“The Solution To Everything You Fear”

By Jim Rossignol on January 10th, 2009 at 10:22 am.


Late last night, as I drove around frozen South Western England delivering inebriated people to their homes, I got to discussing F.E.A.R. with one of its fans. The sequel, he said, was one of the games that really excited him for 2009. While I definitely appreciated the original game and its expansions, they’re also games that I feel contain a weird tension that they never quite get past. The Fear Fan talked about that moment on the ladder, or that moment where you get clubbed in the face. I raised the invisi-ninjas as the best sections. These are great scary moments within the game, and they’re scary because you’re relatively helpless. The rest of the time, however, you find yourself being an unstoppable super-man who can slow time. How, then, do things remain scary?

I can’t help thinking, then, that the Elite Powered Armour that is shown off in this latest F.E.A.R 2 trailer does exactly the opposite to what is best in its game. It even says so in the trailer: “The Solution To Everything You Fear.” Surely that’s missing the point of making a horror shooter? Maybe that’s just me.

The game is due Feb 10th in North America and Feb 13th in Europe.

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72 Comments »

  1. Chemix says:

    F.E.A.R. never really worked as a horror shooter, it wasn’t truly scary at all for the player. At best there were some surprises that made people jump, but society has desensitized itself to most of the concepts that could have made FEAR a really scary game. What made it good was the combat and the AI, and the storyline wasn’t awful, not till the expansions.

    I doubt that the EPA will be available for much of the SP campaign, much like the robotic suit and later, mech, from Chronicles of Riddick- Escape from Butcher Bay. Sometimes it feels nice to stop being hunted, and start hunting.

    Alma is probably going to take this Armacham toy and make it into scrap metal before you do anything towards stopping her. Which might be somewhat scary, having all that power and then having it taken away by a little girl, albeit a psychic undead girl with telekinetic powers and a hint of pyromania to accompany their psychosis.

  2. Jon says:

    The trailer really doesn’t say anything about how the exo will be used in the game. Riddick had great powered-armour sections that were nicely balanced with more vulnerable moments.

    Being an unstoppable time-slowing superman, or a massive exoskeleton with rocket launchers – this improves your odds somewhat against personnel, but against the supernatural I’m not sure it matters much. There’ll still be room for horror. I hope. Please!

  3. Heliocentric says:

    They only empower you so they can take it away. I can see these powerups being an important part of the emotional flow of the game.

    And no power suit is going to stop alma.

  4. Nodus says:

    Did the riot guard suit ruin Riddick? No. Such weapons/levels are like a seasoning, a worthy addition when used with restraint. Plus, being able to go back and lay some smack down on formerly scary dudes is a nice reward.

  5. Nodus says:

    Damn you Jon!

  6. subedii says:

    Well sometimes you need something to break up the pacing a little bit, I can understand the reasoning behind putting a short “tension release” on the proceedings and letting the player go nuts for a little bit.

    That said the more I read about FEAR 2 the less interested I become. It just seems like it’s going to be a relatively generic shooter in a genre that’s become flooded in recent years with some really heavy hitters.

    Apart from the pretence of horror (and I’m not really convinced yet that they realise their mistakes with the first game in that respect) what has the game really got that distinguishes it from the pack? Slow-mo was done to death a long time ago, and whilst I’m sure we can expect good AI, basing yet another shooter in destroyed post apocalyptic settings doesn’t really do anything for me.

    The thing that disappointed me most was reading that they’ve removed the martial arts attacks and are just using the standard rifle bash. Every game has one of those, being able to slide tackle someone or jump and bicycle kick them in the face was one of the really cool elements of FEAR’s combat, and I hate that they removed it. It really helped to give a physical connection to the environment and the combat. There were few things that made you feel as awesome as kicking down a door right into a fire-fight (admittedly, that feature was only introduced in the addon).

  7. MetalCircus says:

    I enjoyed FEAR on a shooting game level, i.e. it’s good fun to blast around in but I was never really scared, and was a bit non-plussed by the atmosphere. Condemned really captured all that for me, I have to say.

  8. Chaz says:

    I didn’t find the game scary either, even the invisi-ninja section was a let down. They, as with all the other enemies, just simply needed you to hit the slow down time button and then they were even easier to dispatch than the standard grunts, as they leapt out into the open in close proximity to you.

    My main problem was with the level design. They were boxy repetitive and lacked any fine detail and didn’t seem to have any groundings in reality. It seemed as if someone had set down the initial boxy layout and then someone else had just come along afterwards and sprinkled it arbitrarily with a few details like pipes sticking out of walls here and there and then chucked in a few desks to make an office.

    I found the whole game, dull, tedious and repetative. The only good bits were those spooky corridor squences, but even they were wasted as they seemed to be just thrown in a at random points. Oh and the AI was very overrated, much like the game was as a whole really.

