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F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin review



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F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
  • F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin


Our Score:


Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC - PlayStation 3 version reviewed

I really, really want to love F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. In many ways, it's a perfect sequel, taking all the things we loved about F.E.A.R, fixing many of the aspects that we didn't and adding new features and an extra layer of visual polish to enhance the whole experience. Unfortunately, it's not the sort of game that inspires such a strong emotional response. It's a likeable game and frequently enjoyable. It's a sequel that fans of F.E.A.R. can buy without too much concern. All the same, it's hard not to feel slightly disappointed. Maybe it's not Project Origin at fault - maybe it's us. We've been spoilt in the last three plus years by wave after wave of Schwarzenegger-sized first-person-shooters, and when F.E.A.R. 2 wades out it's a bit more Dolph Lungdren or Jean Claude Van-Damme.

If you played F.E.A.R., the elements of the sequel will be instantly familiar. The storyline frames the action of the original game, opening in parallel with the final act of F.E.A.R. then moving on to cover what happens next. As an all new special forces operative, Becket, you find yourself caught in the crossfire between the forces of the evil weapons corporation, Armacham, and the unleashed supernatural powers of its ghostly creation, the spooky Alma. Combat is still the main order of the day, whether Becket is pitted against Armacham troops or Replica soldiers under Alma's psychic control. Once again the game's first major selling point is its reliance on a cool slow-motion effect, where Becket can trigger a state of heightened speed and awareness in order to carve his way through enemy squads like an electric knife through a particularly rare Sunday roast. And, as in the first game, these bloody, bullet-time encounters are punctuated by weird, scary episodes full of nightmarish imagery and sudden disruptions to Becket's vision and environment. Think John Woo's Hard Boiled meets Hideo Nakata's Ring and you're not too far wide of the mark.

Project Origin does all this stuff, and arguably it does it better than the original game. The nightmare sequences are more varied and the imagery less directly indebted to Japanese horror, and there are still points at which the game successfully makes the scalp tingle with something like fear. Alma - now in adult form - retains her creepiness, and if anything F.E.A.R. 2 is more skilful in its merging of action and supernatural horror than its predecessor, throwing in new elements that successfully bridge the gap between the two genres. Fast-moving, freakish crawling mutants make for a nice change from the normal armoured troops, as do the ghoulish 'puppet-master' creatures who can resurrect nearby corpses and bid them do their deadly will.

Most importantly, however, the central game mechanics are just as much fun as they ever were. For a long time F.E.A.R. was my benchmark for FPS combat, for the simple reason that it pitted you against reasonable numbers of believably intelligent enemies who seemed capable of working together, but gave you a vital tool - slowmo - with which you could even the odds. Any F.E.A.R. player will remember the rhythm of the game. First, the recognition that you're about to face a battle, then the tension as you moved into position. Then came the release, as you triggered the slowmo and began your frenetic dance of bloodshed, blasting one guy here, swivelling to catch another, side-stepping and pivoting to target a third adversary, then leaping over a barrier and twisting to tackle the fourth guy lurking behind it. Then there'd be a moment of controlled panic as you scuttled for cover before the slowmo had worn off, followed by taut suspense as you waited for the slowmo guage to refill. This cycle would repeat until the battle was over, and it was onto the next hostile encounter.


February 16, 2009, 3:01 pm

Good review. I've been playing this over the weekend, I loved the first FEAR, not so much the expansion packs and I'm really enjoying this one too. I'm nearing the end of the single player campaign and it's been a great ride. The thing is, I'm enjoying it (and I'm talking single player only, I never bother with multiplayer) for the reasons submitted as negatives; linear game play, FEAR 1.5. In this day and age where all shooters have to have something new to bring to the FPS party I find it refreshing to have a well presented game with half decent production values which I can just pick up and have some fun shooting some bad guys without having to worry about in-depth mechanics. This is what makes FEAR 2 fun (for me).

I think it looks pretty sharp on the graphics front too (PC version). The textures are pretty high resolution, this is hinted at by the ca. 12Gb install size and you can tell the difference in game.

Minus points from me; An inability to map additional mouse buttons (mouse 4, mouse 5) and the fixed aspect ratio (16:9). This on the PC version.

Anyway - obviously procrastinating at work a little more than usual, good review guys.

Ian Yates

February 16, 2009, 3:45 pm

I completely agree with the review, with one exception: this is exactly the game I wanted.

FEAR is by-far the best executed FPS I know, helped along massively by the clever use of horror aspects; like things darting about in the dark or appearing as you turn around.

The System Shock style of making the story available through notes and phone messages is always fun, as you get the reward for that little bit extra exploration, and the FEAR storyline was great.

FEAR2 might not take that quite as much to the next level as the devs made it sound, but who wasn't expecting their constant chatter to be a lot of hyperbole?

Extraction Point was a massive dissapointment for me, and Project Origin is exactly what I was looking for after 1.

I agree it dragged and the levels were a little claustrophobic; but the level designers play well with those tools by using the nightmare/paranormal aspects and ambushes to keep you guessing.


February 16, 2009, 5:48 pm

I'm glad you're enjoying the game, and your points are completely valid. All the same, I think you both fit into the group that I talked about in the last paragraph: those who were happy with FEAR 1 and simply want the same experience with a few enhancements. There's no question in my mind that FEAR 2 delivers on this, but - personally - it didn't hit me with the same tension or adrenaline as, say, Killzone 2 or Gears of War 2 in recent months. It's a good game; I just think it should have been a great one.

simon jackson

February 16, 2009, 8:25 pm

Fair review, imo. FEAR was a great game, and i'm definately enjoying FEAR 2 so far, but i think its improvements are matched by its deficiencies. I find the experience a less visceral/raw than the original game - seems a little more tailored to the arm-chair console gamer rather than hardcore fps fans who perhaps came originally from the pc. I think that's a popular trend in a lot of modern fps's though; they seem to lack some of the depth of years gone by. It's rare even to get a "use" button in fps's these days, or at least it feels that way to me. Often things like doors just open for you, and if they don't, you just presume you can't go through them. Even fear 2 feels rare in offering collectable med-kits which can be used as and when needed. A popular alternative - perhaps since halo - is regerating health. Not a bad paradigm per se, but it's good to have variety - it's the spice of life after all!


February 16, 2009, 11:16 pm

I agree with the above post - this game is most definitely affected by its console pedigree, not being able to use a mouse wheel to scroll through the PDA text?! The menus, including the aforementioned PDA screens are bloody awful from a PC perspective, very console orientated.

Anyway - I'm still shooting replica dudes with a smile on my face... It got that part right for sure.


February 20, 2009, 3:20 am

Got this game a couple of days ago and i have to say i agree with the review somewhat. Does feel a bit oldschool graphics and gameplay wise.

Not that its rubbish though. there are some really heart pounding moments. A game to play at night with the lights off.

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