Fear Alma – again. F.E.A.R., the seminal classic shooter, revitalised a tired FPS genre with a great mix of horror, gunplay and Matrix style slow-motion action sequences that proved a huge amount of fun. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin returns to the same formula, and doesn’t really differ too much. However, more of the same means more fun.
The sequel to the original game kicks off just before the original game ends, i.e. prior to the massive explosion triggered by the release of Alma (a girl raised to be a biological weapon used to produce ‘replica’ soldiers) and her crazy powers. The player takes the role of Sgt. Michael Becket, a member of a special task force sent in to rescue Genevieve Aristide – President of the corporation responsible for the replica soldiers and Alma herself. Luckily, quite early in, Becket receives the same power as the ‘Pointman’ from the original game, meaning that he too can slow down time (or rather his super reactions kick in) to take out enemy forces.
There’s no doubt that F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin looks great. The environments, whilst at times looking quite similar, are very well rendered with a great level of detail. Textures are good and enemies are particularly well animated (check out how they try to vault walls and react when you shoot them). Perhaps the real visual treats come in the form of Alma and the other ghost encounters. Frequently disorienting, you’ll be amazed at the variety of effects used.
A true highlight of the game, there’s nothing quite like the ghostly sounds of Alma, the announcements by soldiers giving you a heads up on the plan or hearing the dreaded “I see a flashlight!”. All of the incidental stuff really does add to the game and it serves to really show what a quality package the whole game is.
I’m still undecided on how I feel about the mood of the game. There are some particularly tense moments provided by the horror atmosphere. However, it can be quite jarring to go from this to an action-packed encounter when you’re piloting a mech. It isn’t Dead Space, but at times it seems like it wants to be. When it does get it right, it’s fantastic, but at other times it does appear to be a little schizophrenic.
Ah, the most important element to any game – and F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin does not disappoint. The gunplay is very, very satisfying indeed. Only perhaps Black served up much destruction when using automatic weapons. Moving to the guns, there’s a lot to play with in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, from lasers to shotguns and everything in between.
The other aspect to the game that is more supportive of the horror storyline are the continuing encounters with Alma. They’ll frequently pop up in the game and you’ll have to either interact with a sequence or face a button mash to stop yourself from being ‘merged’. These quick time action sequences are nothing new but sit quite well with the game as a whole.
My favourite addition to the gameplay definitely comes in the action areas where you get to pilot a powered armour suit. The amount of destruction you can wreak is simply superb. There are a lot of destructible environments in the game and you’ll love the unlimited chaingun ammo and rechargeable missiles.
The single player part of the game is quite well plotted with a varied range of enemies to tackle (including Alma herself). The multiplayer modes are somewhat limited but nonetheless reasonably fun. I’m convinced it’ll find some fans out there.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is an impressive achievement by Monolith – though given their previous pedigree of games I didn’t expect anything less. The story will keep you interested, the horror sections will make the hairs on the back of your neck stands up and the action sequences will make your blood pump. What more could you ask for from a game? It provides a heady, intoxicating mix with a lot of brilliant set pieces.
Those who are looking for lots of free-form, open gameplay should look elsewhere, but those seeking a superb action title with a nice line in horror and some truly awesome set pieces should go out and buy immediately. A worthy sequel to the original game? Hell yes. Monolith… You’ve done it. I F.E.A.R. Alma – again.
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, PC