F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Review
PC gaming has a long history when it comes to horror-action games, or as I've dubbed them, the scary shooters. Both Doom and Quake were certainly based around horror themes, while the System Shock series in particular is well known for its ability to get you jumping in your seat through an excellent use of ambient lighting and sound effects. Historically, these types of games have never been a favorite of this writer for a multitude of reasons, the most important being that I'm a huge wuss who jumps at his own shadow. System Shock 2, while a fantastic game in many rights, was played in 15 minute spurts due to the fact my mother was tired of changing my sheets every morning. So when Sierra and Monolith released F.E.A.R. in 2006, a game that featured an insane telepathic girl who makes Veruca Salt look like an overachiever, I was in no rush to replace the plastic sheets on my bed.
Thankfully, I eventually realized I did have a pair down there and decided to give it a go, lest my manhood come into question. What I found was an excellent action game that knew when to let you gun people down and when to scare the living....stuff out of you. F.E.A.R. was really well done in its execution, whether it was the slow motion abilities of the unnamed protagonist, the creepy as all heck visuals, wonderful sound design, and of course the graphics. We even used F.E.A.R for awhile when benchmarking GPU's due its excellent DX9-based Jupiter EX engine. The free F.E.A.R. Combat multiplayer component was also a lot of fun, even if level design and game types were somewhat bland in regard to variety. But now Alma is back and apparently upset about the whole 'trying to kill her thing', so Monolith and Warner Brothers have released F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.
F.E.A.R. 2 picks up about 30 minutes prior to the explosion that annihilates most of the Vault and downtown Auburn. Instead of the unnamed Point Man, F.E.A.R. puts you in the shoes of Michael Becket, a Delta operator who may or may not have connections to Alma. Monolith has decided that the expansions for F.E.A.R., Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate, are not canon and should pretty much be ignored. In F.E.A.R. 2, you guide Becket as he encounters the aftermath of a nuclear meltdown and release of the telepathically powered antagonist Alma on her quest for revenge.
The story in F.E.A.R. 2 plays out very similar to the original game, with you blasting your way through office buildings, schools, and hospitals all while trying to avoid Almaís wrath. Along the way, you find memos, notes, and emails that detail just how deep the conspiracy is to create the perfect telepathic soldier goes, as well as your own questionable origins. The story is interesting and well told, although we were a little surprised that it did not pick up with the Point Man, instead focusing on a new main character. There is nothing wrong with Michael Becket or his team of Delta operatives; itís just F.E.A.R. really drew us into who or what the Point Man really was. The Point Man reminded us of Gordon Freeman, with his story being told as you played through his eyes.
If you watched until the end credits of F.E.A.R., there was a small audio clip that hinted that the entire synchronicity event may have been merely a test of the Point Manís abilities. So itís kind of shame to see that entire line dropped and instead we are introduced to a new character that we have to get emotionally interested in. And frankly, there is no greater hook than when you learned that the Point Man was actually Almaís own son. Ultimately though, Project Origin is a story about Michael Becket and his quest to stop the rampaging Alma from burning the world to the ground.