Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I’m still annoyed at F.E.A.R. 2. The first F.E.A.R probably has the best shotgun in any game ever. It’s a masterpiece of virtual ballistics, a simple black tube that, when fired, has the force of a punch from Mars himself. All F.E.A.R 2 had to do was carry it over exactly as it was. Instead, Monolith redesigned it and made it utter dogshit. It’s an absolute travesty and I demand this be acknowledged.
Aside from this INJUSTICE, F.E.A.R 2 is a broadly decent shooter that does a few things better than the first. The environments are more varied and there are a greater range of enemies to fight. It also introduces a couple of neat (though undercooked) ideas, like driveable mechs and the ability to push cover around in combat.
But F.E.A.R 2 is mainly worth playing to visit one location in particular - Wade Elementary. As you can no doubt guess, this mid-game mission is set in a primary school founded on the premise of teaching Alma Wade (the psychic little girl who haunts your footsteps throughout both) her letters and numbers. But its true function is to monitor her in a social environment and study her abilities.
Monolith have a thing for creepy-as-all-hell schools, having visited the idea before in Condemned: Criminal Origins. As with Condemned, Wade Elementary is by far the scariest bit of F.E.A.R 2, replete with rattling locker doors, spooky ghost-like creatures that chase you around, and some disorienting spatial manipulation as Alma messes with your mind from afar.
Given the rather humdrum horror of the first game, Wade Elementary comes as a pleasant (or perhaps unpleasant) surprise that briefly elevates the F.E.A.R 2 into something genuinely great. The rest of it isn’t bad either, provided you can get past the crushing disappointment of the shotgun.