F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
That Monolith know how to make a shooter or to create a horror atmosphere isn’t in doubt for a long time anymore. The first F.E.A.R. as well as Condemned have proven their capabilities but the question remains how good they are at innovating their own games? Condemned 2 was a lot less memorable than its predecessor and also F.E.A.R. 2 won’t go into history as a classic. But on the other hand that might not be necessary.
With the subtitle Project Origin we already get at first the last half hour of the previous game on our dish, this time while playing as Michael Beckett. Then things move on from where they ended in the first F.E.A.R. which also means that the mediocre expansions are easily forgotten. What will rejoice the fans is that the story has been worked out a lot better if you want to immerse yourself in it. Just like with f.i. Bioshock you can find out some background info through papers or objects that are present all over. Thanks to this you find out more about Alma (the freaky girl) became so freaky (Project Origin, remember?) and get to immerse yourself even more in her still terrifying appearances.
She’ll still scare you to death in a way we know from Japanese genre movies like The Ring and The Grudge, which is both a strength and a weakness for the game. Little girls with long black hair are well-known by now so it isn’t all that surprising anymore. It does remain one of the few FPSs that tries to put horror elements throughout the game. No matter which way you lean, if you’re sensitive it’s best to leave the light on and send your grandma away when you’ve put your surround system’s volume open.
Also the gameplay remains faithful to what we know from the series. It’s still all about spectacular gunfire that gets even better when you activate the omnipresent bullet-time. The latter gets constantly replenished and that’s a good thing too as when you’ve slowed down time you’ve got a better chance to beat the great AI and use your entire arsenal of weapons. Shotguns, assault rifles, even laserguns… no lack of deadly gear! On top of that, firing all this stuff feels nice and tight so that you’re never left sitting on your hunger. We would have liked some more objects that can be destroyed in the neighborhoor (like tables that are used for cover) as this would have increased the intensity even more.
Those that want some variation besides the usual shooting get that chance thanks to the armoured suits. These make you almost a hulk but one with machine guns and rockets to kick ass with for a short period of time. Quite good as a go-between.
Unfortunate on the other hand is that the levels themselves still disappoint a bit. Contrary to the previous time you’re not running around in office buildings all the time as also a school, lab, hotel and a hospital pass by but eventhough they’re a bit more varied they’re still not all that inspired. They’re also quite linear so don’t expect many surprising side ways or the possibility to be creative with the opponents. You don’t notice that only due to the fact that you’ll constantly running forward, but also because hostiles will rarely surprise you. A missed chance to bring the series to the level of true classics in the genre.
There’s much but also little to say about the multiplayer. Everything works but it’s not really addictive which means that I think everyone will test it but will quickly resort back to Call of Duty 4 or on the PS3 probably to Killzone 2. Compared to the latter the graphics come very close by the way. Sharp textures, beautiful effects during the shoot-outs (especially when everything is going in slow-mo) and also the models of weapons and opponents (although not many different ones) are very detailed. The sound is equally good and can easily be counted with the best in the genre, something that’s good for a horrorshooter. A 5.1 setup will immerse you even more: those that still don’t have speakers behind their sofa should really make that investment.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is a very good shooter that manages to combine immersive FPS action with horror elements and an improved storyline. However, there’s little replayability and the multiplayer probably won’t manage to keep you interested for long. An ideal game for those that like short but powerful single player experiences that are beautifully created and which will especially please the hardcore shooter fans.