FEAR 2 Project Origin Review
|Genre:||First Person Shooter|
|Release Date:||February 13th, 2009 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
The first F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) game was a pretty good shooter, marred only by its obsession with office corridors and dial-a-clone bad guys. FEAR 2, is a slightly different beast and, while it fixes some of the problems presented by the first FEAR, it manages to create a few new ones.
The storyline this time centres on ex-Delta Force operative Michael Becket, part of another FEAR team dispatched to the city before the nuclear explosion at the end of the last game.
This team's mission is the capture of Genevieve Aristide, CEO of Armacham Technology Corporation, a massive military production company (and the people behind all the trouble.)
Becket is also part of a project called Harbinger, which has ties to the project Origin of the previous FEAR, though the plot is pretty much see-through and has little new material to cover. Namely, Alma (the greasy-haired girl on the cover), is still causing hell in a hand basket and Becket is right in the middle of all the trouble.
The first major problem is the increased 'cartoonification' of the graphics. Unlike the previous FEAR, this iteration seems to have gone with an altogether 'softer' look- the guns are more rounded and clean and all the enemies seem to be a little more cute than you'd expect hardened squads of clone soldiers to be. There also seems to be an odd furry visual effect going on, though this is probably just the engine struggling with the draw distance.
In all honesty I felt that I wasn't really playing FEAR, It seemed more like a next-generation version of Timesplitters- a sad loss to series that prided itself on gritty action.
That's not to say it's bad, once you get past the slightly easier-on-the-eyes look the game can be pretty good fun, especially as the 'slow mo' ability of the last FEAR game makes a welcome return, with better graphics and a handy dynamic of making the enemies stand out from the terrain, making raking them with the submachine gun's merciless rate of fire all the easier.
Also included are levels where Becket climbs into a giant armoured mech and wreaks havoc on the enemy with dual chainguns and a rocket launcher. These levels can also be played without the mech, thereby extending the replay-value.
The constant visions and general creepiness of the previous FEAR also make a return, with Becket seemingly living in a nightmare of screaming banshees and visions of Alma, who haunts every corridor and open space.
Some of the shocks are predictable, but a few did manage to make my skin crawl, and one (featuring a mutilated half-human and a sobbing medical technician) even made me feel a bit queasy.
Graphically the game is solid, with the slow-mo portions and hectic battles showing off the considerable power of the havok physics system. Despite the cartoony feel, the game looks pretty good and handles solidly, though the weapons selection system really should have been slaved to the D-Pad, rather than the shoulder buttons.
Sound is also exemplary, with every bullet casing, crying spectre and Replica Soldier's yell sounding authentic. The voice actors were also a good choice, adding a nice touch to a game that needed a strong story.
In one standout moment early on, a fellow solider in Becket's unit speaks over the fuzzy radio about a crying woman, and how "they took her babies." Turning a corner, the man lurches out and grabs Becket, screaming "She's mine, mine!" Then gets yanked against the wall and dissolved by some mystic force, screaming loudly enough to shake bones- creepy.
The weapons on offer range from the standard to the extreme. Though Becket starts out with the usual pistol and machine gun, these quickly become redundant when compared to the armoury of advance weaponry up for grabs, though the laser and futuristic napalm cannon might be seen as a little over the top.
However, the melee attacks so popular from the first FEAR also make a return, and there really is no better feeling than taking out two running Replica Soldiers with a flying kick in slow motion.
The enemies are much more varied in this FEAR, stretching from the usual bunch of spec-ops style shooters to heavily armed beasts with rocket launchers, wall-crawling half-men, ghosts and of course, Alma herself, who is a real hard nut to crack.
FEAR 2's multiplayer is pretty standard fare, featuring all the usual modes. A couple of new additions are the Failsafe mode (think counter-strike for FEAR) and Armoured Front, which allows each team to have one of the heavy mechs to back them up as they advance on the enemy- it's a good set of multiplayer modes, but it doesn't really hold a candle to the modern Call of Duty games.
All in all, FEAR 2 is a solid, if uninspiring, shooter. The decision to make the game less realistic (if that is possible) wasn't really in its best interests, and though the story has enough to keep you interested, in the majority of cases it just follows the plot of the previous FEAR, with a few good scares thrown in for a good measure. One to buy if you were a massive fan of the first FEAR, otherwise, there's nothing really here other than a reasonably good first-person shooter.
- Slow mo is still cool
- More varied environments and enemies
- Still scary
Not so good stuff
- Cartoony graphics
- Predictable plot
- Average multiplayer
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