Sandwiched between the resurgence of old school shooters and the Call of Duty clones that cluttered the past decade, there’s a somewhat empty spot occupied by Monolith Productions‘ F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon, but that’s a mouthful).
The creators of Blood and Shogo wanted to make something new, and in the process of doing so, ended up creating a shooter that acted as a perfect bridge between the fast paced action of the Doom golden age and more methodical, story based adventures inspired by Half-Life. Throw in great AI (and the whole system of squad barks that enhanced the illusion that you were facing competent soldiers working together to achieve their goal), a truly destructive shotgun, and a great slow-mo mechanic and you’ve got a winner. Sadly, F.E.A.R. never got the sequels it deserved (I did enjoy certain aspects of the 2nd game, but it never got to the highs of the original, and the third one is just a travesty).
Considering that Monolith hasn’t returned to the F.E.A.R. universe since the release of Project Origin back in 2009, there’s a pretty high chance that an official continuation with the same awesome mechanics isn’t coming anytime soon. So why not settle for a spiritual successor? Enter Trepang2 (placeholder name), an impressive project created by an independent team using Unreal Engine 4 and a lot of passion for good shooters. Trepang Studios have recently released a free demo which includes the prologue to the game’s single player story campaign and a horde mode with unlockable cheats that can make us spend quite a bit of time with this demonstration version.
Having completed both the available story level and the 30 waves horde mode, I have to say that I’m quite impressed with the quality of Trepang2, as it not only fully captures the essence of the combat in F.E.A.R. (though I’m not a fan of the restrictive two weapons limit), but it also seems to have a firm grasp on the horror elements present in Monolith‘s excellent shooter. The AI is also quite good at creating the illusion that the player is facing a trained military unit that’s working together to take them down, and the shotgun is great at removing limbs and causing fear and confusion in the enemy lines every time it fires. There are some rough spots, but overall, this is a demo well worth experiencing if you are a F.E.A.R. fan that has been patiently hoping for something that can scratch that very specific itch.
Steam store page: Trepang2
Developer’s website: Trepang Studios