After inadvertently insulting the community manager for F.E.A.R. 2 at E3, he -- for whatever reason -- added me to the mailing list for all further updates on the game. I've been on lists like this before, and (at least, in my experience) it's typically as boring as it sounds: the developer bothers me with press releases once every few months leading up to the game's release to get me excited for the inevitable review copy, until the release day finally comes and they suddenly decide not to send me a review copy after all (presumably having realized who I am).
With F.E.A.R. 2, though, things were slightly different. This weekend, I received a manila envelope in the mail, with no return address, with my name misspelled on the front (that, or someone named Anthony Birch is going to be really angry to read I got his package by mistake). The envelope included three equally confusing items: a handwritten note, a DVD, and a small key.
Curious, but fully realizing that my curiosity was all part of some orchestrated PR plan simultaneously designed to further advertise F.E.A.R. 2 and turn me into its marketing representative, I closely examined the contents of the parcel. I found slightly more than I expected to.
Hit the jump for more.
The handwritten note explained: "Anthony -- Watch the DVD. It explains everything."
So I did.
And it didn't.
The DVD included a single QuickTime file, labeled "Anthony." Upon double-clicking it, I was greeted by a video of a shadowed face with a distorted voice, speaking into the camera in hushed tones. He said something about the previous information I received (an in-character psychic ability survey from the Armacham Corporation I was sent a week earlier, seen below) being some sort of trap, that I was in danger, and all those other neat things you invariably get told when you're part of a national Alternate Reality Game-cum-viral marketing gimmick.
Then, he told me something mildly surprising: the address of a storage facility a few streets away from my house. He told me to take the key to the storage facility and retrieve a case that had been left for me. After getting the case, I was meant to post about my experience and I would be given a code to unlock it. The marketing savvy on display was impossible to ignore: my childish hopefulness and curiosity would lead me to go get a locked case, and that same hopefulness and curiosity would force me to give F.E.A.R. 2 more press in order to open the damn thing.
After spending about fifteen minutes trying to figure out how Monolith planted a suitcase less than a mile away from my home (I'm still not entirely sure how, and it's been irritating my dad since Saturday), I got Ashley Davis and Ash Burch to follow me to the facility as rape protection.*
We arrived at the storage center and, after using the code supplied by the letter, we managed to get into the specific section our case was being held in. As we approached container #301, I felt something like apprehension. Whatever lay inside the container would either be really lame and underwhelming, or would be so neat that I'd have to blog about it and thus become part of the massive Warner Bros. marketing machine.
My curiosity overwhelmed my pretend dignity, though, and after walking through a wonderfully shady hallway, I opened storage room #301.
True to Monolith's word, there was a metal case inside, closed with a combination lock. I didn't know what I was expecting, but the fact that there was an actual metal case (and a cool-looking one, at that) sitting in an actual storage facility near my home made me feel like a little kid on a treasure hunt. Only this time, there was some sort of actual treasure.
Ash reacted to the find as one would expect her to.
Case in hand, we went home. I had a basic idea of what I was supposed to do: I'd stare at the case for a few days, make the post you're reading right now, and would get a combination to open the case a few days later.
Like everyone else in the history of the world who happened to be in possession of a combo-locked suitcase they can't open, I spent about fifteen minutes randomly twiddling with the numbers to see if I could guess the right combination solely out of luck.
I wondered what was in the case. It couldn't be a review copy of the game. The release date is too far off for them to send me a review copy two months early -- and barring that, why would they want to make it difficult for me to review their game, anyway? It couldn't be a copy of the first game, unless they really wanted to waste my time. More likely than not, the case probably just held another clue, which would lead to another clue, which would lead to another clue until the game's eventual release.
I threw the case onto my bed after irritatedly shaking it back and forth a few times in an attempt to divine its contents. I sighed heavily, wore Ashley's hat for a while, and took a nap.
After I woke up, I went to my friend Grant's house and he pried open the suitcase with a screwdriver.
*And by "protection," I mean "bait." If someone had managed to fake Monolith credentials and was really luring me into some sort of rape/mugging trap, I presumed that they'd find at least one of the Ashl(e)ys preferable to me, thus giving me the necessary time to escape and maybe call the cops if I felt like it.