FEAR 2 continues the theme from FEAR and Extraction Point, but is a parallel story about a Delta operative named Michael Becket. Yes, you actually get a name in this one. The time frame is just slightly before the blast that devastates the city in FEAR 1 and your team is sent to take Genevieve Aristide, the Armacham executive who let Alma out of the vault, into protective custody. She has been marked for elimination by the company's board and Armacham Security Forces have been deployed to accomplish the deed. It is while you are in her apartment that the city is destroyed and you are knocked unconscious.
Waking up in a medical facility, you soon discover that you and your team have undergone a surgical procedure that links you to Alma through a telesthetic signature. As the story progresses, you learn that Armacham has several programs in place to develop and experiment with biochemical engineering and you have been the subject of one of them. Now, Genevieve is using your team to track Alma, gain control of her, and use her as a bargaining chip with the board. You must fight your way through the security forces and the Replica Soldiers Armacham have engineered to thwart Genevieve and destroy Alma.
With the introduction of more characters and thus more interactions, the story in this game is more interesting and more fleshed out than in FEAR. We get to know the extent of Armacham's involvement in everything that's transpired and learn more of Alma and her minions. There's not really much new to tell you about the actual gameplay as it resembles the first one in many ways, but as I moved immediately from playing FEAR and Extraction point to FEAR 2 there were a few notable differences that were immediately obvious. On the negative side the changes included a loss of the lean feature, a HUD that interferes with the screen, no quicksave or manual saves and weapons that feel more like toys than the real thing. The AIs are also not as bright and in the beginning you can practically walk up to them and tap them on the forehead without taking damage. However, surprisingly, it turned out to be a pretty good romp anyway. Combat did improve later as Replica forces were introduced, but experienced players might want to crank up the difficulty level.
The complaint I had in FEAR about the lack of variety in the maps has been fixed in FEAR 2. They are far more varied and interesting with only short non-action sequences in between events. Except for the above mentioned, most things remain the same as in the first with the introduction of a couple of new mutations, weapons and a fun armored unit that lets you blast your way through the enemy. There are also a couple of sequences where you man a turret and these additions add a little more interest to the game.
The weapons are, however, a severe disappointment. Whereas in FEAR, they felt weighty and powerful, here they feel like toys, but then, all you need to do is blow on the Armacham soldiers and they will fall over. Granted, this situation does improve later, but combat never reaches the standard set in FEAR. There are, though, a couple of sequences thrown in that pump up the volume so to speak.
The graphics are once again very good and the lighting not quite as shadowy as in the first one. It's also not as much of a gore fest. There is very nice attention paid to the details in the maps and they never feel sparse and empty. However, I don't know why developers have such a problem with getting the flashlight right. This time it's manually operated, but there were a few places where it was worse than useless and I was experiencing such eyestrain I was forced to turn up the brightness.
A lot of people have commented that this game has a rather abrupt ending and it did elicit an "Oh" from me when it happened. Although I knew I was near the end, I just wasn't expecting it at that particular moment. The story is not wrapped up, so I expect FEAR 3 will address this.
It should be noted that saves are done through checkpoints and there are no saved games other than these, but after completion you can replay any level. Both FEAR and FEAR 2 have their individual strengths and their weaknesses, but on the whole both are enjoyable in their way and rank fairly high as shooters.
In the Fear Reborn expansion, you play replica soldier Foxtrot 813. You are part of a team that is sent to secure a command post from Armacham forces and during a radio check you receive a telepathic call which causes you to go rogue. It does not advance the main story of the FEAR series, but is a side plot that touches on Paxton Fettel. Your goal becomes to reach the epicenter of the blast and free him.
The story is very sparse to almost non-existent other than the above and there is nothing much new added. The weapons, slo-mo and enemies are all the same, although combat has been toughened up again. It's also very short. Some people say the graphics are improved, but I thought the opposite. Everything seems to be tainted with a slightly weird, yellowish haze that made me think "cut-rate". At the most, you will only get a couple of hours here and is really only worth it if it comes packaged with FEAR 2. You wouldn't be missing much by giving it a pass.