F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (Xbox 360) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, March 20, 2009
What’s Goin’ on?
I haven’t played the first F.E.A.R. but I was intrigued by the recent release of Warner Bros Interactive and Monolith’s sequel F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. I love horror and having finished Dead Space a while ago, I’ve been in the mood for something terrifying. I was hoping that I wouldn’t need to have played the first game in order to enjoy F2. Ideally there would be some kind of back-story fill-in. After playing for about a half an hour I realized that I was going to have to dig deeper for more information since I have no idea what’s going on and F.E.A.R. 2 does no job whatsoever of explaining. After some crack investigative research, I learn that F2 begins a few minutes before F1 ends. Interesting; I still have no idea what’s going on.
So as I’m looking at F.E.A.R on Wikipedia I’m seeing that the N.Y. Times called F1 “as thrilling and involving as Half-Life.” So far, I’m not very thrilled but I am slightly intrigued. As anyone who played F1 probably knows F.E.A.R. was inspired stylistically as a hybrid between Japanese horror and John Woo films. Sounds great but frankly the fear factor is a bit underwhelming early on.
Ultimately F2 is an action shooter with some horror/supernatural underpinnings. Where in Dead Space the horror is front and center, F2 uses the horror sparingly like sprinkles on a scary cupcake.
The Graphics, like the rest of the game, aren’t bad and at some points (some of the creatures) above average but overall everything looks fairly typical. If you’re going to go for realism, the bar has been raised by games like Resident Evil 5 and Call of Duty; if you’re going to go for artistic stylization then the bar has been raised by games like Bioshock and Gears of War.
F.E.A.R. 2 stays within safe and acceptable boundaries while never striving to excel.
Strong A.I. Enemies
The enemy A.I. is easily one of the game’s highest achievements. Black-Ops will yell “oh fuck!” and scatter when you throw a grenade their way. They’ll also intelligently change positions and move up on you, trying to gain a tactical advantage and using nearby furnishings as cover (an option available to the player as well). This A.I. is extremely well implemented and you’re never really safe staying in the same place for too long while under attack.
Time Slowing Action
F2 enjoys throwing numerous enemies at you but gives your character supernaturally fast reflexes which allow you to essentially slow down time to allow you to take on the slew of bad guys. The weapons selection is fairly common and consists of shotgun, pistol, sub-machine gun and automatic rifle among others.
Been There, Done That
What F.E.A.R. 2 does, it does very well but there isn’t anything to make it something truly special. We’ve been there and done that before. Walking around empty hospitals looking for randomly scattered intel, health packs and ammo is really starting to feel a little old. Bioshock is not that different in its gameplay mechanic but it’s done so exquisitely well as to make that style of game play all shiny and new.
The Cost of Fear
F.E.A.R. 2 is a perfectly worthwhile game, I enjoyed my time playing it but it makes a great argument for the necessity of a tiered pricing structure for games. Bioshock, Fallout 3 or Call of Duty may be worthy of a $60 price tag but F.E.A.R. 2 would feel much more respectable at a $30 price point. At twice that much it’s a little pricey and probably worth waiting a few months for a price drop.
If you’re just plain hungry for a no frills shooter that will tide you over until the next triple A title comes along then F2 just might be the hamburger to tide you over until steak goes on sale but you have to ask yourself, do you really want to pay $60 for hamburger?
Mania Grade: C+
Game: F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed), Playstation 3, Games for Windows
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive