A major ingredient in horror videogames and movies is nonsense. All horror plots need some creepy images, lots of blood, spooky sound effects, and a double-barreled dose of manic plot gibberish. I guess the thinking is that plots that don’t make sense are inherently more disturbing than those with internal consistency, tied up subplots, and a clear timeline. Sort of like adding Tim Burton-styled crooked doors and windows to a scene, the chaos is “scarier”. I don’t buy it, but it’s a staple of the medium and not likely to change anytime soon.
Still, I can’t help but gnaw on the plot for a bit and see if I can’t hammer it into some sort of coherent shape. This is tough work, since so many plots and ideas were introduced and then dropped.
What was the deal with Paxton Fettel eating his victims? At the start of the game the team psychic states that he’s getting something out of it, but then they never followed up on this idea. He was a man in a hurry, yet he kept stopping to snack on people. That gets time consuming. What was he trying to accomplish? Was this some radical new form of the Atkins diet? Did he like the whole “I’ve been spitting up Gerber Beets Baby Food” look he had going?
Whatever happened to Jankowski? He vanishes during the second Interval (mission) and the game strings you along with a lot of “we’re still looking for Jankowski” messages as you progress. The Delta Force guys with him were flensed by Alma, but his life signs continued after that. You see visions of him as the game goes on. (Which I at first mistook for Paxton Fettel.) Then halfway through the game they stopped talking about him and he was forgotten.
As the game goes on, you uncover evidence of a really strange program intended to create a telepathic commander who can communicate with his troops with his mind, at a distance. The people behind the project got their hands on a very sick, very messed up little psychic girl. They suspected that psychic abilities were passed along by proximity, not genetics. That is, with a powerful enough female psychic, any baby she bore would be telepathic. This worked out, since it let them genetically engineer exactly the sort of man they wanted, put her into a coma, and have her carry the baby to term. They would get their psychic / telepathic commander without worrying about Alma’s mental problems getting passed on as well. Paxton Fettel was a product of this process.
The “surprise” in the game is that you, like Fettel, are an engineered clone carried by Alma. They telegraphed this so heavily that it wasn’t really the facepalm-inducing revelation they might have intended. More frustrating is that the revelation actually created more questions than it answered. It’s not clear why Fettel went nuts and you didn’t, but what is even more unclear is how the two of you ended up on opposite sides of the conflict. Your character is obviously an adult. Where was he for the last twenty years or so while he was “growing up”? How did he end up in F.E.A.R.? Did the other members of the team know about who and what you are? Conversations in the game hint that they probably have no idea, but someone put you on that team, and someone higher up must know who and what you are. The question then is why did they send you in to fight Fettel? They should have been worried that you would go nuts, just like he did. Why did he serve Alma and not you?
And if you’re part of the same project, then where is your battalion of fearless, unquestioning soldiers? Or at least, why do your powers seem so different from the intent of the project?
And finally, what ever happened with the president of Armacam? She obviously opened the bees nest. When some people got stung she elected to give the nest a good, firm poke and then vanished. She’s a major player in the entire affair, and it would have been nice to know what became of her. Did Alma get her? Did she flee the country? Was she hiding in her basement?
Without spoilers, can anyone say if any of these threads appeared in the expansion?
What is Vulkan?
There's a new graphics API in town. What does that mean, and why do we need it?
The Best of 2012
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2012.
Quakecon 2011 Keynote Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Internet News is All Wrong
Why is internet news so bad, why do people prefer celebrity fluff, and how could it be made better?
The product of fandom run unchecked, this novel began as a short story and grew into something of a cult hit.