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Review: F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn

After a summer of free monthly DLC packs that added new multiplayer modes and features to F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, the developers at Monolith have turned their attention back to the single player experience. In doing so comes F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn, a purchasable downloadable content pack that includes an all-new campaign. However, the story doesn't continue from the main game's cliffhanger ending. Instead, it puts players into the role of a replica soldier named Foxtrot 813 who has been "liberated" from his drone-like existence by the psychic call of Paxton Fettel. From then on, players must make their way to the Origin Facility, ground zero for the psychic explosion, where Fettel awaits.

F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn gives players a different point of view with a new kind of character, but players mostly end up doing the same thing as always, namely take up arms and shoot everything between you and your destination. Fellow replica soldiers turn on you when it becomes clear you've lost connection to command and essentially went rogue, indicating that there's not a whole lot of camaraderie among cloned supersoldiers. Thanks to Fettel's mental awakening, Foxtrot 813 has access to the same super reflex time slowing abilities that all the F.E.A.R. main characters tend to have. The game has a strong opening sequence where you get to blast through Armacham forces from inside an EPA mech suit, but it also sets expectations. The entire game is spent fighting the same old foes using all the same F.E.A.R. 2 guns. So anyone looking for some kind of radical gameplay change to go along with the new role will be very disappointed. However, the campaign features some excellent level design, including having to navigate through the disorienting insides of a collapsed office building.

The campaign is fantastically short and most players will probably get through Reborn in about 2-4 hours, depending on individual skill and difficulty setting. In that time, players get a fully distilled F.E.A.R. 2 experience. Reborn quickly throws some of the game's most difficult enemies at you, hardly giving you a chance to catch your breath, and then ends suddenly. The story doesn't directly involve Alma this time, but she still manages to drop in using her adolescent form. It's refreshing to have a story that's not completely based around Alma, but although she doesn't have enough personal interest in you to mess with your mind, she hates you nonetheless and will send groups of commando supersoldiers to take you out. However, other than Fettel's intermittent beckoning, the plot doesn't really go any anywhere except to a fairly lame cliffhanger ending that sets up Reborn as the first chapter of an ongoing side story. At no point does Reborn offer any new insight into the events of the main game. We hope that future content releases will relate more to the main plot, but as things stand now, Reborn ends up being a big tease for things to come.

Reborn sells for $9.99, so it's probably too much to expect a ton of content to be included. When it comes right down to it, F.E.A.R. 2 is still a great first-person shooter game with impressive artificial intelligence, so we won't complain too much. To further make it worth players' while, Reborn includes a is accompanied by a free slo-mo deathmatch multiplayer mode that was present in the first F.E.A.R. game, but strangely missing from the sequel. In it, players can pick up an object that will trigger super reflexes for a short period of time, which makes opponents seem slow and the player fast to everyone else. So, even though players can breeze through the single player content, they can make up for it with fast (or slow, depending on your point of view) paced multiplayer. There's enough here to keep fans interested, but we just wish Reborn didn't turn out feeling like a commercial for the next DLC pack.

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