Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix
Sex, murder, suicide, drugs, prostitution, an AIDS-like disease--and that's just the intro movie. Fear Effect 2 definitely doesn't shy away from taboo subjects, and the result, helped quite a bit by some outstanding voice acting, is one of the most compelling and interesting adult stories I've played in a long time. Only those who have seen the ads for this game and are expecting some hot girl-on-girl action will be disappointed. Graphically FE2 hasn't changed much from the first game--the backgrounds are again moving video, which means they look grainy but are capable of some awesome animation as you play (I can't wait to see this series on the DVD systems). Controls and gameplay are also just like the original--basically a loose copy of the Resident Evil schemes. Luckily the bosses this time around are easier (maybe a bit too easy) and the previously long loading times after you die are almost nonexistent. I can't stress how important that is, 'cause even though FE2 doesn't feature nearly the amount of quick and rapid deaths as the first game, it still has its share. Which brings us to my favorite aspect of FE2: Most adventure games are lucky if they manage two interesting puzzles--this game has almost two dozen great puzzles; they are challenging, clever and perfectly woven into the levels. Simply put, they are the best bunch of brain teasers in any game I've ever played, and reason enough to love FE2.
Having never played Fear Effect before, I wasn't sure what to expect from this FMV-laden action. If it didn't have the gameplay to back it up, it would be nothing more than an excuse to serve up heavy doses of violence and sexual innuendo. Without question the FMV makes the game look better, but also makes it look very grainy. Good thing the load times are quick. The control scheme takes some getting used to, but once you do it's really handy to be able to switch weapons, bust up some enemies and reload all while running. It reminds me more of Out of This World than Resident Evil, maybe just because of the frustrating style of some of its puzzles.
There's some hype surrounding FE2 since it features two pretty ladies playing a brief game of tonsil hockey. And besides that, there's profanity, lots of bullet-to-the-brain gruesomeness, and a story that entertains, surprises, shocks and unravels into plenty of surreal weirdness. But shock value isn't the reason you should unload your pocket at the corner gaming store; Buy FE2 because it's awesome. For adult gamers this foray into the dark underbelly of fantasy/reality (can you smell the oxymoron?) appeals on all carnal levels. The visuals are so crisp and imaginative you'll want to get to the next area just to see them. Don't miss this one.
Download Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix
This prequel to Eidos' latest PS milking cow is already under way. It follows the story of the three mercenaries from the first game and shows you how they met and fleshes out the original's backstory. Travel from New York City to Asian locales like Hong Kong, lost temples and a mountain island in the Pacific. Features two hours of CG sequences, improved inventory system, 60+ types of enemies and lots more anime-style action.
Hong Kong, 2028. The most lethal of plagues has been unleashed on the population; in four years 700 million people have died from it. No one knows how to stop it, how it started, how it’s contracted. Nothing. It’s a population killer in an already dark and dangerous world. Enter Hana, Deke, Glas, and Rain -- four do-anything-for-money mercenaries who have been independently hired to "recover" seemingly unrelated items. What starts out as a simple job turns into a twisted race against time that forces the four of them to trust one another in order to save the world from a most deadly fate. For those "unrelated" items are the only weapon against this unstoppable plague.
Fear Effect 2 is a gory, graphic game set in a very violent and unhappy future. As mercenaries, expect to see backstabbing, theft, sex, and the gratuitous use of firearms. Life is taken as easily as you chew bubble gum. Mutants, robots, Chinese ghosts, and devious puzzles are thrown in your path in an effort to thwart your attempts at stopping true evil.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Fear Effect 2 is viewed in a quasi-third-person view similar to the Resident Evil series. Up on the analog control is always forward, even if your character is running straight at you. It takes very little time to get used to and since the camera angles constantly change as you run from location to location it works very well.
Characters run throughout the various stages collecting items ranging from ammunition to DNA code discs. Essentially, you move your character around until the yellow "use" appears at the bottom of the screen. From there you can use any one of the collected items that you have found, in the hopes that it is the correct item. To give you an example, at one point in the game, Glas has wrecked his vehicle. If he stands next to the pile of rubble that’s near his vehicle the "use" icon appears. After trying all of the items in his inventory it is discovered that nothing will work. It isn’t until he finds the dynamite that an action will actually take place. In this instance Glas blows a hole in the rubble and can go to the next area.
Inventory, however, is the only blemish in an otherwise awesome game. Scrolling through the inventory requires the circle and square buttons. Once the desired item is on screen you press the triangle button. This can be very difficult if you need a particular item to open a door and you must scroll through 14 items while enemies are beating you up. You cannot scroll and shoot your weapons at the same time. This was a minor issue, but was problematic nonetheless.
Rated "M" for "Mature," the game is not unlike an R-rated movie with its adult sexual situations, strong language, and absolute barrage of blood-filled shoot-outs. Animated cut-scenes are abundant but never bog down on the overall feeling of the game. A quick press of the start button will end them if you feel like you have watched one too many. I enjoyed the cut-scenes as they were well done and made the tempo of the game flow. Being an anime fan didn’t hurt either. Throw in a very short load time (considering it’s a four disc game) and you’re going to be staying up late playing.
Another plus in the game is the number and variety of puzzles. Some can be looked at and solved with mere common sense and logic, while others require you to look for the subtle hints that are spread out in the area. Again, this is not a child’s game so the puzzles can be quite a bit more difficult then your common video game puzzle. Either way, it is a welcome addition to the gameplay and gives the player a feeling of accomplishment when a real brain-buster is solved. Believe me, there are a few of them in this game.
Additionally it should be noted that not all the puzzles and action require violence. In one instance, both Hana and Rain are attempting to infiltrate the higher floors of a building while an upscale party is taking place. In an effort to gain access in the elevator, Hana takes off her dress and starts making out with Rain so the guards will be distracted. Needless to say, they gain access
All I can say is "wow!" This is the original Playstation at its finest. Sure, it has a grainy look to it, but that’s the way this future world is. I was very happy with how the game came across visually. The backgrounds were well done and gave the game ambiance. Hana and Rain look sexy while Deke did not (that’s what they wanted I’m sure). And while some might say that it’s not as pretty as a Final Fantasy game, I will bet money that the content of the characters is conveyed visually more accurately than in any Final Fantasy game. I have played the Final Fantasy games and didn't feel as strongly about those characters as I did with the Fear Effect characters.
Again, perfection. The voice acting by Wendee Lee (Hana), Lex Lang (Deke), and others was excellent. I personally have yet to play a game with such quality voice acting. As far as other audio was concerned: slam dunk. Gunfire (and you hear a lot of it) sounds like it’s in your living room as long as you are piping it through a home theatre system. Subtle noises that you don’t pay attention to and don’t miss unless they're gone are all done wonderfully. Audio content is consistent throughout the game and adds that finishing touch.
This game is tailor-made for an older audience. It has an intriguing plot that consists of a thinking man’s storyline, devious puzzles, and movie-quality voice acting. And while the plot is partially borrowed from about two different movies ("Blade Runner" and John Woo's "The Killer") and two different books (Zelazny's Damnation Alley and Koontz's Shadowfires), it is solid.
The bottom line is that this could very well be one of the last really good games put out on the original PlayStation. It is an excellent game and well worth the money. Strong gameplay combined with inviting characters make this a "Must Buy" for the mature gamer.