    As you might have guessed, I’m not going to bother with FEAR 2.

  9. gioppe says:

    back a few decades… if I remember correctly in Xenon II you started with all power-ups turned on, then lost them. It was a really nice trick. Xenon II was scary.

  10. Gap Gen says:

    For me, the clubbed-in-the-face moment was made more powerful because I thought I heard something behind me, so I turned, though “nah”, then turned back to find a 2×4 in my face.

  11. Jon says:

    man I loved Xenon II – they had it for the Acorn computers. Sweet.

  12. Chaz says:

    I thought you bought all your weapons from a shop as you went along in Xenon II? If I remember rightly by the end of the game your ship seemed to fill about a quarter of the screen with all its extra appendages.

  13. Turin Turambar says:

    Well, i doubt there is more than 2 sequences where you pilot the mech. It’s not like the game is Mechwarrior, most of FEAR 2 will be like always, on foot, with some horror sequences.

  14. Kitt Basch says:

    I guess it would just come down to pacing. Breaking up the parts of sheer terror with mental stomping around in a kill bot.

    Hopefully there’ll be a part where you’re trapping in the robot and someone with big teeth/claws/can-opener is trying to get in. Like that bit in Aliens or Inner Space.

  15. Rei Onryou says:

    Xenon II was best on Amiga. Just for the tune. In fact, I’ll play it right now. *reminisces*

    As for the EPA, definitely there to be taken away.

    “Oh shit the worlds gone to hell! Oh hey, I’ve been given a new toy to make life easier.” *blow shit up* “I’m unstoppable!!!” *Alma destroys EPA and makes you feel like your manhood has been taken* “Mommy.”

    I’d also reckon a 45% chance that it’d turn up for a little bit at the end as well.

    One of the bits I found most scary in F.E.A.R was after entering a huge room covered in blood. About 30ft above was a second floor held up by concrete pillars and a large hole designed so people above could look down. A moment later, the rest of the F.E.A.R team arrive and start investigating, then tell me to get moving. Just as I’m about to, I look up and there’s Alma, looking down from above. Staring at me. I just froze, staring back for what seemed like 5 minutes just thinking “shit, what’s she gonna do…” and then she vanished. Curse those scary little girls!

  16. Koopa says:

    The combat in FEAR is one of the best in its genre, it’s the reason why I still occasionally install FEAR and play it. It’s the level desing that usually makes me stop playing after completing about half of the game. But the combat is still superb, very atmospheric and the AI is just incredible.

    The first thing I except from FEAR 2 is for someone to make a mod that adds the ninja-kicks and stuff back. They aren’t that big part of regular combat for me, but in some situations jump kicking the enemy in the face is just really satisfying and cool. Especially on the last enemy of a particular fight, gives a nice Matrix Lobby Scene -feeling.

  17. phuzz says:

    I only ever played the demo of FEAR (they can sod off if they think I’m putting all the dots in the title), and it did scare the bejesus out of me, but then I always found the Exorcist really scary too. I think it’s little girls in horror films/games, it’s just a twisted concept.
    And as everyone else has said, you can’t keep the player at the same level of terror for the entire game, I think the EPA will be used to make you feel safe, then be taken away to leave you really vunerable.

  18. CakeAddict says:

    The only reason I find fear a bit scary is because of the little girl.

    Freaky little girls in horror games/movies, my weak point.. especially if they have this freaky giggle.

  19. A-Scale says:

    Depends entirely on how the mech is used. If they can create a hatred/disgust of the baddies, vulnerability becomes part of the mind. Fancy if you were horrified of spiders, and played a game which subjected you to spider attacks for five hours, but at the end of those five hours you are put in a suit of some sort that just lets you annihilate the spiders en masse, but all the while still visually experiencing their horribleness. You are no longer capable of sustaining damage from that which you fear, but you are still visually tormented, resulting in a cathartic but also deeply terrifying experience.

    But I doubt this game will do that. It would be very hard to create something that everyone is disgusted and scared of. Dead Space is a good model, though.

  20. Wedge says:

    I wish they’d stop teasing with SHOGO innuendo like that and just make a new one =<.

    And FEAR was never scary, so w’ever. It had solid gameplay, but a poor difficulty curve, at is was largely enemies and AI over the course of the game. It all went to hell at the end too… ugh… floating zombie goasts, laaaaame.

  21. Skurmedel says:

    F.E.A.R was one of my favourite games; some may say it wasn’t scary, but we’re all different and to me it was scary enough. Even if you strip out the horror parts I think it would be a pretty solid game. The AI and the story kept you working.

