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Fear Effect: Retro Helix 2
Score: 92%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Kronos
Media: CD/4
Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror/ Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
The crisp anime-styled graphics in Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix are truly a treat for the eyes. I often found myself wondering just how good this game would look if it were a PS2 title. The entire game is viewed in a letterbox to give it a true cinematic feel. Scenes flow seemlessly together, from FMV to in-game cinematics to actual gameplay. Each character is nicely detailed and unique and Hana and Rain are just about as hot as videogame chicks get. Eidos certainly does corner the market on interesting female characters. The FMV's were entertaining to watch as they wove the storyline (which is pretty insane and sometimes hard to follow). All of the levels were well done and some were downright beautiful.

In the sound category, Fear Effect 2 excels once again. Voice-overs were terrific and never really felt overdone. Ambient sounds abound and really add to the immersive feel of the game. Of special note were the eerie muffled electronic voices found in the beginning area of the game. Spooky. The music is especially entertaining and fit the mood of each level to a tee. Oriental tunes found towards the end of the game are so peaceful and relaxing I could listen to them for hours. Top notch all the way around.

Ahh, what a strange story we have here. Fear Effect 2 is the pre-cursor to the original Fear Effect and gives some backstory as to how the main characters Hana, Glas and Deke got together. FE2 centers on the relationship of Hana and Rain, partners, friends and lovers. Parents beware. This is not a game for the kiddies as violence and sexual innuendos (and some pretty blatant stuff too) abound. However, if you are an adult and have a sense of humor and like the Resident Evil styled survival horror games, you'll love FE2.

Without giving away too much plot, Hana, Rain, Deke and Glas are all mercenaries of sorts. All pawns in some grand scheme that takes them all over this world and beyond. Gameplay is fairly typical survival horror fare, and you'll play as each of the characters at different times in the game. Each has their own special weapons and you can pull a Metal Gear Solid here with the sneak kill to save on ammo. Sweet. Most enemies drop ammo, so there's rarely a shortage on that. Before you think that you'll be encountering a typical game here (despite what I said earlier), this game definitely takes you on more than one trip to crazyland. At times, characters are forced to relive the past and make amends or face difficult choices. It is very odd, but oh so entertaining. I found myself glued to this game.

There are scads of puzzles throughout Fear Effect 2 - some are ridiculously easy, some are cruelly hard and some make no sense whatsoever. There were points in the game when I had no clue what to do. It wasn't logical what your next step should be. That was one problem with this game. Don't get me wrong, I still love it, but I thought perhaps that was a little silly. However, FE2 is jam-packed with story, action and adventure and is sure to please any fan of these genres.

Sometimes crazy hard. Other times not so hard. Fear Effect 2 is quite a challenge and there are many hours of engrossing gameplay here, so if you aren't afraid of wacky puzzles, some girl-girl action and a whole lotta gunfire, FE2 is for you.

Game Mechanics:
Your characters control in much the same way the characters are controlled in Resident Evil and the like. Sometimes this can be frustrating, but if you are familiar with the genre, it should be no problem whatsoever. The menus are clear and easy to understand, however I found that switching weapons at times was cumbersome. One of the coolest things in the game and one that must be mentioned is the fact that characters can carry two pistols and train the guns on two separate people at a time. Hana is -such- a badass. But I digress.

If you like Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider and bad girls with bad attitudes, go out right now and pick up Fear Effect 2. You won't be disappointed. Chances are, you won't be able to tear yourself away from your PSX for days.

PS2: If you have a PS2, play Fear Effect 2 on it and you'll see tremendous benefits. Sure, the graphics look smoother, but the load time is cut in half! We are talking about a 10 second load time here. Not that 20 seconds is an eternity, but it is quite noticeable to watch that load time bar hit the halfway mark and bam! zip across to the end. A definite plus.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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