The original F.E.A.R. was one of the most acclaimed PC shooters of the year when it was released, a game with jaw-dropping graphics, a mind-bending plot and enemies so intelligent that you’d have sworn they were controlled by humans, not the computer. A few less-than-impressive expansions later, and the brand seemed to be slipping. Fortunately Warner Bros. Interactive has put the original Monolith development team back on the case to take gamers on another (head) trip down Alma lane. The result, while not quite as groundbreaking as the original, is a stark reminder that the expansions were aberrations for an otherwise strong series, and validation that F.E.A.R. can be more than just a hallway shooter.
In F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is the true sequel gamers have wanted for years, albeit in more of a “parallel plot” sense than a true sequel. As Sgt. Michael Becket, players enter the F.E.A.R. world half an hour before the massive explosion in the original game. Having barely survived, Becket has experimental surgery done on him, but he’s not exactly who performed it, let alone why. So, guess what mysteries Becket tries to figure out during the course of the game? Oh, and while being hunted by Replica soldiers and mind-bending visions of Alma, no less.
The gunplay is as tight as you remember from the original F.E.A.R., with the slow-motion move in full effect and all manner of weapon with which to disperse your enemies. The environments are a bit more diverse this time around, which is a very nice change from the “gray hallway, wash, rinse and repeat” model from the original game, and there are even a few gameplay surprises, such as being in wide-open areas that allow the use of a sniper rifle and the ability to pilot a nigh-indestructible Power Mech. Yes, a Mech.
However, the game’s not without fault. The slow-motion feature in the first F.E.A.R. seemed to be more of a gimmick to show off the graphics and a minor crutch used to beat the crazy-hard AI. However, that same ability in F.E.A.R. 2 recharges faster, which makes slow-motion in Project Origin easily abused. How easily? Let’s just say that there’s one enemy in the game smart enough to flip items over for cover and powerful enough to take you down quickly, but if you simply listen for its musical cue before activating slow motion you can breeze through it with ease. Couple that with wave after wave of the same faceless soldiers, and the gameplay can get somewhat repetitive after a few levels of the 10-hour game.
Even with these slipups, though, F.E.A.R. 2 still provides an entertaining ride that packs a few gotcha moments with Alma under its hood. The graphics are good too, and in the vein of classic horror films, the sound effects are second to none. However, without that crazy old Alma peeking her head in from time to time, Project Origin is really like every other first-person shooter out there — but without multiplayer.
- Score: 8