A good game that has two brilliant gameplay facets, that are let down by several smaller problems. However it shouldn't ruin the experience too much, as those "brilliant gameplay facets," are really freaking awesome. Would recommend, definitely.
You play as a man named Becket who, despite actually having a name, is as quiet and as the Point Man from FEAR 1. The game begins right before it's predecessor ends, with Becket and a team of soldiers trying to find and secure Armacham employee Genevieve Aristide. After a simple first level that teaches you the basics of gameplay and gives you a few good scares, the operation goes south when the entire city is levelled from the nuke Point Man detonates in FEAR 1. You wake up in a hospital and discover you and your teammates have been experimented on, against your will, and now Alma is drawn to you, as well as a very stereotypical sergeant with all of armacham's military might intent on wiping out Genevieve Aristide, you, and anybody else who could spill the beans on the company's bad deeds. The over-arching story is a little nonsensical but is presented dramatically and it's very, very well done (except for a few not-so-good voice actors along the way) so it is forgivable. The story also expands on Alma Wade, the figurehead of the series, and turns her from spooky ghost girl into a character you actually can feel very sorry for, until her naked, wrinkled corpse begins hunting you and trying to... do things to you... The ending of the game is actually really good though, and even though I knew what was coming, I couldn't help but still be a little freaked out. It WILL make you want to either replay the game, or go and buy F3AR (Yes, they spell it like that).
The gameplay is pretty similar to the first game. It's a first person shooter with a heavy emphasis on strategic combat against squads of intelligent AI but also comes with levels that aren't just corridors (and encourage exploration), as well as some truly horrifying sequences. Unfortunately the game is a little uneven in some regards, as the action-shooty-shoot-bang side of the game feels rough compared to FEAR 1 with the AI seeming less intense and almost less intelligent , and a lot of the new features feel shallow and useless. However the enemies are still fun to fight, and are still much smarter than the average COD campaign AI. You won't use the optional "Flip cover" mechanic at all, however, as it's quicker and easier to duck behind something else than to press "e" and go into the slow animation of flipping a table. A few guns also feel stupid as well, such as the pulse gun. It's supposed to be like an energy bazooka thing that fires a big plasma ball that travels reaaaally slowly before melting anything it touches to bones, which sounds cool, but its clunky and awkward to use and doesn't even feel powerful, so instead of that I just used the awesome missile launcher as my heavy weapon, and it worked just fine. There is also an added feature of a giant mech walker ala Titanfall you climb into at certain points and wreck stuff with, and those two sections were amazingly fun and I loved them very much as it gives you the ability to grind through tough enemies like a hot knife through butter and blow holes through walls. It's empowering and a blast, and it's rare enough to keep from getting in the way of the horror.
Speaking of horror.... The horror lands on the side of horror that is a slow, creepy build up where your jumping at shadows and noises, to full on freaking the heck out when things escalate, and boy do they escalate. The first bits of horror you encounter in the hospital level left me horrified beyond words, then the ruined, nuclear waste of a city had even more potent scares and mutant enemies who could raise the dead to fight for them which was frightening, stressful, and a lot of fun to battle through. But, like the action part, the scary parts have their flaws too. The developers seem to have decided, "well there's a few parts in the game where you're just solving puzzles, or progressing through an area between firefights without shooting anyone... This'll be scary if just throw in a few spooky looking enemies, or those invisible ninjas everyone loved from the first game." Unfortunately, this was not a good decision. In the third or so level I got tired of blowing through the same enemies that once frightened me so badly, and while I loved the invisi-ninjas in FEAR 1 and was excited when they came back they too grew tiresome. Fortunately there must've been some devs who understood scariness, and after the third level those enemies were replaced by a much scarier opponent (and their scares lasted much longer) until much later in the game, when they were re-introduced and made very frightening again, and the invisi-ninjas don't show up enough to ruin the experience, but they will cause serious annoyance. Overall, the horror side is fantastic and can be downright terrifying as it makes you, the gun-toting soldier, feel weak and powerless as some young woman with godlike abilities is hunting you down.
- Alma is fully grown in this game, and she likes to wander around naked. There are also heavy forced-sexual themes, so this is especially not for younger players, or for those sensetive to those materials.
- While not a very graphically intense game, it did give my ancient Radeon HD 5750 some trouble before finally ending its life. The replacement card (an HD 6850) did just fine running the game, but it built up a bit more heat than I would've expected.
- While the game is fully enjoyable on mouse-keyboard, it is, unfortunately, a console port and plays better with a controller.
- The save system is annoying when first starting the game, as it only saves at checkpoints and the first checkpoint in the hospital level is really far in and I had no idea, so I wandered around the hospital for at least 20 minutes, did some stuff and got off only to get on later to realize I had to restart that level because I didn't hit that one checkpoint. All the other checkpoints in the game are well placed and non-bothersome, but that one is a pain.
- On the subway level I somehow fell out the map twice and had to restart from a check point. The rest of the game seemed rather stable on the bug-side.