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Customer Review

68 of 80 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome update to the F.E.A.R. franchise but requires Steam to play, February 12, 2009
This review is from: Fear 2: Project Origin - PC (DVD-ROM)
FEAR:2, the long awaited sequel to the original Fear Trilogy (not really a trilogy, but there were three games: Fear, Fear: Extraction Point, and Fear: Perseus Mandate) is finally here and it doesn't disappoint. Walking the footprints of giants in the horror game genre isn't easy, especially when one of them was your previous incarnation, the original FEAR. Gladly, they got it right, and in fact, even better than the original in many ways.

First off the level design is much more imaginative than in the original F.E.A.R. There are a wider variety of environments (No more endless office corridors!) and they are all very nicely done.

Second, the shock value is as good or better than the original with new affects, startling moments, and fast paced action akin to Doom 3. Slow moments are mixed in, complete with visions of the dead, 1st person cut scenes that move the story along, and a few nice nods to the earlier game.

One of the things I liked best in the original F.E.A.R when it was released was the way the weapons worked. They just felt 'right' and meshed with the environments to create clouds of concrete dust from bullets hitting the walls and support beams, fires, etc. That's been taken to a whole new level in FEAR:2. The combat feels cinematic with you controlling the action. It's amazing. Sometimes I wanted to just sit back and watch what was going on, but couldn't because I would have gotten hacked to pieces by one of the swarming zombies coming my way...

This is a fairly short game, and replay value is average. Once you've played it for the story and been shocked out of your socks at a few places, the intensity level will be lower. However, the game play and visuals will keep you entertained nonetheless.

One of my biggest complaints with the game is that they did a poor job of tying FEAR:2's story together at the end. It will leave you with as many questions as answers, in the same way Fear: Extraction Point frustrated me.

I am a huge advocate for DRM free games. I've written many of those 1 star reviews that so many of you dislike. I will continue to write them, because I believe draconian DRM schemes like SECUrom are terrible for the consumer, and unnecessary as well. However, in the case of FEAR:2 and STEAM, I actually am coming down on the side of STEAM (to an extent):

1. Steam is DRM, but it isn't malicious like Securom and does not enforce limited installations on your computer. It does not take root level control of you computer, and does not attempt to disable other software, nor does it potentially screw up hardware profiles for CD/DVD drives. It is in short, about as benign as I can imagine DRM being, and while it does have its problems (see below) it is a compromise that I can in good conscience make.

2. I already have a STEAM account and have had one since HL1 days, and have a completely satisfactory experience with it, including installing multiple games on a series of different computers over time.

3. STEAM does not attempt to control my computer. It does a simple check with the server and then releases me to play my games. In fact, contrary to common belief, you can unplug your computer's internet and play Steam games all you like once they are activated.

However, STEAM has some real negatives as well:

1. Potentially violates the "Doctrine Of First Sale" which guarantees my right to re-sell something that I've purchased. STEAM allows a 1 time transfer of the game to another account, but once it is moved, that's the end. No more transfers. I understand why STEAM does this: to prevent massive rings of gamers swapping games back and forth using their servers to achieve it, bogging up their download severs, etc... While I agree that is a problem for them, I think that limiting transfers violates my rights, and destroys the second hand game market.

2. Requires 'One more program' to be run on my computer. I'm pretty selective about what I install on my PC, and I hate being forced to have yet another program running just to access some of my games.

3. What happens if Steam goes out of business? Will I still have access to my games? How? None of that is spelled out in any documentation from STEAM or VALVE.

So basically I've come into this one with my eyes wide open. It's not that I love STEAM and think it is totally without faults. I just think that its faults are not enough to limit me playing a game as good as FEAR:2. STEAM itself has proved itself reliable in the last 7 years, and so I'm willing to use it to play a game I really, really want to play. The key distinction is that Securom DAMAGES my computer and TAKES AWAY MY ADMINISTRATIVE RIGHT, as well as ENFORCES LIMITED INSTALLATIONS. STEAM does none of those things.

Overall this is a great game. If you can't live with STEAM, I understand, and I honestly probably wouldn't get involved with it either if I didn't already own a bunch of games on it from years past, before I learned about DRM schemes and began to care about such things. Go in with your eyes open, and if you think it's worth the potential risks, the game itself won't disappoint you.
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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 12, 2009 6:08:47 PM PST
Mark Lahren says:
A completely fair review. Thanks for the Steam warning. I won't be buying (for your reason number 3), but I can totally understand those who will be buying it anyway. Who knows? Likely Steam will be around 20 or 30 years. And since most folks don't go back and play old games anyway, it's not a big deal for them. But since I spend hundreds of dollars per year on PC games, I don't like to gamble with that money. I like to think of my many shelves full of games as worth something, even just a little bit, should I ever fall on hard times and need to sell them. Or even just revisit them on an old computer many years from now. And yes, I do play PC games from 15 years ago on my old 486 to this day. So for me, it is an issue. For most, however, it is the way of the future, and I understand that. I even accept it. I just won't be a part of it. My loss, I guess. :(

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2009 6:36:18 PM PST
Mark:

I actually own a huge number of old games myself. I like to think that I can play them forever if I want to. The nice thing is that I think that even if STEAM goes out of business some day, I can jailbreak my games through some widely available methods. I refuse to pirate anything, but push come to shove, I sure won't feel bad about playing a game that I purchased, even if it was many years prior.

What games are you playing on your 486? I remember playing the Keen games on mine, as well as Major Striker, ZZT, and Moraf's World to name a few. I still play some of those on an emulator in Windows Vista (there are some really nice virtual machines that run them flawlessly). I have a lot more problems playing late 90s games like Mechwarrior and Mechwarrior II. I'm seriously thinking about buying an old P2 400mhz computer running Windows 95 just to play those games.

