It’s criminal that one of the best first-person shooters of all-time has largely been forgotten about, but a couple of sequels that didn’t quite hit the mark probably didn’t help. That game is, of course, F.E.A.R., a high-octane first-person shooter with supernatural elements. Putting you in control of Point Man, who inexplicably could slow down time, F.E.A.R. had you entering a mysterious facility to take down an army of soldiers which had taken it over. Along the way, a slew of horrifying events hinted that perhaps there was more toe everything than meets the eye. If you haven’t played it you should definitely give it a try, though it looks a little dated now. Or what you could do is play Trepang2.
It would seem that Trepang2 is the closest thing to a new F.E.A.R. game we’re going to get. It has no connections to F.E.A.R. in any way, but it’s obvious within minutes of playing it that it’s heavily inspired by the classic shooter developed by Monolith Productions. But Trepang2 is developed by Trepang Studios. And while the number two at the end of its title may suggest this is a sequel, it’s not. At least not in the traditional sense. There is a Trepang, but you won’t find it anywhere for sale, and it’s totally unrelated to this game.
Like in F.E.A.R., Trepang2 puts you in the shoes of a protagonist with extraordinary powers. Held captive in an unknown location, you’re given the chance to break free and you take it. What follows is rampage of violence as you exact revenge on your captors – a team of elite soldiers – and find out more about what’s going on. You’re a true force of destruction, able to conceal yourself for a short period of time to sneak past or get the upper hand on enemies. What’s more fun, though, is slowing down time to take down a whole squad of them without a fuss, covering the area with blood and guts.
In play, this really does look and feel like F.E.A.R. The locations, including warehouses and offices, give off the same atmosphere, your enemies actively move to get better positions and cry out when they lose limbs in a similar manner, and even the exaggerated special effects when you hit armour and bits of the scenery are familiar. If it wasn’t for the fact that the F.E.A.R. series is effectively dead at this point, we’d call Trepang2 out for its borrowing of… well, everything. But given how things are, we’re glad this this is pretty much a carbon copy.
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One area where Trepang2 does differentiate itself from F.E.A.R. is its structure. Eventually you happen upon an area that serves as a hub. From there, you can choose to play through the game’s main missions, or take on a number of side missions. It’s nice to have some freedom, and the side missions pad out the running time, which would otherwise be rather short indeed. Not that we mind too much. We’d rather have a short but entertaining game that draws us back in multiple times than one that feels drawn out.
There are also some fun gameplay elements that give Trepang2 a little bit more variety than the game it’s so heavily inspired by. Without spoiling anything, there’s greater enemy variety, for example, with more than just soldiers to overcome. And sometimes you might have to do more than just point and shoot to complete objectives. Needless to say, there are some surprises in store, and some very hair-raising scenarios.
In terms of complaints, we don’t have many. There’s controller support, but it’s not quite as tight as we’d like; your character just doesn’t move in all directions with the same momentum which makes it feel awkward at times. It’s still very playable with a controller though. Other than that, there’s an occasional hint of scrappiness, but with this game being made by a small indie team, it’s impressive that it feels so polished in general.
If you’re a F.E.A.R. fan, Trepang2 is a game that you should definitely invest some money and time in. It’s also a game for those who simply love hardcore first-person shooters. Your considerable arsenal here is enhanced by your supernatural abilities, and with other moves up your sleeves – such as a slide that can send your foes flying and a powerful punch – you can have so much fun running rings around your enemies and dismembering them in gloriously gory fashion. This may not be F.E.A.R., but it sure as hell scratches the same itch.