  22. JKjoker says:

    I agree with Wedge, FEAR’s ending was really really lame, first you got jacked of all your weapons without any reason, then you are forced to kill the dude you were following the whole game without any kind of fight and then you get an hour of flying ghosts, which die so easly…

    also i think i got sick of the whole “lets follow X, but youll never reach him/her! he/she is ALWAYS one step in front of you, oh and if you shoot any of the times X appears in front of you, he/she was an aparition! not the real thing, SCARY, ooooohh!!” it feels like that “Heroin Hero” game from the Guitar Hero Southpark episode, you never catch the dragon, man

  23. Schadenfreude says:

    The clubbed in the face incident really pissed me off because I managed to get a shot off, my reticle right over his face when I pulled the trigger. :/

    Then when the game actually would let you kill him I just pistol-whipped his thigh and he fell over dead. One could say the verisimilitude was shattered.

  24. Heliocentric says:

    I’m excited by proxy for this. By order of the other half. This is all.

  25. qrter says:

    I can see these powerups being an important part of the emotional flow of the game.

    Nothing against you, Heliocentric, but that did make me laugh! (maybe that was your point?)

  26. Berto says:

    I didn’t find FEAR to be that scary, at least not in the level of AvP or Penumbra scariness.
    I just wish that Monolith did NOLF3 :(

  27. Ploddish says:

    I really liked the music in FEAR, though apparently not many other people noticed it…

    Also, I liked the very end. That was awesome.

  28. PHeMoX says:

    Condemned totally was a lot scarier as the player was a lot more vulnerable, but I don’t think F.E.A.R was really a horror game as it played way more like a normal shooter on steroids. It just made things a little bit more intense by it’s great atmosphere of creepiness. I don’t think it totally failed at being somewhat ‘scary’ as far as any game could truly be scary.

    It did however fail in very much the same way as Doom3 as far as trying to frighten people goes.

  29. Optimaximal says:

    It did however fail in very much the same way as Doom3 as far as trying to frighten people goes.

    Woah woah woah… Granted, it failed as a pure horror experience, but it didn’t have any damn monster-in-the-closet faux-scares.

  30. JKjoker says:

    oooh, a No one lives forever 3 would rock so much ass, sadly they killed the franchise with that stupid Contract J.A.C.K. crap

  31. Gap Gen says:

    I guess things can be scary in a big mech, as long as there’s something bigger and scarier to go up against. The first time a mech loomed out of the Venusian fog in Battlezone was pretty scary, as was desperately trying to scavenge biometal while furies descended and threw lighting at you, even though you were in a space tank.

  32. Blaxploitation Man says:

    I enjoyed FEAR the shooter more then I enjoyed FEAR the horror game.

    I wouldn’t mind if they ditched Ringu-girl entirely.

  33. Efendi_ says:

    Why does every game start with ‘The world has changed, bla bla bla…’ cliché! C’ mon guys, you can find a lot more unique stuff for the story. Fear 2 takes 4/10 from me. DOW 2 and Starcraft 2 will be ruling next year, mark my words.

  34. Radiant says:

    Super Nashwan Power!

    I have no idea what a Nashwan was but god bless that tiny power ball.

  35. FernandoDANTE says:

    F.E.A.R. didn’t scare me at all. Little Japanese girls with hair over their faces were already worn out by the time the first game came out, so when you saw Alma it was like seeing the same girl from The Ring or whatever other shitty rip-off of Japanese horror movies. Alma wasn’t scary then, I’ll doubt she’ll be scary now.

    Granted, it was pretty fun to slow time and shoot your enemies in the head with the almighty PENETRATOR. Then going up close and seeing their heads nailed to the wall.

  36. Matt says:

    Doesn’t the fear come from having in invinco-suit, but still not being able to dispatch a little girl who tears people apart etc?

  37. FernandoDANTE says:

    But the little girl never really kills you or pose any actual threat to you. You know that every single event involving Alma is a SCRIPTED event, where there’s only one result.

  38. Vandelay says:

    The original FEAR was really two very divergent games, both of which were well executed but didn’t really gel. Leaving aside that the demo and preview videos had the best scares in them, for the most part the “scary” bits built up the tension effectively and the shooting elements were exceptionally visceral, still being some of the best around.

    The problem was that they were never melded together, except for the very few encounters with the invisible ninjas. This made them feel very separate and giving the sense of now for the shooting, now for some scares, now shooting and so on.

    I hope that with the sequel they can add some enemies that the player can really fear, but I share Jim’s doubts on the use of a armoured vehicle. It is usually a chore in most games and it doesn’t really fit with the style I expect from FEAR.

    I actually did love the first game, even with its shortcomings. Extraction Point less so, but it was okay. Got high hopes for the sequel to at least get the combat side right and that it will be the best FPS of 2009 (unless Valve can stun us once again for the third year running.)

    @FernandoDANTE – Which would also apply to all horror films then. No kind of horror is scary if you don’t get yourself into the right mood beforehand.

