Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Five Nights at Freddy's 2 Review

It's me... again...

Three months ago, Five Nights at Freddy's graced the internet and gave everyone in the world a collective heart attack. It came out of nowhere, left players absolutely defenseless, and made them weep and cry over murderous animatronics. We're still talking about it to this day, which says a lot about the lasting power that the game had in a year filled with general disdain and controversy for video games. And now we have the sequel being released not even three months away from the original's release. Indeed, Five Nights at Freddy's 2 is much more challenging and dynamic in comparison to the original, but that doesn't make it better.

For the past few weeks, we've been talking about video game sequels and how to do a sequel right. A good sequel, like Super Smash Bros Wii U and Bayonetta 2, doesn't change the core formula of the series and instead puts a focus on polishing what is already there, effectively making a better game than the original. A subpar sequel, like Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, adds new features to the game, but they're usually unpolished an interfere with the core gameplay of the original that made it so great to begin with. Five Nights at Freddy's 2 falls into the latter category, adding new mechanics to the series that try to make it more difficult and challenging, but instead ruin the horror of the series.

So while the the plot is almost exactly the same (You're a security guard working the night shift at Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria where all of the animatronics want you dead), what makes this game different? Literally everything else. While there are more animatronics, six more to be exact, you also have unlimited power, flashlight battery, a hallway in front of you, no doors, and your only protection being a Freddy Fazbear mask. That's right, all of the animatronics can just walk up to you and stare right into your face, and the only way to save yourself is to put on a Freddy mask and pretend that you're one of them. In theory, that should make for a more intense horror experience, having the murderous animatronics get right up to your face. Instead, it just brings frustration to the whole game.

So what do I mean by the game being frustrating. Simple; the game is hard. This is a very, very hard game. And because it is so hard, it loses all of its scares and fear factor. If you're playing one of the five nights for the first time, you're probably filled with anticipation and eager to see what the night has to offer you. However, because of how hard the game is, you'll die constantly. To make matters worse, every time you die, the game will have one of the animatronics kill you via a jump scare. So imagine if you will, playing the game all by yourself, trying to complete night 4, only to have animatronics jump out and go "BOO!", kill you, and force you to restart the whole night. Every. Single. Time. That's not scary, that's tedious. This game is very tedious.

Part of the difficulty spike has to do with the plethora of new animatronics you have to watch out for. All of the old animatronics return, but now you have to deal with toy versions of them, which look look plastic dolls. If dolls freak you out,  these guys will make you scream for dear life, but I don't find them scary. I find them goofy. The original animatronics were perfectly in an uncanny valley territory with me. When I saw them, they look unnatural and made me uncomfertable to stare at them. These guys just look silly and not at all terrifying like their older siblings. The only animatronic I do like out of the bunch is the new Foxy, who is called "The Mangle". Mangle is a toy Foxy head attached to a complete mechanically abomination that creeps along ceilings and looks broken beyond repair. Mangle just looks plain disturbing and having him creep along ceiling, a place where you normally can't see in cameras, make for a truly terrifying foe. 

And then you have the puppet. That freaking puppet. I have a love hate relationship with one of the new animatronics, a puppet that lives in a music box. You see, you cannot stop the puppet if he gets out. If the puppet leaves his music box, he will kill you instantly. There is no way to protect yourself from the puppet EXCEPT to keep his music box wound. In one room, there is a music box that needs to constantly be wound up in order to keep the puppet from getting out. However, that means you have to constantly be going back to the room to wind up the music box, even if there's an animatronic standing right in front of you. So what do you do? Deal with the animatronic in front of you first and hope to God that the music box doesn't stop, or go wind up the music box and pray to God that the animatronic doesn't kill you. You'll have to pray to God a lot in this game to win. 

In theory, the puppet is a great new addition to the formula. Instead of just sitting around in your office hoping to survive, you now have a legitimate reason to check the cameras later in the game, making the game that much more difficult. Now it's either wind up the music box, or die. If it was just that, then the game would have been great. You could have included a new animatronic or two, but you didn't need six new ones. By having too many of them running around, it becomes even more frustrating to protect yourself, and God help you in Golden Freddy randomly spawns to instantly kill you. It's like trying to juggle too many balls at the same time and the slightest mistake will make you fail and start all over again. 

That's not even getting into how pointless and disappointing the promise of "no doors" are in this game. The biggest selling point was that you had no where to hide and had to face the animatronics head on. However, now that you have no doors, the Freddy mask serves as your only protection, which means your power supply from the first game has been completely removed. With the removal of that, you also remove the one thing that made the original game to scary; limited power. You could sit in your office in the first game, but every action you did had the consequence of draining power from your supply. So every action had weight behind it. Do you want to play it risky or play it safe? Even if you did play it safe and hid behind your steel doors, how long could you do that before your power completely drained? Every action you did was scary and put an immense amount of pressure and stress on you, making the scares even more effective. 

In Five Nights at Freddy's 2, with the removal of the power supply, you can do whatever you want now. You can put on your mask to save you whenever and check to music box whenever you like. All of the pressure and stress has been somewhat alleviated because now you have control, and control should be the last thing a player has in a horror game. The player should be subjected to the game's tricks and traps, unable to ever defend themselves properly and even when they do defend themselves, there's the dread that they defend themselves forever. That's why some of the best horror games out there limit the player's sense of control and abilities. The weaker you are, the easier you are to be scared. The stronger you are, the harder it is to scare you. FNaF2 gives the player too much control to fight against too many threats at the same time. It isn't a true horror game anymore; it's a management game. 

And so here I am, giving a negative review to a game that I should love. I loved the original Five Nights at Freddy's and recommend it to all of my friends if they're looking for a good horror game. But while I may not like Five Nights at Freddy's 2, I understand why some people love it. Some people may not mind the new difficulty spikes and all of the new animatronics, and they may be ecstatic that the power supply is gone. It all comes down to personal perspective, and I fully admit that this is just my usual negative self talking here. 

Again, this isn't a bad game, but this isn't the game that should have followed Five Nights at Freddy's. If this is going to be a series, the next game needs to tone back on the difficulty and make it smaller, more concise, more personal. Have a small amount of animatronics, but make it so that they will counter your strategies. Make them smarter and make you weaker. And while we're at it, take more than three months to make Five Nights at Freddy's 3. Trust me, we'll be patient for the next installment to scare the shit right out of us. As long as it's polished and good, we'll wait for it. 


Can I have a Freddy Fazbear stuffed animal? I would love you for life if you got me one. 

No comments:

Post a Comment