Giant Bomb Review

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

4
  • X360

It's less tactical than its forebear, but Monolith delivers a tightly paced and atmospheric ride with F.E.A.R. 2.

Happy birthday!
With games like No One Lives Forever and Shogo in its past, Monolith has a long history of developing highly atmospheric games. Lately, though, it's been focusing more specifically on the aesthetics of insanity and brutality, with its Condemned and F.E.A.R. franchises feeling a bit like kissing cousins. Its latest, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, maintains a similar split of high-tech firefights and supernatural freak-outs to the one that defined the original F.E.A.R., though the difficulty has been dialed way down, and the action feels much less tactical. This might be a disappointment for those looking for something cerebral, but the high-impact weaponry, moody visuals, and frenetic pacing make F.E.A.R. 2 a viscerally satisfying ride.

F.E.A.R. 2 puts you in the role of a Sgt. Michael Becket, a member of a separate F.E.A.R. team than the Point Man from the original. Despite playing as a different character, you've got the same slow-motion and jump-kickin' abilities, something that's addressed over the course of the story. The game picks up just before the first game left off, allowing you glimpses of the climax of that game before heading off on your own mission to find and stop Alma, the tragic, psychically charged young woman whose thirst for revenge against the Armacham Corporation has laid waste to much of the city. Much like Monolith's queasily pugilistic Condemned 2: Bloodshot, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin spends a lot of time revealing the truths behind the mysteries and conspiracies established in the original, often through memos and other bits of intel scattered throughout the environments. A fear of the unknown is what drove the first game, but somehow it's even more disturbing to see just how far-reaching and sinister the grand conspiracy is. If this is your first dip into the F.E.A.R. crazy-pool, the game does a decent job of catching you up to speed, and a quick look at our wiki page should sufficiently fill you in on the rest.

This is probably way easier and way more fun than actually piloting a mech.
Your mission to stop Alma puts you at odds with the high-tech private army of the Armacham Corporation, psychically controlled clone soldiers that have gone rogue, and of course, Alma herself. She'll randomly pop up to puree other characters or drive them crazy, but mostly she just comes at you with unnerving-but-harmless visions. There are a few jump-scares in F.E.A.R. 2, but most of the creepy stuff is just part of the ride, with minimal impact on the gameplay. Even in this passive capacity, the Alma-induced visions still have a significant influence on the game's unique visual flair. One of the more significant critiques against the first F.E.A.R. was a sense of monotony in the environments, which seemed to consist almost exclusively of office buildings and quasi-military compounds, and the environments in F.E.A.R. 2 are significantly more diverse. It still kicks off in an average-looking office hallway, though it's not long before you're battling your way through apocalyptic city streets, a deserted elementary school, and derelict subway systems. Still, part of the aesthetic of the F.E.A.R. series is the contrast of mundane, recognizable environments with surreal hallucinations and meticulous viscera, something F.E.A.R. 2 delivers in a variety of ghastly ways.

Aside from all the spooky ghost stuff, one of the defining characteristics of F.E.A.R. was the tactical style of the gameplay. AI opponents would intelligently flank you, flush you out with grenades, find cover, or make their own cover by flipping over tables and such. While the enemies in F.E.A.R. 2 are still pretty good about protecting their own hides, the game itself is so generous with your time-slowing reflex ability, ammo for your totally kick-ass weapons, body armor, and health packs, that it feels much more run-and-gun. Compounding this issue is that F.E.A.R. 2 is a phenomenally linear game, with only a few rare moments when it even seems like you have more than one path to take. In a way, I actually prefer the more-focused, more-forgiving style of F.E.A.R. 2, simply because it makes it easier to really appreciate the crazy atmospheric effects and gorgeous gore that are on display. A sequence where you get to pilot a massive mech suit--a moment that echoes Shogo--is a perfect example of what F.E.A.R. 2 is all about. There's little challenge to it, but the way it's presented, with its glitchy video-screen effects, the swirling trails of your cluster missiles, and the hydraulic moans of the suit itself, really puts you in the moment.

