Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Review: F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Fear, noun, 1. A feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or imminence of danger. That's the dictionary definition of fear. This can somewhat also describe the latest game in Monolith's thriller-shooter series. It sure is full of anxiety, and has some agitation for PC users at least. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin picks up right before the end of the original F.E.A.R. You are no longer the "Pointman," instead you step into the shoes of Michael Beckett, a member of a second special ops team, who while originally set to rendezvous with the first FEAR (fuck those periods) team, got redirected to capture and protect the president of Armacham Technology Corporation, Genevieve Aristide. The game starts with you breaking into the building housing her Penthouse, and the shit hits the fan about ten minutes after, with the explosion of the Origin facility([SPOILERS] at the end of FEAR 1) ripping through the city, and releasing Alma from her prison. Things then continue to go from bad to worse for ole' "Bucket." But that's as far into the story as I'll go.

The graphics in FEAR 2 are pretty spectacular. The whole presentation of it comes off as an interactive movie, with the filter effects, character models, and amazingly detailed level design taking full advantage of the next gen hardware that it's running on. FEAR looked great in its own time, and the sequel spares no time stepping it up. The presentation of the spooky elements really add to the atmosphere, and the game is really successful in just being immersive overall. Beware though, the game is bloodier and gorier than the SAW franchise, and Alma has no regrets ripping the flesh off of some poor soldier, and taking their heads off for no reason other than to be a total bitch.

The gameplay in the game is that of your standard shooter variety, but it's got a few unique things that do make it stand out. They added in a "semi-cover" system, which means it doesn't have the new-fangled cover systems of the lastest shooters that has been done to death, with instead giving you the option to use the environment as cover, and making the crouch button your friend. The original game had the AI flipping tables and shoving things in front of your shots, and 'Lith so graciously gives you that option this time around. The game also carries over the slow-mo system from the first game, though you don't start with it, and it is fully within story context when you actually get it. The AI in the game isn't as brutal this time around as they have been toned down in their ass-kicking levels, but they still act very realistic, flanking the player at every chance, and flushing you out of cover. While this may seem annoying, it keeps combat fresh and fast paced. The guns have a good weight to them, and you certainly don't feel like any of them aren't doing as much damage as they should be. They have a good balance between each other, and overall just "feel" good, which is often something that's hard to do with a shooter.

I guess I should also mention the mech battle sequences, though other sites have talked about them to death by now. Final verdict on them is simple. They make you feel like a badass, and they're awesome. Not much else to say.

While FEAR 2 is overall a good game, I do have some problems with at least the PC version of it. I havent played the 360 or PS3 versions, so you'll have to excuse me. First off, while I know this game was also built for consoles, it is inexcusable for a PC shooter to not have a quick save/quick load system in place. Seriously, the auto-save is inadiquate for a PC game, it always has, and always will be. The next problem is the lack of options the user has in adjusting the graphics in the game. I couldn't tone down the motion blur, and ended up motion sick more than once due to it. I never get motion sick, not even while watching Cloverfield in theaters. These are, of couse, technical gripes I have with the game. I honestly don't have any gameplay or graphical gripes, and the story is much better than the first game.

Final Word
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is one of the better shooters to come out lately. It offers quick, visceral action with a healthy dose of scare the hell out of you, and a dash of suspense on the side. While PC users may be irked at the lack of options for them, it's still a good buy, even at $60 in this recession.

Score: B