Monolith tells me that its pint-sized mascot of terror, Alma, is going to “touch me more” in FEAR 2, and that’s a bad thing. I’ve got a general policy of keeping 8-year-old girls who command psychic clone armies at arm’s length, and if you’re like me, you perfected your “backpedal-while-screaming-and-jamming-the-trigger” technique in the first FEAR.
Monolith’s staying true to its acronym (which it recently bought back the rights to from Sierra), but just as your character’s slow-mo ability lets you manage scary shootouts, balancing the horror with empowering action is part of the game’s plan. If I told you that I strapped into a bipedal tank and sprayed rockets and chaingun fire at helpless Replica squads (occasionally dismembering them with said weapons) in FEAR 2, would you believe me? It happened. And considering how pesky the mini-mechs were in the first game, handing out a few missile locks was sweet revenge.
I couldn’t get too cozy in the armored suit, though. While you’re on foot, you’ll encounter new characters called Remnants, and these minibosses are unlike anything we’ve ever pointed our crosshairs at. Each is visually unique; the one we stumbled upon was idling eerily in an alley, clutching a briefcase. Art Lead Dave Matthews says the Remnants are “living out the final moments of their lives over and over, until they are disturbed by an external presence. When that happens, they respond extremely aggressively.”
And how. When I got too close, the Remnant unleashed a screen-blurring scream that slowed my movement. Then, red-orange neon strings uncoiled from its torso, tethered to dead enemies in the streets, and resurrected them. Remnants are puppet-masters—reanimated corpses under their control comb the environment for weapons to use against you. They won’t lurk around every corner, but fighting a Remnant was rewardingly unpredictable: a little like having a shoot-out with a psychic Geppetto that spawns zombie Pinocchios.
Street-stompin’ mechs, a more aggressive Alma, and the Remnants all point to more variety in FEAR 2. Monolith sees the sequel as an opportunity to make a scary shooter that moves like a roller coaster. “By changing the pacing, what players are experiencing, how they’re playing the game, we keep them receptive to new things. This works particularly well for horror,” says Matthews. “After tearing apart enemy after enemy in the EPA (Elite Powered Armor), the last thing players are going to expect is to get the crap scared out of them. Keeping them on their toes like that is a fundamental way we’re trying to keep players’ experiences fresh throughout the entire game.”
+ Potentially, it’s one of the best-balanced blends of scares and action you’ll see. The Remnants are delightfully dynamic, original enemies.
– Weapons we picked up didn’t feel as punchy as we remember. Will enemy AI be as brainy as it was in the first game?
Sep 22, 2008