Posted on Feb 13, 2009 6:36:10 AM PST
njpaddy says:
I miss the old FPS games, Heretic, Blood, Rise of the Triad. But the old ones just aren't the same playing on a new pc. Blocky graphics, mostly keyboard (not mouse) controls just make them too difficult to play. Wish some company would redo those old games with today's graphics and mouse controls. I bought a couple old games (like HL1) off Steam when I couldn't get my old disc to install on a new pc. At least they were cheap, and they play.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2009 1:41:47 AM PST
Mark Lahren says:
Nathan,
Yes, there will likely be workarounds if Steam ever folds, but likely those workarounds will be only for the most popular games with large followings. I tend to play and enjoy a lot of games that are considered second rate, and I would likely be one of very few people trying to get them to play. As of yet, it hasn't been a big problem, since most B-rated games don't do the activation thing (although some do). And besides, I'm not enough of a computer guru to figure out all the steps necessary to do it. I've never downloaded a 'crack' in my life, and have no idea where to look for 'good' ones. The whole idea just seems to be too much of a hassle. If it was just one game, I could be talked into it. But for the slew of games I'd be buying, it's just not worth the trouble, or worry. Then there's the whole secondary market thing.

As far as what I play on my 486, there are many. But at the moment, I'm just running a few: "Frontier: Elite 2" and "First Encounters", "Microsoft Space Simulator", Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe", (all boxed original versions) and some Wolfenstein clone about a haunted house that I can't think of right now. I actually sent the original developer $35 and he sent me a packet with original floppy disks and the actual paper manual and hint book from France!

I've also still got my Packard Bell P133, a Packard Bell PII 266 (which runs Crusader: No Remorse" beautifully), a Micron Millennium PII 450 (which I had paid over $3,000 brand new) which runs all my VooDoo 2 Glide-based games, An Athlon 1.2 Ghz with an nVidia ti4200, an Athlon XP2600 w/ 7800GT, and my current Dell Core2 Quad 6600 w/9800GT.

Yeah, I've tried emulators, but nothing seems to run the old stuff as well as legacy hardware. Those machines aren't worth anything now except to me, but I'll never sell 'em, and I keep a good stock of new replacement parts around for them all, even though that old 486 is still running the ORIGINAL hard drives I put in back in 1993 with zero bad sectors!

Posted on Feb 14, 2009 2:33:56 AM PST
H.Le says:
Nathan Beauchamp,

Thanks for another informative review. I was concerned that FEAR 2 will fall short of the standard set by its predecessor now that WB got involved.

Concerning STEAM, I agree with you that - like SecuROM's limited activation - it also seems to violate the Fisrt Sales Doctrine. As a matter of fact, I have personal experience with this possible violation when I gave my Sin: Episode 1 to a co-worker, who informed me that STEAM does not transfer key code (unless they officially allow it. eg. HL2 if you buy The Orange Box).

However, I learned to look at STEAM as a gaming service provider, and I think that part of the success of STEAM (vs. the failure of SecuROM) is that it managed to do virtually everything that SecuROM & limited activation set out to do, but unlike SecuROM, it did it WITHOUT insulting a large number of Customers. For this reason alone, even though I am still on the fence about STEAM (I usually wait to buy STEAM games cheap), I still find it more acceptable than SecuROM and limited activations.

Also, I would like to point out that - like any other DRM - STEAM is not 100% piracy proof. Although much more complicated than simply distributing and downloading a torrent, pirate already found a "work around" for STEAM as well. However, beside the fact that cracking STEAM is not easy, I also suspected that one major reason that STEAM games are not widely pirated is because STEAM does not piss off a lot of people.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2009 6:44:33 AM PST
H. Le:

I think your point about Steam not getting pirated because they have some respect for their customers is completely true. I've had good experiences with them over a number of years, including them refunding me in full for a game that I bought that would not work on my computer (still don't know why). Essentially their model allows them to focus on the gaming community instead of making me/us feel like criminals.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2009 5:51:58 PM PST
Mark Lahren says:
So I went to Gamestop today, and looked at the back of Fear 2's box. I very nearly bought it, thinking you must be wrong about Steam being required. I saw no mention of it in the requirements, nor a requirement for an internet connection. Then, I put on my glasses, and there it was, hidden in the middle of the very tiny print amongst the copyright info totally apart from the actual requirements. I just don't get why they don't put it right up there with "System Requirements", since it is in fact a requirement. Sneaky.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2009 7:54:00 PM PST
Mark Lahren:

Game makers are notoriously sneaky. It's sad really.

Posted on Feb 14, 2009 11:37:08 PM PST
RichPowers says:
Nathan,

Thank you for your review and intelligent discussion of Steam's DRM. Glad you mentioned that Steam games can be played in offline mode.

How come people don't get upset when Valve uses Steam for its games? You can play HL2 and Portal offline; same goes for FEAR 2.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 15, 2009 2:02:23 PM PST
K. Orrson says:
What Steam does is remove any resale value of the game.
PC games are $5-10 cheaper because they don't have to pay Microsoft and Sony for console rights.
But you can resell normal PC games and console games.

If I can't resell my PC game, it should be another 10-20 cheaper than the full $50 for a resellable game.
I have bought all the FEAR games and expansions.
But I will not buy this one until the price drops to $20-$25.
Especially since it is so much shorter than the previous Fear Games.

WB can afford a price cut, since Steam should be stopping piracy and resulting in more sales and therefore a lower price. $50 games with Steam are out of touch with economic reality especially with a recession and people losing jobs and taking pay cuts.
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