The staples of Monolith’s games are all here. There’s the primary school with a vast underground bunker beneath it housing telepathic experiments – if you got sent to the head teachers office in this school you never came back. There’s a hospital that’s anything but hospitable where a hit squad runs riot trying to suppress the truth by peppering the staff with bullets, and bodies skewered on surgical instruments litter the rooms. There’s a maze-like tube station, a clinical cold environment that looks amazing lit by torchlight and hides its fair share of twists. When was the last time your commute involved fighting off trapped spirits and psychic hit squads?
This sequel also takes Monolith outside of its safety zone. This is a bigger, more ambitious shooter than the original. The nuclear explosion that kick-starts the game means that a third of this shooter is set in a desolate wasteland. But this is Monolith, remember, and even among the city ruins there are some shocks.
Emergingout into a street we saw a civilian, briefcase in hand, waving down a taxi. Odd. How many taxis do you get in a nuclear wasteland? He turned, looked at us and shrieked. As he did so, the dead bodies of the Armacham soldiers that littered the street reared up, staggered at us and started taking pot-shots. The innocent-looking civilian was their puppet master, the soldiers his deceased shambling show. But who was controlling the puppet master? And why?
What struck us as we played FEAR 2 was the attention to detail – it’s incredible. Every level features numerous set pieces that will shock, surprise and have you clawing at the trigger in frantic response. There are minor moments: a Boeing careens overhead, engines on fire, crashing into the city out of view. Later you’ll be fighting for your life in the burning wreckage of the same airplane.
One moment that made us jump came midway through the subway mission. At one point we emerged from the train tracks to see a crater above our head revealing the sky; the cars had fallen into this hole and lay in front of us. One bus hadn’t fallen, but was teetering on the edge, and as we moved forward rubble began to scatter down about the bus. Nothing happened. We inched forward, more rubble. Nothing happened. As we picked up some pace and ran for the new tunnel, the bus came crashing down. We had a split second to inch away and watch it crunch into a heap in front of us.