Review: FEAR 2: Project Origin

F.E.A.R. separated itself from the FPS pack when it shot-up stores in 2005 with its intuitive AI, slow-mo bullet-time combat, and one particularly creepy paranormal little girl named Alma. Even though the franchise got caught in creative limbo for some time while Monolith and Vivendi/Siera figured out how to play nice, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is finally upon us.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin isn’t a direct continuation of the first title, but rather a parallel-ish story that begins shortly before the bomb from the original’s finale makes a mess of things. You play as newcomer Michael Becket, a soldier with ragingly high Paragon Scores, which is fancy talk to say you are a telesthetic that can manipulate time and excels in general badassness.

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If there’s one thing F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin has going for it, its mood; in true Monolith fashion, there are spooks galore thanks to a bevy of situational and trigger-based events that jump out at you, which integrate well into gameplay. The most memorable of these moments include the first encounter with the Remnant, ghostly resurrected soldiers that float like puppets pulled by bloody tendril-like strings, and the re-appearance of the Replica Assassins, the ninjas from the first game who now bear a prismatic rainbow honeycomb effect. That, and every time Alma pops up in one of her three forms (child, naked dead chick, naked hot chick), she usually comes toting scares. And lots of blood.

Sadly, that’s where the list of anything remotely remarkable ends. The game, though not as “run through 20 office buildings” as the first, still drags you through places you visited in either the first game, its PC expansion pack, F.E.A.R. Extraction Point and subsequent Xbox 360-exclusive bundle, F.E.A.R. Files , or pretty much every other shooter you’ve played recently. Basements, boiler rooms, industrial buildings, reactor sites, blown up streets, loading bays, laboratories, vacated buildings, corporate towers, it’s all totally standard (see the occasional vision of a treeswing on a grassy hill for a colorful exception). So are the weapons; other than the Pulse Weapon aka the Armacham Type-12 Prototype, which spews a blue orbs that slurps the flesh off of enemies, leaving crispy skeletons in its wake, the weapon loadout, while effective and well-rendered, is totally standard.

The same can be said for the multiplayer suite, which only really shines in Armored Front games because of the pair of powered armor suits available. A glaring omission in the MP is the lack of anything freaky; something along the line of the scares induced by the Crime Scene mode in Condemned 2: Bloodshot would’ve sufficed, but without anything supernatural to the MP component, which is the one truly distinguishing element to the F.E.A.R. franchise, it’s instead like any other shooter. That, and because the roundhouse melee kick returns, we predict that online games will eventually go the way of the original, descending into Chuck Norris melee-fests.

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Closing Comments:

Now, let me be clear, that’s not all to say F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin isn’t fun or that it’s not well-made. It is certainly both, but I defy anyone to remember anything other than a few moments of this game in 6 months time (and I’m not talking about the abrupt, WTF ending). Sure, there’s fun to be had shooting baddies in the face for 10-12 hours over the course of the 14 missions, but sadly F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin isn’t nearly as remarkable as the original.
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Versions Reviewed: Xbox 360, PS3, PC