E.A.R. 2 handled this feature took some getting used to.

And finally, I found that the animations dealing with the melee kicking attacks were poorly handled because the kicks didn't appear to actually make contact with the target giving a very unsatisfying feel to them.

All of this made for some clunky gameplay although it wasn't enough to turn me off the game altogether.


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