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Nutshell Review: F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Reviewer: Cliff Davenport









I wanted to like F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.  I really did.  As a fan of the original game, I was equal parts relieved and excited at the news of Monolith’s re-acquisition of the F.E.A.R. license.  The masters had recovered their legacy, and I couldn’t wait to welcome Alma back into my nightmares once again.  


 












Awkward?


Unfortunately, after finishing F.E.A.R. 2, it became disappointingly apparent to me that in the time between Monolith’s loss and recovery of the F.E.A.R. IP, they forgot what made the original game a genre-defining title, as they had led its sequel into potential-dashing mediocrity.   


Immediately, players are introduced to the new player character, Michael Beckett (A.K.A. “Bucket.”  Seriously.), whom we quickly discover that Alma kind of has a thing for…apparently.  













Yeah, definitely awkward.


But more on that later.  The mainstay of F.E.A.R. 2’s gameplay is the series’ standout action elements, returning in all their bloody, hyper-reflexive glory.  Sporting smooth, polished gunplay and the return of F.E.A.R.’s standout enemy A.I., F.E.A.R. 2’s gunfights and combat encounters will rarely leave players wanting.  The welcome addition of several new enemy types, new combat mechanics, and the inclusion of a few mech-combat sequences help to keep combat fresh, but can have a tendency to completely distract players from any semblance of horror gameplay for fairly lengthy intervals.  


Complementing these features are modernized visuals and several welcome deviations from the series’ previously monotonous level-environments. Certain set-piece scenes, especially the series’ hallmark hallucinations, are surprisingly well-composed visually, lending F.E.A.R. 2’s presentation a certain degree of artistry.  These features notwithstanding, it should be noted, however, that while F.E.A.R. 2’s graphics and level-design far surpass those of its predecessor, they only just meet the par of its contemporaries, and the same can be said for the game’s decidedly sub-par multiplayer.  


Having established those things, I feel like I’ve written the rest of this review before.  Namely, Monolith has made a lot of the same mistakes with F.E.A.R. 2 that Timgate Studios made with the Perseus Mandate expansion pack before it.  From the odd choice of departing from the original game’s art style (featuring completely different armor, weapon, and even character designs) to F.E.A.R. 2’s nonsensical story, the game just doesn’t really feel like a F.E.A.R. sequel, in appearance or spirit.












“Don’t you dare make that pu- BITCH, I WILL EAT YOU!”


 Relying more upon predictable jump-scares than psychological or environmental dread, F.E.A.R. 2’s horror segments are more nerve-wracking than they are unsettling, and this trend infects the story as a whole.  Its departure from Point Man aside, the game doesn’t even seem to remember its own timeline throughout its disjointedly illogical narrative (How and why did Beckett receive visions of Alma before receiving the psychic amplification surgery, for example?), and Alma’s actions throughout the game, especially regarding her sudden obsession with Beckett and the other Delta Force members, just come off as arbitrarily forced.   She has no reason, especially early on, to take notice of this man, and yet she harries, attacks, and molests him like something out of Navi’s darkest nightmares, keeping many of the game’s would-be horror sequences from feeling more than marginally threatening, and instead lending them an unwelcome atmosphere of uncomfortability.  Seriously, there are segments of this game that are just plain unpleasant to sit through, especially its “twist” ending, which really robs players of any sense of climactic achievement or pay-off.


 












Literally.  


As a shooter, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is a bloody good time, but as a horror game, much less a proper F.E.A.R. sequel, it falls disappointingly short.  Despite its solid action, its neutered horror and vague, paranormally hormonal storyline bar it from living up to its legacy, and its replay value is middling at best after single-player’s completion.  I can’t say that recommendations come easily for it, especially for fans of F.E.A.R., but FPS junkies like myself may enjoy this momentarily dark departure from the usual fare of run n’ gun action.



Rating: 5.8


Visuals: 6

Audio: 5

Controls & Mechanics: 7

Atmosphere & Experience: 6

Entertainment Value: 5


  Consoles: (PC), PS3, Xbox 360

  Developer: Monolith Productions

  Publisher: WB Games

  Release Date (U.S.):  Feb 10, 2009

  Release Date (U.K.):  Feb 13, 2009

  Release Date (JP):  Aug 27, 2009


Final Verdict:


5.8

Last Level Press © Copyright Cliff Davenport  Est. 2013.  Links | Legal Notices

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