There's been good news recently. "Sequels" to FEAR have been announced! There are a few reasons this is good. The first is the obvious one: I liked FEAR as a game itself and I'm glad we'll get to play more of it. FEAR wasn't one of those games that just seemed to be so done when I finished it that I felt like it shouldn't have a sequel, and it also wasn't one of those games that devoted its entire ending to setting up the inevitable sequel. So this news is a pleasant surprise.

I'm kind of more glad to hear this news for a different reason, though. The FEAR community never really took off, as far as I could tell. I don't think very many people play it online at this point, and the mapping/modding community doesn't seem to be too expansive. Of course, the volume of quality user content actually released for even a game like Half-Life 2 is sometimes surprisingly slight. In any case, FEAR seemingly assumed the attitude of a ~pick it up, play it, put it down, forget it~ kind of experience, which of course makes anyone interested in mapping or modding scared, since the less user interest there is, the less reason the dev team has to support the tools and community instead of moving on to their next commercial project full-time. That Monolith is sticking with FEAR for now is a good thing

Considering that the FEAR sequel(s) have been announced less than six months after the initial release of the game, I'm going to draw a couple of assumptions:

1) FEAR's followup is already in development, and will be released relatively quickly. Depending on the project, a new game can be announced anywhere from 9 months to 5 years before it's released. But when the sequel to a successful FPS built on a time-tested engine is announced five months after the original game hits stores, I somehow get the feeling we won't be waiting half a decade for this one. I wouldn't be surprised (and would be very happy) if FEAR's followup dropped before the end of 2K6.

2) It will be created using the same toolset and engine as the first game in the series. This goes hand-in-hand with assumption 1 above. It's just too soon, and the existing engine is just so viable, that I can't imagine Monolith using anything but a slightly modified/refined version of the same tools to create the FEAR followup. This is what all the 'good news' stuff above is about.

3) Here's where I start reaching, but it'd be cool if I were right. The news story linked above points out that FEAR won't be published by Vivendi anymore (hence the name change.) Further,both the newswriter and Monolith representative refer repeatedly to "sequels" to FEAR. The original game introduced us to a paramilitary team that investigated paranormal activity, and showed us one of their missions. I am hoping that the lack of tradtional publisher, allusion to "sequels" in the plural, and a perfect TV-series-like scenario setup will all culminate in the followups to FEAR being released as short-form, downloadable, episodic content. I'm picturing a somewhat X-Files-like deal, where each FEAR episode introduces the player to a new paranormal threat, and shows the FEAR team tackle it, followed by a tidy conclusion, and a preview for the next episode. I would love this because I think FEAR is great, I'm in love with the idea of direct-download episodic content for PC games, and it would serve to extend the relevance and appeal of FEAR to its fanbase even further, making mapping and modding for the game a more fruitful exercise.

Fingers crossed!

No comments: