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F.E.A.R. Project Origin Review

Title: F.E.A.R. Project Origin
Publisher/Developer: Warner Bros. Interactive/Monolith
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: 02/10/2009
Number of Players: Single player campaign/ 16 player Multiplayer

As I set out to write this review (having stayed up till 4am to finish the game) I find myself still a bit torn. Did I like this game or not? Well, obviously that’s always a question in mind of a review writer, but I find myself unable to fully answer that question. I think it may be due, in part, to my expectations and, perhaps, my recollection of the previous title (yes, I am ignoring a certain titles which were NOT F.E.A.R.). The other part that may be interfering with my clear view of FEAR 2 is that I have been inundated with horror titles over the last year.

I suppose it’s fair enough to say that, in the end, I did enjoy the game well enough. That doesn’t mean it actually met my expectations, but those expectations were a bit lofty. Being pragmatic I have to review games based on their merit and not necessarily on what I “expected”. With that, I can say that FEAR 2 is a worthy title of the praise it has been receiving. However, I can also say that some of the less enthusiastic reviews are also correct.

FEAR 2 starts just 30 minutes before the explosive ending of the previous title. This time around the player is put behind the eyes and trigger finger of Michael Becket, a member of Delta Squad, who is sent off to arrest Genevieve Aristride, the President of Armacham. It could go without saying, but it won’t, that the arrest obviously does not go without issue, especially if you consider “issue” to be the fact that a nuclear explosion pretty much interrupts anyone and everyone and whatever it is they were up to at that point.

The player will quickly learn that our Mr. Becket is no ordinary soldier, as is par for the course with the FEAR-verse. Throughout the game the player will comes across “intel” pieces scattered about with each report feeding the player a bit more of the background of the goings on with Armacham and their experiments. Project Origin itself s explained as is the Harbinger Project, both of which are used in conjunction with Replica Soldiers. As you’ll remember from the previous title, assuming you played the previous title, Replica Soldiers are pretty much highly-trained, well armed, blank-slate soldiers that were designed to be controlled by Psychic Commanders. This makes them ruthless and without fear (no pun intended).

The gameplay is pretty much the same as it was in from the first title in the series, with a few minor additions. The most notable of these additions is the ability to slide, topple, to push portions of the environment around to create cover during firefights. Whether or not this was a grand addition to the gameplay is up to the individual to decide. However, as I will cover in a moment, it did add some issues. The “slow-mo” system is still in place allowing the player to conquer odds that might have been a bit too much to handle at normal speeds. Again, this is nothing new to the series, but nonetheless it is fun to play with, especially when shooting targets that are repelling in from ceilings or helicopters.

While this review is being written after playing the Playstation 3 version of the game, the core system remains pretty much identical across the board. The player is allowed to carry 4 weapons at any given time with several types of weapons to choose from. These weapons range from sub-machineguns to shotguns to experimental prototype weapons. The player will have the option to “swap” weapons for other weapons they find, but in the end the player will have to decide what weapon he or she wishes to use carefully. You can’t have your cake and eat it too… if cake was guns… and eating was shooting. On top of the primary weapons, the player also has some of the standard faire grenades to choose from: frag, incendiary, shock, and proximity mines. Thankfully, there’s no force to choose between your explosive weapons as you can carry all four types and with the click of a button change with grenade type you wish to toss.

But what would FEAR be without Alma? Thankfully, unlike some other titles, we don’t have to worry about that as there’s plenty of Alma to go around. I will admit that some of the “creepy” effects were a bit over-used in the game. At points I almost felt as though I were watching a bad horror film sequel and I found it a bit distraction to my suspension of disbelief. In the first FEAR title hints, glimpses, and more implied scenes were used with Alma. In FEAR 2, it’s a bit more blatant, not to mention naked. I also feel that something was lost when the change to bring “tentacles” to Alma’s moments of the game made me feel like I was stuck with images of hentai stuck in my mind.

There were a few issues I found with the game that cannot be overlooked:

- The AI sometimes seems to be more concerned with playing with the new “topple cover” feature than they do actually fighting. This was a disappointment from a series that was known for innovative AI. Time and again I watched ATC or Replica Solider push over a chair and blissfully sit there as I shot them from behind.
- There are some distinct geometric collision issues with the game. More than once I found myself either stuck in terrain geometry or unable to retrieve an item that had somehow embedded itself into the geometry. The latter wasn’t as much of a problem as the former issue there as I found myself having to actually restart from saved checkpoints a couple time. These collision issues are also evident when trying to maneuver through some of the ruined areas. I found myself running forward at full speed only to be stopped dead in my tracks by a brick on the floor that was no more than a couple inches tall. I would then have to proceed to navigate around said brick to continue.

Despite these issues the game was still enjoyable, just far from perfect.