Hey, you've, uh, got a little something on your face.
Aside from the brisk, aggressively cliffhangery single-player experience, F.E.A.R. 2 offers some online multiplayer options as well, though it feels a little by-the-numbers when compared to the bloody, hallucinogenic story mode. It supports up to 16 players and features standard-issue modes like deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, control point, and an objective-based bomb/disarm mode. You can modify your weapon load-out before a match, and change between three preset load-outs in between spawns. There's an online ranking system, but that doesn't earn you much more than bragging rights. The most interesting part of F.E.A.R. 2's multiplayer is probably the presence of those big-ass mech suits from the single-player game in the Armored Front mode, though it's such a murderous piece of gear that it seems like the only reliably effective way to counter it is with another mech suit. It's one of those things that's better in concept than in practice.

I honestly think there are few developers today with both the technical and creative chops to establish such a specific tone as Monolith does so successfully with F.E.A.R. 2.  Even though the ghost-story stuff ends up being about as threatening as a trip through The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, and the tactical gameplay is softened up by an abundance of player-boosting pick-ups, F.E.A.R. 2 still puts on one hell of a show.
86 Comments
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Posted by piecat

Nice review.

Posted by JJOR64

Nice.  I think I might get this when the price drops.

Posted by Drebin_893

Nice. Really good review.

Posted by Captain_Fookup

Bought it when it came out, beat the campaign really wish there was an expert mode though.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Yeah. I like when Ryan does the horror games. He is good at this stuff. Looks like a very solid game.

Posted by Tru3_Blu3

I wish Monolith kept the aggressive A.I. and tactical action from the first game while adding all the improvements in the second. If they did that, then the game would be a masterpiece.

Posted by MrMiyagi

Great review. Still think I'll wait on this one though.

Posted by MeatSim

The first game was awesome I'm not sure why they toned down the AI and the difficulty, but this still looks good.

Posted by Death_Burnout

Well, i am definitely getting this tomorrow, when i played the demo, i did think that the original was better.

But there was one tiny jump scare, if you turned around after hearing the classic horror "chime", that made me instantly fall in love with it, even if i, like i said, prefer the original, at least in terms of A.I.

Posted by Duh_ave

Liking the game, could have used to tone the A.I. up, not down. Overall it(apostrophe)s a very good experience.

Sidebar: Why cant I use punctuation in this text field (question mark). That(apostrophe)s really annoying.

Posted by Binman88

I really enjoyed the demo and can't wait to play the full game (PC) when it arrives in the post next week! I actually didn't like it that much after playing quickly through the demo for the first time, but then went back, turned down the brightness and took it slower and really appreciated, as mentioned above, the classic 'jump' scares and the general atmosphere.

(I might be slightly wrong, but isn't there a part in the demo where you hear that "chime" noise, turn back and see nothing, but then turn forward and Alma is standing right in front of you?)

Posted by DeanJParker

Much better than the review over at Gamespot, man that review just sucked... " Oh its a good game, but really, i hate it, and heres how..."

What a tool

Posted by sloppyjoe

About how long is the single player?

Posted by JoelTGM

kabam!  this game is great.

Posted by mrsmiley

Yeah I agree about the Gamespot review. I love how those guys take a good game, then drop the score 3-4 points for one or two little things. Dumb. Great review Ryan.

Posted by BawlZINmotion

I must admit I was a bit surprised reading this review considering the growing consesus about FEAR 2 in the review community. But... I'll trust what the the GB crew say on a title over another publication any day of the week. Either or I was planning to at least rent it on the weekend.

Posted by Psynapse

Good review Ryan, I really enjoyed the first game, but i don't quite know if i'll pick this one up yet.

Posted by buzz_killington

i loved the first one, and im giving serious thoughts for getting this one. a video review would also be appreciated :)

Posted by patrick5152003

i like your review ryan.