  39. The Hammer says:

    The fear comes from the unknown, right? Not knowing who your foes really are, how vulnerable you are to them, and when they’re going to show up next.

  40. malkav11 says:

    I don’t know about that. That’s one source of fear, certainly. But there’s also knowing exactly what your foes are, how lethal they are, and hey, your radio says they’re right around the next corner. In the fog. (Yay, Silent Hill.)

    To me, it’s really a lot more about atmosphere than anything else. And if a game nails that, as Condemned and the Silent Hill games do (to name a few), then all the knowing what comes next one can get from walkthroughs (I’m a walkthrough addict) doesn’t alleviate the creepy.

  41. Tick-Tack says:

    Don’t know if its a teaser or easter egg ? but in F.E.A.R 2 there is a guy with a Shogo Mobile Armour 2 t-shirt on underneath a lab jacket.
    http://www.pcgames.de/?menu=browser&mode=fullscreen&pic=/screenshots/original/2008/12/F2PO_115screens__29_.bmp&name=FEAR%202:%20Project%20Origin-Preview:%20Die%20PC%20Games-Vorschau%20zum%20Grusel-Shooter

    As towards the balance of horror/action in F.E.A.R 1 well on the DVD developer commentary I recall Monolith stating they were aiming for a fusion of action movie with supernatural elements and that’s pretty much what they delivered. F.E.A.R 2 being more of the same is no bad thing as far as I’m concerned, I loved the first game.

  42. Tonamel says:

    While I agree with you that there are other sources of fear, Silent Hill is almost completely about the fear of the unknown. Not the “where are they?” kind of unknown, though there’s plenty of that too, but more the “what the hell is going on?!” kind of unknown.

    Most horror games derive a fair amount of fear from making the player feel vulnerable, which is why FEAR didn’t quite work. But even with all the guns in the world, it’s possible to make the player feel vulnerable if those guns aren’t effective against a particular threat. Or if you HAVE to slow time because an enemy moves too fast otherwise, etc.

    I’m interested in this one, if only to see what they do with it.

  43. Tonamel says:

    Oh, and the radio in Silent Hill says that the monsters are nearby, but not where exactly. And if you haven’t seen them yet, that’s TOTALLY fear of the unknown.

  44. Heliocentric says:

    I find stalkers atmospheric horror one of the most terrifying. Bad places i don’t want to go. I don’t need to go. But a man is offering me money to go there.

    Another horror is best served by other people horror multiplayer games. But you need to submit to the experience, as with any horror. Paintball zombies(when hit a zombie lies down tempory. if a zombie grabs another both are zombies) in the woods, the genius being you can’t tell who is a zombie until you are close, assuming you see them at all. Its not scary if you pout and announce they are just playing a game. But if you roleplay it, it can really get you going.

  45. Heliocentric says:

    Btw. Naked teenage alma can kill you. And i nearly choked on my drink when she did.

  46. Heliocentric says:

    @Qrtr i was being vaguely scarcstic with my terminology but i mean it.

    They want you to come off the high of ultimate power and then kick you in the fear gland.

  47. Empyreal says:

    I disagree with your assessment of Elite Powered Armor slogan, Jim. I think it is used ironically, since it will in fact not be the solution to everything you are supposed to fear in-game. This probably points to some form of ghost or supernatural creature disabling the armor and trapping you in it, or some similar sequence.

  48. Mr Lizard says:

    I agree with the commenters who’ve said the power armour will be used sparingly, if only because they’ll struggle to fit it into all the corridors.

  49. Darth Benedict says:

    I have to say, the mech sounds like it could be a lot of fun as long as it isn’t available too long. As for it wrecking the horror parts, I don’t really care. The scary little girl theme doesn’t do anything for me, so they are just more loading screens as far as I’m concerned.

  50. FernandoDANTE says:

    Yeah, naked teen Alma can kill you, but that was during the, what, last 10 minutes of the game? It was damn cool, and kinda tense, but it’s the ONLY part of the game where Alma actually makes any difference. She deserved more.

    @ Vandelay: This whole “getting in the mood for horror” thing is kind of bullshit, IMO. Playing L4D, I don’t get myself in any mood – I’m just there having fun with my mates, and then OH NOES A BOOMER HIT US WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!! I don’t think the witch is particularly scary all by herself, but it’s frightening when one of your buddies runs up ahead and unsuccessfully tries to get some achievement by killing her, getting himself killed instead.

    It’s the game’s job to create a scary atmosphere. In the really good, really scary games, the player doesn’t actually have to do anything to be scared. I didn’t have to get in any “mood” when I played System Shock 2, Dead Space, Silent Hill, Left 4 Dead, Half-Life (yes, HL did scare me quite a few times).

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