When it comes to the sound department for FEAR 2 I have a mixed-bag review for you:
The music and ambient sounds were fantastic and worked very well when it came to heightening the sense of eeriness. Alma’s music box tune was woven into several different version of the games soundtrack.

The weapons fire sound, on the other hand, was horrid. Everything sounded as if it were being fired from a distance rather than from a weapon that was in my digital hands. Now, I will digress a bit and state that “real” weapons fire sound is entirely different than that of which we have become accustomed to thanks to Hollywood. I’ve fired enough pistols, shotguns, and rifles in my lifetime to tell you that just about everything is ramped up for Hollywood effects. Nonetheless, while the staccato sounds of the guns may be more realistic, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that the sounds did not feel as if they originated mere inches from in front of my digital face. Rather that always sounded as if they were off in the distance. I found this particularly annoying during some fire fights where I couldn’t even here my own shotgun being fired. Before anyone comments, I played the game through on both the Playstation 3 and the PC with a Bose Surround System and 650w 7.1ch surround system respectively. This issue was apparent on both systems so it was not an issue with hardware or settings.

I would love to rave about the multiplayer aspect of the game, but I honestly didn’t derive too much enjoyment from it. Let me stop right now and state this. This is not because the multiplayer was implemented poorly; it is more a matter of the multiplayer titles FEAR 2 has to compete with. The FEAR 2 multiplayer experience just has a hard time standing out amongst the bevy of other multiplayer choices out there. Of course, I think it’s decent that Monolith implemented multiplayer for the game, but I would have rather seen those resources put into extending and expanding the single player portion of the game.

Graphically speaking, I was disappointed… with the console versions that is. Having run the console versions side-by-side with the PC version I will say that the consoles are definitely the weaker link in that chain this time around. I know, droves of console gamers are going to mail me bags of “waste” for saying this while PC gamers are all going to shout “Told you so!” in unison. Nevertheless, I tell it as I see it. When it came to playing FEAR 2 on the consoles I really didn’t see any vast improvements with the Lithtech engine this time around compared to the first FEAR title. Given the amount of time between the two, you can understand my chagrin. As I said, though, the PC version of the game is a whole other story. Running a high-end gaming rig (or two) with more of the settings and resolution tweaked up and the game looks great.

This is always a hard area to cover with multi-platform games. It’s not as clear cut as some people might think. You’ll hear time and again from the PC crowd that consoles cannot compete with PCs when it comes to graphics. While that might be true sometimes, I have played many a game on consoles that have trumped the PC or looked identical. Being fair to my readers, however, I would have to recommend FEAR 2 on the PC… if you have a high-end gaming rig. I emphasize that last point because if you have a mid-level machine you’re not going to get anything more out of the game than you would on the consoles, but you will run the risk of hardware configuration issues. That’s just some food for thought for all of you.

The Review:


After playing through FEAR 2 I will tell you this much, you might really think Alma is all that bad considering everything that’s been done to her. The story will take you even deeper into the screwed-up life of the poor kid. However, I will note that the ending of the game, which I will not discuss in detail, was a bit anti-climactic. At least it was to me.


Not much has changed this time around. The controls remain fairly similar with the exception of console control schemes being added. Weapons are fairly accurate but not so overly accurate like some other games where you just end up coming across as some Zen Master shooter. The “bullet time” system is always fun to play with and, at some points, mandatory.


While I enjoyed the music for the game thoroughly, I stated my issues with the weapons sounds. As a musician and self-professed audiophile it is hard for me to overlook this issue. For many other people it will not be an issue at all. I will say that the game was a hell of a lot better sounding with a good pair of stereo headphones on, though.


The graphics are on par for this generation. Though, as I stated, I feel that the console versions were a bit watered down when compared to the PC cousin. In all honest, other than the configuration options limited with consoles, I don’t see why there should have been a difference as I have seen both consoles execute some major graphic achievements in other titles.

The Good:

“Bullet Time” killing never gets old, especially when pinned opponents to the wall with the Hammerhead weapon. There is a lot more background to the story this go around and the flashes to Alma’s world actually leave you a bit disoriented upon returning to reality, which is pretty much what I am sure they were shooting for.

The Bad:

The weapon sound issue is just something I cannot get over. Also, the fact that the graphics on the consoles just didn’t seem up to snuff left me wanting a bit.

The Ugly:
Geometry Collision. Need I really say more? I shouldn’t get stuck while sneaking under a door or stop dead in my tracks because there’s a pencil on the floor.


While it wasn’t everything I was hoping it would be, FEAR 2 is still a respectable game and I would recommend it to FPS and Horror fans alike. The story alone has kept me interested enough to wait to see what happens with the next installment. And yes, I am pretty damned sure there will be another installment.

Final Vote: 8/10

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