Monolith returns to battle the supernatural forces in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. Picking up after the first game players jump back into the world of Alma to fight for survival and learn the secrets that are locked deep within.
'F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin' builds on the foundation created by the original game. Solidifying its presence with a strong attention to atmosphere, fast action, and special effects; long time FPS developer 'Monolith' does an superb job picking up the pieces. 'Project Origin' doesn’t step to far away from F.E.A.R.'s roots, providing a solid experience that is closely knitted with the original.
For those unfamiliar with the first game you don’t have to worry about being lost jumping into the action in #2. F.E.A.R. 2 can be enjoyed without knowing too much about the back story or events that happened its predecessor. So either coming into F.E.A.R. 2 as a stand-alone game, or follow-up with the events from the first, one thing is clear, F.E.A.R. 2 brings the fear! Although, to give you a heads up, that little spooky looking girl on the box art named Alma, who shares a strong resemblance to Samara (The Ring-film,) is one messed up paranormal entity who will lead the player through a virtual killing spree. Alma is more than warped, making her the perfect videogame villian to move the plot forward, and Monolith takes advantage of her creepy demeanor every chance they get.
In the game, 'Project Origin' trades off between straight forward blasting and atmospheric spooky ambience. F.E.A.R. 2 blends elements from traditional Japanese horror films with a more polish militaristic Western approach to make a strong story that coexists with the fast-paced action. This is F.E.A.R. 2 greatest accomplishment, beyond the slow motion shotgun blasts and creepy creatures.
Your character through this supernatural mix up is 'Delta Force' mercenary Michael Becket. Becket, whom Alma takes a strange attraction too pushes him through the plot, and without spoiling too much, Becket encounters some "interesting/terrifying" situations, including his own body being poked and prodded like an animal. Even though Becket is under a great deal of stress, he can still handle a weapon or two, and F.E.A.R. 2 has a wonderful selections of weapons. Some new and some returning, 11 instruments of death are unlocked. This includes the standards (sniper rifle, shotgun, assault rifle, etc...) to more treasured weapons like a flamethrower, nail gun, laser rifle. As far as shooters go, F.E.A.R. 2`s arsenal does the trick offering up fun options for the player without becoming too outlandish.
The opposition in F.E.A.R. 2 mainly features replica foot soldiers; basically mercenaries in different variations of armour. The A.I. does an admirable job using cover and trying to flank you out when rushing the player, however even their realistic behaviour patterns don’t pose much of a threat. Most soldiers can can be easy disposed of and only become a threat when the heavily armoured soldiers come out, or they out the cloaked assassins use surprise tactics. The soliders also have access to most of the weapons your character does, so the battlefield is a fairly even game. The A. I. has also been given routines that make them react realistically in different situations. This is mainly showcased when you let a lot of them on fire and watch how they react to being turned into a human sish-kabob.
Tilting the odds towards Becket, he has been given the ability to slow down time with a single button press when gets in trouble. Slowing down time is a necessity in F.E.A.R. and even though it’s a little overused, it is still fun in this supernatural setting. Even with one special power controlling Becket still feels like the average Joe. Fighting against the supernatural forces always has that "anything can happen" feeling even when your backed up with your team. F.E.A.R. 2 plays heavily on the unexplainable and abnormal along with the outnumbering odds of defeating a threat like Alma.
What helps F.E.A.R. 2 keep the momentum of the game moving forward are the locations. In general they are kept mainly to hall walls and a few wide open outdoor environments. When you wrapped up following a glowing entity through the halls of an war-tarnished school, F.E.A.R. 2 gets your natural adrenaline pumping with its mysteriously strange surprises. This is when F.E.A.R. 2 starts to excel. It’s not against those animated soldiers, it’s the bizarre mutated creatures, and zombie like businessmen that crank things up a notch. Two thirds into the game you really start to get into F.E.A.R. 2 and it holds you firm until its gripping and tantalizing end chapter.
Monolith has tried to add a few new innovations that unfortunately fizzle out with the desiered effect. First off, F.E.A.R. 2 introduces a cover mechanic in the game that can utilized with the majority of objects in the world. This means you can jump behind a table, flip it over and use it as cover. This adds a small touch of dynamics to the combat, but ultimately it fails to have an impact. I used the cover mechanics a few times during my battles, however I never needed the covers help. I did better to fight the enemy head-on using the typical wall/strafe/flank approach. The use of cover would have greatly benefited by a more destructible environments like 'Battlefield Bad Company', otherwise it’s a little silly when a wooden table can handle an onslaught of machinegun bullets and still hold up.
The other main switch up in F.E.A.R. 2 is a mini-mech aspect that allows you to jump into a mechanical mech suit and cause some big damage. While cool in the concept, the mech lacks the awesome feeling of power you would expect. Secondly, piloting the mech feels totally unnecessary given the games plot. Sure, it's fun for a few minutes, but dragging something like that one doesn’t do much and in the end comes off feeling a little contrived. I’m all up for the slow-mo, but mechs I have say no-no. Thankfully, Monolith doesn’t take try to up the game in another directions that could have hurt the end results. Like 'Condemned,' F.E.A.R. 2 is best when its kept to the core features that made it a hit in the first place.
F.E.A.R. 2 also has a multiplayer component added into the mix which seems more like a vanilla after thought. It is your basically multiplayer modes that would expect minus the creepy overtones that makes F.E.A.R. 2 a hit. It’s nice to have a few gun-blazing multiplayer modes, but we can load up another game for this. If Monolith wasn’t going to go for something a little more original in the multiplayer, I think they could have left the multiplayer mode out of F.E.A.R. 2. Not too many gamers are going to stick with the multiplayer for too long. It’s not overly bad, it’s just too traditional, bare-bones, and a little bit laggy with lots of gamers online.
For the graphics and audio production in F.E.A.R. 2 we are dealing with sharp and crisp game. Both the audio and graphics share similar qualities and a high level of production that showcase the interesting unique setting the game provides. The extras are what keeps the gamer interested and F.E.A.R. 2 has an over abundance of cool lighting effects, particle tricks, creepy sounds, all mixed on top of sharp crystal clear visuals and a droning backing loop of suspense. The physics system is very adequate and the level design follows suit with some nice multi-levelled puzzle like environments that will keep you on your toes. I would call F.E.A.R. 2 the best looking game on the next-generation systems, but it definitely holds its own. The same goes for the horrifically good soundtrack that turns up the heat when it needs too. F.E.A.R. 2 really couldn’t be called F.E.A.R. if Monolith didn’t do such as sensational job on the audio production.
Gamers who enjoyed Alma’s hell raising antics in the original F.E.A.R. will find what they are looking for in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. F.E.A.R. 2's spooky atmosphere and supernatural presence makes it an excellent alternative to the majority of “war-like” shooters. While F.E.A.R. 2 isn’t the most original in its core shooter gameplay, it makes up for any short comings with an interesting storyline, fast action and a wonderfully crafted "horrific" atmosphere. F.E.A.R. fans you can safely purchase this one and take on Alma one more time, and for all the newbies, 'F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origin' is a solid shooter that will likely have you engaged from the minute your start to its twisted ending.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 02.23.09