F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin Review: Alma’s Back

Prince

I’ve been waiting for a sequel to the original “F.E.A.R.” since I finished that game. The first title was a such a rush, and at the time there was nothing like it with memorable gun fights and online battles that tended to get very intense when the rooms were maxed out. In the official second installment “F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin,” starts out some thirty minutes before the events of the original “F.EA.R,” and the single player campaign delivers on every front. For anyone that might pick up this game for the console, you’ll be in a new nightmare during your online multiplayer adventures.

First, let’s get the bad news out of the way. Several other gamers I’ve spoken on the PlayStation Network all concluded that the online needs some work as there’s something that’s just not intuitive about it. After playing multiplayer most of last week and the weekend I realized what that was; it’s the design of the lobbies, matching, and party selecting - they were all was designed with the PC in mind. I’d bet my bottom dollar on that, because I played “F.E.A.R.” online extensively for two years, and still occasionally play it even now on my PC. I can’t say the same for the MP on PS3 though: users seem to be quite frustrated with the way you match up, as they spend countless hours trying to get into a game.

You see, the problem is also that gamers have no patience, and I for one am a prime example. If an interface doesn’t seem intuitive right off the bat, you tend to get frustrated. It’s a simple design that can get lost in the programming. For example, let’s you pick Death Match and if you’re the first in the game, then your console most likely becomes the host of that bout - okay, no problem, no dedicated servers. Then you wait for people to trickle in. Tumble weeds pass and nothing happens. One guy shows up and smokes a cigar with you. He leaves. Then two show up immediately after the previous user leaves. But wait, you need at least 4 people to start the game. Arrrgggh! Okay, so you say, “there are different modes, you can narrow it down to what want to play; blitz, TDM, DM, etc.” Sure, but when you select one of those no one is playing the ranked game that you want to because they are all trying to get in on Armored Front match for that 100 man mech kills trophy. Do you need another example? Okay, one more. I once entered a room and met up with some European gamers, and they promptly asked me to leave saying “hey deafwing, GTFO!” I said “Why, I want to play.” “Dude, we’re trying to get trophies .” I replied with, “Are you kidding me … earn them *bitzzzz*” I got kicked out. What about a party system? That doesn’t exist in any shape of form you’d expect. This is the sad truth.

Fortunately, I can’t say the same for the single player campaign; where the online multiplayer game fails for the consoles, but the single player campaign for “F.EA.R. 2″ shines. I kid you not; there’s nothing like this game when it comes to its gun fights. True, you can abuse the slow-mo, but you have the option not to use it, or abuse it. This is probably a design flaw where the developers didn’t considered from my point of view. A suggestion for “F.E.A.R. 3″: perhaps you could be taxed in some way for using slow-mo, like lowering your health a little. That way you have to weigh in the costs of surviving a gun fight by either using or not using the ability.

Visually the game is a big step above its predecessor, and it shows. With heavy use of blur and bloom effects, depth of field, and all that technical stuff that most gamers don’t really understand, your eyes will be in for a treat. Couple that with a wicked sound effects soundtrack that makes your sub go boom, and all your senses will be pleased, not just your eyes. This is one of the first games that made my sub-woofer turn into a electric fan while using a shotgun. The fact is, Monolith, WB and company put together a brilliant gem and injected the series with a descent episode after the last 1.1 and 1.2 episodes.

fear2_2

In “Project Origin” you take on the role of another candidate in a project to generate super-soldiers, which, at this point is a cliché, because things go wrong. Essentially, a weapons firm is in the business of creating the most physically enhanced soldier, and you are one of its end products. As your silent protagonist progresses through a series of corridors and mazes you will be given in-depth information on the previous game, as well as the current matter at hand, so you could get up to speed on the series. There’s no door puzzles here and there is only one area in the game where you are forced to back-track. The gameplay comes in where you’re trying to figure out how to take out the psychically controlled soldiers and human enemies. You will be fighting two factions, one trying to erase the firm’s mistakes, and other is products of the firm controlled by Alma. Every now and then someone will help you during a gun fight, but, really and truly, this not a buddy game, you’re the ultimate weapon.

fear2_6

Yes most of them get killed, but not everyone gets axed in the game. Those who get in the way of Alma’s goal get ripped down to the bone with some of the most insanely beautiful graphics you’ll see.

The online

multiplayer

game fails

for the

consoles but

the single

player

campaign for

“F.EA.R. 2″

shines.

The game uses very dynamic and movie like techniques to present all the gore to you. Like the first one, for me, there was only one part in the game that made the hairs on my arm stand-up straight: The Elementary School. Yes, and it’s an abandon one at that, with no electricity, and pitch black hall ways. Of course you arrive at this stage just in time for your flash light to start going bad, and the ensuing struggle between you and several of the specters found on the grounds begin leading to one of the most tingling events I’ve experienced in a game. Perhaps if I hadn’t played this level at 12AM in the morning, I may not have felt that way. The other parts of the game came across more as a “Boo, I gotcha” kind of a scare, and, after seeing so many SAW flicks they just don’t do much for me.

The previous game’s arsenal returns, including the weapons from the 1.1 and 1.2 episodes - all of which have been redesigned, and, in addition those there is a new set of weapons to play with. I personally didn’t enjoy the new nail gun’s look and performance, since the original was a beast, and this one appears to be slightly more toned down - it seems like a nerf gun on steroids. You can still nail people to walls, slow time, and then throw a grenade at them to destroy their bodies and the wall with said grenade, but now you have the ability to nail them to the wall, slow time, and throw a shock grenade at them, electrocute them, and blow them up with frag. The game has a tendency to bring out the sadist in you. What can you say when your shotgun reduces entire bodies to particles of blood, which is extra satisfying since the AI is often deserving of such brutality because they know how to give you such a hard time. Also you’re not just fighting soldiers in the varied environments you’ll come across, but citizens as well, who are now twisted by Alma’s powers. It’s almost impossible to complete the game without outwitting all its enemies with slow-mo. While it is, in fact, possible, I wouldn’t recommend it, but the experience always left me feeling rewarded. I had wished that the developers had put a trophy in there for completing the game without using slow-mo. When you play this way, the gun fights are even more intense, almost realistic (on hard at least). This is the product of the game’s genius as first person shooter; it has something that most FPSs don’t have - visceral action.

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By the end of the game, you will be convinced that it was unique, and given how crowded the genre is these days, we need something different in our lives. With games like “Killzone 2″ on the horizon, you have to wonder who is going to pick this up. I asked this question to gamers who had purchased the game to understand why they picked it up. For most of them they purchased it to tide their time until “KZ2,” but they all said that the single player run through was a pleasant surprise, and would even consider playing the original, if not just to see what it was like.

In the end, where the game delivers on a solid single player game, the multiplayer turns out to be not so great online for the consoles. I say this because after trying the PC version I was impressed with the experience. and, not to mention, it looks fifty times better on a PC monitor. However, that doesn’t mean that console gamers shouldn’t experience the game. You probably won’t find a challenge if you’ve complete games like “Call of Duty 4″ or “World at War” on veteran mode, but it will keep you interested long enough to finish it. Shooting hasn’t been this much fun since “Call of Duty 4.”

Rating: ★★★★☆

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