Sunday, 24 June 2018

Fear Effect Sedna ★★★☆☆


The Fear Effect series divided audiences from the very beginning. The original PSX games were reasonably popular for their time, helped by a sequel which featured adverts focusing on the exploits of the two lesbian protagonists in a voyeuristic manner that would likely cause a mud wrestling promoter to blush. (The advertising campaign for FE2 literally had one straddled atop of the other in their underwear, with the tagline; ‘No one’s surprised this story is capable of thirteen climaxes’.) 
Classy….

On the other hand, the edginess was probably a sign of the times, and the game earned extra notoriety and publicity after annoying pearl-clutches across the US and the UK. Despite the last iteration coming out way back in 2001, it wasn’t difficult to drum up interest in a new game, even if it had to be significantly pared back compared to the originals. A successful Kickstarter campaign raised over €100,000 thanks to over 2500 backers,  ensuring the return of Hana, Rain, Deke and Glas on modern consoles.


Sushee is a smaller studio, and the developers have been quick to stress that Sedna isn't an AAA release like its forebears. That helps to explain the isometric viewpoint, as well as a number of additional limitations in comparison to the older games. Aside from the characters and the setting itself, it’s completely unrecognisable compared the PSX versions. The combat has been revamped to fit the new perspective, so you control your team by exploring areas in a style similar to other isometric titles. 

You’ll be killing off random mooks you find along the way, while there are items to grab and difficult puzzles to solve. The AI isn’t the best in shootouts, (be it friend or foe) but it’s still fun to clear a room by using a combination of grenades and a flamethrower. Each character has special weapons and moves if you’re more interested in the tactical side of things, but enemies will still storm at you mindlessly most of the time. It gets repetitive after a while, and highly frustrating when your allies just aren’t helping during boss fights. This is pretty much the only time I had to use the tactical pause features, to make sure each character was firing on all cylinders. 

Others have complained about the voice acting, which is best described as faithful to the originals. That being said, it has been well received by most backers, who had a clear idea of what they were in for since the beginning. There’s a clear understanding of the source material, causing the anti-heroes to be just as obnoxious as they ever were. The game itself is also steeped in mythology, and there’s a clear purpose to the story at all times.


Overall, there’s a clear tradeoff. Sedna would probably be buried and forgotten within a couple of weeks without the Fear Effect name attached. On the other hand, while most fans would have preferred a full-blooded third instalment, Sedna is certainly better than nothing, and it’s more than a ploy to remove money from wallets by dishing out a large dollop of 2000’s nostalgia. It’s nowhere near perfect, but far from unplayable. 

Final Score: Near Effect!

★★★☆☆
James Millin-Ashmore

Fear Effect at CeX




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