Critics were noticeably divided when F.E.A.R. was ported from the PC to the Xbox 360 in 2006. Many enjoyed the visceral combat and fluid enemy AI, but bemoaned the overused environments and static game mechanics. While we enjoyed the game, we found the game’s narrative to be convoluted and at odds with the gunplay. Ultimately, F.E.A.R’s paranormal storyline seemed forced, and was likely incorporated to break up the title’s tedium and to differentiate the game from the myriad of other first-person shooters.
F.E.A.R.’s sequels Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate were passed off to TimeGate studios, which did little to alleviate any of the original games impediments. Instead, the developers took the path of least resistance, adding new enemies and weapons on top of the existing engine. Meanwhile, Monolith Productions, developers of the first title, were hard at work on a true sequel. As these developers had lost the rights to the F.E.A.R. moniker, their follow-up was due to be called Project Origin. After a bout of complicated corporate juggling, Warner Bros. Interactive is bringing Monolith’s veritable sequel, name intact, to the 360, PS3, and PC.
“Watch me shoot that glass of cherry Kool-Aid out of your hand. Got it!”
Players assume the role of Delta Force member Michael Beckett, who has been sent to apprehend the president of the Armacham Technology Corporation. As Beckett and his squad enter in the building, F.E.A.R. 2 skillfully blends visceral firefights, hallucinogenic freakiness, with a dash of humorous tough-guy bravado. Whereas the original game’s stylistic variety seemed disjointed, here the game’s elements blend well together, creating a synergistic tension. Monolith proficiently creates a sense of dread throughout later levels, using limited lighting, blood, and the occasional distortion of perception. Although the game is never frightening, it succeeds in creating a general uneasiness and compels the player to move forward through its linear landscapes. Ballistic battles are clearly the game’s apex- slowing down time to engage three marauding enemies is wonderfully engaging.
“I said, TAKE A SEAT!”
F.E.A.R. 2’s multiplayer modes never reach the high notes of the title’s single player offering. Typical play modes such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, a node capturing variant called Control, and our favorite- Armored Front. This gametype requires players to capture and defend three control points, but also gives each team a powerful mech to control. With two chain guns and a powerful missile system, piloting these mechs in both the single and multiplayer games is immensely enjoyable. There’s something about ripping enemies into gooey red blobs that is embarrassingly satisfying
“You really could use a good meal, some rest, and a bottle of hand lotion”
With each successive now-gen title, Monolith has become increasingly proficient at creating a dystopian, foreboding environment. While F.E.A.R. 2’s environments lacks the decaying menace of Condemned 2: Bloodshot, the predominantly interior landscapes display of range of architectural styles. We did notice the occasionally overused asset- bottles of glass cleaner and trophy cases are used redundantly in two levels. F.E.A.R. 2 masterfully employs a grain filter and motion blur to evoke an ethereal haze. The sensation is carefully maintained via a steady framerate that rarely falters.
Overall, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is a brilliantly immersive title, which corrects the main hindrances found in the first game. The title successful blends feelings of disorientation and uneasiness with a superior FPS engine, creating a game that has few peers. With a ten hour single player campaign and a handful of uninspired, yet functional multiplayer modes, gamers should not be afraid to spend their hard-earned cash on F.E.A.R. 2. We can’t wait to see what Monolith does for an encore.