Posted by AndrewB

The big reason I bought this was for the story. Why? I'm not quite sure myself. When it comes to gameplay , I do love the fast paced, tactical quality of FEAR, but I generally can't play "scary" games; games with all sorts of cheap scares throughout, a la Doom 3. I managed to make it through the first game, but if the demo is any indication, you seem to see a lot more of Alma in this one, and the enhanced graphics over FEAR 1 can make things even creepier.

Posted by Danishmaggot

Great review and I agree a lot with it. I am only about half way through the game, but it has been a blast up until now. The multiplayer is so-so but overall ok. I love this game.

Posted by BlackWaterCO

DeanJParker are you thick? Thats their opinion

I personally hate this shitty game...so damn generic, beat it tonight

Posted by Erdie

Sounds alright, but truth be told I'm up to my neck in shooters lately.  It'll have to sit on the waiting list for a while.

Posted by MrKlorox

I also wanted something more tactical. Perhaps in the next game they will use a more open, dynamic approach. Slightly STALKER-ize it, if you will.

Posted by Verdugo

Nice review.

I'm still getting this game, but one thing I'm dissapointed to hear is that they toned the difficulty down...

F.E.A.R's incredibly tactical A.I is one of those things that made it fun:P.

Posted by Linkyshinks

Nice review.

Posted by Kohe321

Awesome review, very well written! I'm going to get this game.

Posted by SmokePants

I tried the demo and was not impressed. The level design just doesn't support tactical play at all. The mech crap is gratuitous filler. Everything about the gameplay seems too simplistic.

Posted by Ethryx

Great review :) That is pretty much exactly how I felt after playing the game.

Posted by Media_Master

good sequel

Posted by SlimDogg95

Nice review Ryan. I have played the demo alot. And i enjoy it.

Posted by DeepRed

Really nice review. Short, clear and to the point.

I like others played the demo and found it quite fun, but missing something from the original. Nevertheless, FEAR 2 will be awesome! There's just the small matter of getting my PS3 fixed before I can play it, hehe.

Posted by ElectricHaggis

Great review Ryan.  There's something to be said for being concise.

Posted by Krenor

Giantbomb is definitely the best place to get reviews for games, thanks guys

Posted by MajikMouse

The aggressive AI FEAR is known for is still in there, but there are only a few environments where you really get to see it in action.

Posted by Ulquiorra

Awesome review Ryan very insightful.

Posted by Cirdain

I LoL'ed at every picture caption ¦-)

Posted by FuzzYLemoN

What's with the lack of video reviews these days? >_<

Posted by kardon16

I like giant bomb because its always full of good and friendly comments, take a look at IGN  or game trailers and the comment section is always full of arguments or bad game critique

Posted by edsone

more video reviews would be great indeed.

Posted by AspiringAndy

Well written and informative review Ryan.
Keep up the good work.

Posted by Asurastrike

Ha! I'm glad I stuck through until the end of the video.

Edited by patrick5152003

the video review was even better! you rule ryan
also, couldn't agree with your "ride" analogy any more. i bought this game and beat it in one night and was totally satisfied with my purchase.

Posted by Aeterna

It seems i'm one of the few people that play FEAR in the middle of the night, sound turned way on and all lights off; it's an awesome game. People don't say that enough.

Posted by ThePhenomenal1

i've been taking my time with fear 2. playing one interval a night it seems. i'm extremely enjoying it. its a game that you can stretch out a good bit like condemned 2.

Posted by ReTarDedFisHy

Haha, loved the ending.

Posted by StressedOutCat

Good Review... loved the bit at the end!

Posted by KnightsofRound

ROFL @ the ending

Posted by JoblessTerence

Great review Ryan. Nice jam out at the end.

Posted by SlimDogg95

Another great video review. But i think i am going to wait for this one to drop in price before i pick it up.

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