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

By Stuart Andrews

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

F.E.A.R. 2 works in exactly the same way and does exactly the same things, helped along by even smarter enemy troops who are now capable of flipping furniture and creating their own cover, and your ability to do the same thing. As before, there's a strong element of tactics to the fighting, as victory is a lot easier if you have a clear idea of the environment and plan your attacks before triggering the slowmo. However, it's never a dry, technical affair for the simple reason that plans go awry, new enemies appear and you're always fighting to the edge of your abilities. Many games have tried to replicate the experience of the classic lobby gun battle from the first Matrix film, but F.E.A.R. was one of the few to actually manage it. Now F.E.A.R. 2 can make the same proud boast.

Some new additions seem designed specifically to please the hardcore fanbase. Remember those big robot suits that gave you such a hard time around the Armacham facilities? Well, they're back, but this time you can take one for a spin yourself and engage in some thoroughly cathartic rampaging through a ruined city. The storyline also goes even further into the history of Armacham and Alma, bringing back old characters, introducing some great new ones and showing what Alma can do when she's really let loose. Other improvements feel aimed specifically at complaints about the original game, most of all its lack of scenic variety. F.E.A.R. 2 still sticks to modern industrial, civic and commercial environments, but at least we see the odd bit of daylight and even the interior of an elementary school on our journey. As someone who got heartily sick of F.E.A.R.'s office-block locations (and warehouses - ed.) during two play throughs, I would definitely describe this as a change for the better.

All of this stuff is good, but the question I keep coming back to while playing F.E.A.R. 2 is, is it enough? And the reason I keep asking that question is that Project Origin is badly scarred by that least exciting of weird phenomena: Deja Vu. Simply put, F.E.A.R. 2 feels so much like the original game that it's in danger of feeling like an expansion pack, and three years on the whole experience has dated. Forgetting the slowmo for a second, this is as staid and traditional a corridor shooter as I've played in the last two years; a fact not helped by linear level design, a reliance on gloomy indoor environments and an overall lack of scale. Claustrophobia is certainly good for tension, but you can get too much of it, and you spend much of the game waiting for the designers to open out a bit more and show us something bigger, brighter or just, plain unexpected.

Throw in such old tropes as the health bar and medikits, and you have a game that feels like it stems from an older generation of shooter. Meanwhile, all those illusions and visions, while effective, are losing their impact with time and repetition. In the wake of EA's Dead Space - a game that had scary atmosphere and shocks to spare - F.E.A.R. 2 only manages to muster up a few really frightening moments. It's a creepy game with some slick use of in-game cinematics, but atmospherically it's not in the Silent Hill/Dead Space/Bioshock league.

noTHINGface

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.

StuAndrews

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!

noTHINGface

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.

grouse

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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