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I think there are also some issues with the structure. F.E.A.R. 2 offers a surprisingly long single-player campaign, but it's a bit of a slow burner. The early levels plod a bit too much, and it's a while before we get interesting new enemies, impressive set-piece moments or access to the most destructive weaponry. Then suddenly you get a whole lot of goodies clumped in at once. Compared to F.E.A.R.'s skilful and steadily escalating introduction of new ideas, new arms and new enemies, you get the idea that the sequel holds too much back for too long in reserve.
Nor does it help that F.E.A.R. 2 doesn't exactly look cutting-edge. Sure, there have been improvements to the lighting and we get a new raft of post-processing and particle effects in the slowmo combat and nightmare sequences, but this is still a game full of bland textures, boxy environments and less than photo realistic character models. Two years ago this might not have been a problem, but having played Killzone 2, Gears of War 2, Resistance 2 and Crysis: Warhead in the last six months, F.E.A.R. 2 again feels like yesterday's game. It's F.E.A.R. with an extra layer of polish, not F.E.A.R. taken to a whole new level.
With limited experience of the multiplayer portion of the game under my belt, I wouldn't like to make too many sweeping comments about it now, but again I come away feeling a mixture of admiration and disappointment. Admiration, because the team at Monolith has innovated and made some some smart design decisions. For example, it has transformed old game modes like Capture the Flag just by swapping the flag for a tank of dripping green glue that leaves everyone a nice trail to follow. Meanwhile, a new customisable class system where you can effectively roll your own load-out is to be commended. All the same, the games I've played have yet to convince me that there's anything here that I've never seen before, and I suspect that a lot of players will give F.E.A.R. 2 multiplayer a go then return to Call of Duty 4, Resistance 2, Halo 3, Crysis or whatever their current favourite happens to be.
Taken as a whole, I've found F.E.A.R. 2 a very difficult game to judge. Like any critic, I try to take various technical and visual factors into consideration, but in the end I'm always guided by my personal feelings and my experience of playing the game. With F.E.A.R. 2 I've had some high points and some moments of real excitement, but also a lot of 'is this it?' and 'do they really think this is good enough?' F.E.A.R. 2 will still have a strong enough appeal to two groups of people: those who bought and loved the original will be reasonably happy to just have more of the same but slightly better, while hardcore FPS fans will know it and appreciate it for the high-class corridor shooter that it is. If you're not in those groups, however, then there's no reason to rush out and buy F.E.A.R. 2 right now. It's a perfectly decent shooter, but with a property as exciting as F.E.A.R. decent isn't really good enough.
F.E.A.R. 2 is good enough to grab fans of the original game, but not great enough to take its Asian horror/Hong Kong action movie mix to a whole new level. Enjoyable, but mildly disappointing.
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