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Jason Picker
06 Mar, 2009

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

PS3 Review | Starring deformed monsters, mechs and Alma's butt.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin has had somewhat of a checkered history. First there was the naming debacle. Developers of the series, Monolith, were purchased by Warner Brothers following the release of the first game and weren’t given permission to use the F.E.A.R. name. So, after an internet-based vote, fans chose Project Origin as the new title (which was marginally better than some of the alternatives, such as Dark Echo). Sometime later, Monolith regained the right to use the name, leaving us with the rather bland title of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.

Then there was the Australian censorship board, who refused to classify the game due to the high level of violence. The decision was later overturned after a successful appeal, and the game has finally arrived in all its bloody glory. But the question is: was it all worth it? Well, yes and no - you didn’t expect to get a simple answer did you?

Set around the end of the first game, you take the the role of Sergeant Michael Beckett, a member of a special forces unit (naturally) sent in to rescue the president of a research company with links to both you and to resident weirdo, Alma. It’s pretty much the standard action/horror storyline - an immoral research company’s experiments go bad, get loose, and need to be sent to monster hell with the biggest guns you can find.

Mr. Squiggle was never the same after they cancelled his show.

Mr. Squiggle was never the same after they cancelled his show.
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F.E.A.R. 2 is a game that seems to abide by the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, the original was made four years ago and the sequel could have benefited from some updating. Unlike most modern first person shooters, Beckett can’t regenerate health by hiding behind cover. Instead he relies on finding and manually using medical kits to heal his wounds. Apparently, this decision was made by the developers because they felt a “hide and recover” system would lessen the intensity of the game.

However, the opposite seems to be true. Even though the player can only carry three med kits and one body armour, rarely was there a time when we didn’t have at least one med kit in reserve. In games like the Call of Duty and Gears of War series, you spend a large part of the game having to quickly bolt for the nearest cover so you can regenerate. As most shooting fans can attest, this really gets the heart racing as you try and avoid further damage, and would have worked well in F.E.A.R. 2. Beckett also can’t 'lean' into cover and peer around corners to pop out and shoot at enemies without being completely exposed. This works against tactical players and favours the “run and gun” method.

After the praise heaped on the enemy intelligence in the first F.E.A.R. game and their clever use of cover, F.E.A.R. 2 has attempted to give the player the same skill. You now have the ability to overturn tables and couches or slide out bookshelves to create makeshift cover. It sounds good in theory, but only some furniture can be moved and you’ll find that the exact same style of furniture that you used in the last room can’t be used in the next. It’s largely a gimmick and more often than not you’ll ignore it.

Redecorating, F.E.A.R. style.

Redecorating, F.E.A.R. style.
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The other major new addition to the series, and one which thankfully works very well, is the mech sections. In certain outdoor areas you are able to climb into a large and powerful mech with unlimited ammo. While these sections feel a bit tacked on, we still found them to be a nice break from the standard corridor shooting areas. It’s just a shame that there are only a few of them and that they are over too quickly.

The game also features many of the same issues that plague most shooter games, with your ability to forgive them depending on how picky you are. For example, you will encounter umpteen locked or blocked doors, you’ll have to make it to a “checkpoint” before your game will save, and you can’t climb onto small ledges that could be negotiated by a six-year-old in a hessian sack.

The violence in the game is also worth mentioning, considering the controversy. Enemies can be blown apart in a number of ways, including loss of limbs, flesh being blown off their bodies, and utter annihilation in a bloody mist. However, there are only a limited number of death animations and after you’ve seen them all their impact reduces significantly. The choice of death animation and gore effect also doesn’t always fit in with the method by which you have killed an enemy. For example, firing a couple of bullets from across the room can sometimes cut an enemy in half, but a grenade thrown at their feet can often see them merely flop into the air, limbs intact.

No darling, you haven't used too much blush.

No darling, you haven't used too much blush.
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But all of this is really just the window dressing, because even in 2005, F.E.A.R. wasn’t the most original or polished game around. What made it so popular was the sheer number of underpant changes you had to make while playing it. So does the sequel require you to refresh your stock of adult nappies?

Well not to the same extent, but it certainly has its moments. To be fair, F.E.A.R. 2 can’t possibly meet the expectations of people who played the original because we already know what to expect, Visions and hallucinations that appear at the corners of the screen? Check. Random appearances of Alma jumping out at you? Check. Pitch black rooms where your torch is about as useful as an ice maker in a snow storm? Check.

Much to our disappointment, Alma also appears through most of the game in adult form. Unlike her child persona which you often only saw for fleeting moments in the original game, this time you see her far too much. And we mean far too much. In fact, adult Alma often appears naked. We’re not sure how the developers decided that an emaciated and naked female was scarier than a creepy little girl, but that’s what we have here.

Alma's butt. You'll see a lot of it.

Alma's butt. You'll see a lot of it.
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While the majority of the enemies and weapons are taken from the first game, there are a few new additions. This includes the very cool, but hell-freaky “Remnant” enemy. At first they appear to be regular folk going about their business but get too close and they scream sonic blasts that damage and disorient you, while also running around and reanimating nearby dead bodies to attack you. They are an excellent addition to what is otherwise a pretty standard list of enemy-types.

The shooting mechanics are definitely one of F.E.A.R. 2’s strengths. Weapons feel weighty and powerful, and are smooth to use. Despite a couple of new additions to the arsenal, the returning nail gun again steals the show, allowing the player to shoot projectiles that pin enemies to the wall to awesomely gruesome effect. The sound is also stellar, with Alma often whispering in your ear, and phantom noises and footsteps will have you constantly on edge.

All-in-all, it’s safe to say that if you like the first F.E.A.R. you’ll like its sequel - largely because it's mostly the same game, albeit with some minor improvements here and there. However, for newcomers or anyone tired of FPS clichés, try the demo before you buy.
The Score
Despite being a bit dated, F.E.A.R. 2 still delivers a solid shooter with enough scares for die-hard horror/shooter fans to relish. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Content

F.E.A.R. 2 DLC to be free
13 Mar, 2009 Free toys for all.
F.E.A.R. 2 DLC screenshots revealed
12 Mar, 2009 We all fall down like toy soldiers.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Preview
25 Jan, 2009 Is it time to fear little girls again?
3 Comments
5 years ago
Few comments on the review;

I disagree with the regenerating health statements. In fact, I'm really quite sick of of this being pushed (by journalists as a whole, not PALGN) on so many games. The health system of FEAR is absolutely fine. The problem was the enemy damage was so incredably low in comparison to the original that it made the health system useless.

Had the game the kind of damage intensity that the original had the health system would work fine. A regenerating health system wouldn't have really helped as the game was already so damn easy.

As for Alma being naked; she was that way in FEAR 1 as well. The problem wasn't her being naked, but the sexualising of her character. Naked Alma was really very creepy in the first FEAR, but not so much in FEAR 2, both for the reason above and because as stated in the review you see her far too often.

I don't think use of child Alma would have fixed this. The game simply used too many premises found in the first rather than try anything new.

Otherwise a good review and I mostly agree with the score. I'd probably give it a 6 - 6.5 personally, but this is close enough.
5 years ago
Nice work Jason!
5 years ago
PALGN wrote
Mr. Squiggle was never the same after they cancelled his show.
i genuinely laughed out loud.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  13/2/2009 (Released)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Publisher:
  Warner Bros Interactive Ent
Genre:
  Shooter
Year Made:
  2008

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