F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (Xbox 360) - Mania.com



Game Review

Mania Grade: C+

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  • 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
  • Developer: Monolith
  • Gameplay: C+
  • Graphics: C
  • Sound: C
  • Series:

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (Xbox 360)

A horror/action experience that relies too much on the original.

By Josh Gordon     March 20, 2009


Mania Reviews Warner Bros.' and Monolith's F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin(2009).
© Warner Bros. Interactive, Monolith

 

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.
 
Decent Graphics
 
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?

 
 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
scytheofluna 3/20/2009 7:36:16 AM

Okay, several things from one gamer to another... Never under any circumstances mention the likes of Bioshock or Fallout 3 in the same sentence with Call of Duty.  You want to talk about overrated and generic? Call of Duty is about the most overrated, and unimaginative franchise on the market.  Call of Duty 4 had a 4 hour campaign, and you're saying F.E.A.R. 2 should have launched with a 30 dollar price tag?  If you want to talk about "been there and done that"  maybe you shouldn't include a game  as an example that's about disarming nukes and killing terrorists because as an avid gamer, I've killed more simulated terrorists and disarmed more fictional nukes than Delta, The Berets, GSG9 and SIS put together.  I've been there and done that in so many games that I really don't understand what all of the fuss about COD4 is.  From a technical standpoint the game is fine, the short campaign was okay, and the multiplayer is great if you bought the game the week it came out, but the lack of a matchmaking system makes it a nearly impossible grind for any late comers suffering needless punishment at the hands of high ranking players with perks like silenced weapons and softer footsteps. 

Back to the title at hand though: If you haven't even played the first game in the franchise how in the world can you title your review "A Horror/Action experience that relies too much on the original"?  You have no investment in the story and therefore no frame of reference, and much like other franchises there aren't any "previously on Battlestar Galactica" style flashbacks to catch you up on the action. So you best bet is to GO BUY A TEN DOLLAR USED COPY OF F.E.A.R. BEFORE WRITING A REVIEW ON THE SEQUEL.

Look, I play LOTS of games.  Pretty much, if it's a triple-A FPS, Action, Survival horror, adventure, or Action RPG title I own it within a week of release.  F.E.A.R. 2 got unfair reviews because of it's lack of innovation in multiplayer.  Period.  In every other regard the game was exactly what fans of the franchise wanted it to be, and there was a lot of innovation and imagination in terms of how you carry out your mission.  Nearly every feature of the first game was improved upon, and the environments in the game were suited to the story.

Bottom line the game isn't perfect, and it's no Half Life or Bioshock, but neither was the first F.E.A.R.  This game deserves a solid 8/10 and it's price point was just fine.  Maybe if you'd bothered to play the first one you'd have cared a little more.

 

Mania, if you ever need a game reviewer who can get reviews out within a reasonable span after the game's release let me know.  I finished this title within two days of it's release, all while maintaining a full time job, family etc.  This review is so late it's really pointless at this stage.

JoshGordon 3/20/2009 8:36:09 AM

First of all, I can mention any darn games in the same sentence that I want to. Mario Bros. and Kirby! There, go get your shorts wrapped up in a ball over that.

Secondly, you might find CoD4 generic and overrated but sir, you are in a very small minority. I played that game eight straight months and never stopped having an great time. That game has always been about the multiplayer and while the single player campaign was short it also offered some truly thought provoking and disturbing experiences. I'm not going to defend CoD4s multiplayer mode to you, you don't have to like it. All I'll say as I was a newbie to at one point facing stronger opponants and getting my ass handed to me in mere seconds. I played the game, got better, learned the shit and started plastering newbies cyberbrains all over the walls and, once again, had one of the best times I ever had playing a game. CoD4's single player, for me, and millions of others,  was just prep for the multi-player experience.

Also Mr. Smarty Pants, you say the game deserves an 8 (we have an alphabetical grading scale here not a numerical one), I gave it a C which roughly translates to a 7.9, so if you have nothing better to do than to get pissy over what is essentially a 1% difference in what you thought the game deserved then go play CoD: World at War.

Also Mr. Moneybags, you AGREE with me that the game is no Bioshock or Half-Life (of Fallout 3)! I think it's great for you and your family that you have no trouble whatsoever dropping 60 bones on any darn game you want to but many of us out there don't have that kind of disposable income. One of my duties here is to help people make a decision on what they should drop their hard earned cash on. I have long thought, and I'm not the only one, that a "one price fits all" pricing structure for games isn't appropriate and does a disservice to both the gaming audience and to games that might have an easier time finding an audience at a lower price point. At $60 a pop, much of the gaming audience can't afford to take  risks or make frequent game purchases.

Also Mr. Sequel: A game should absolutely 100% stand on its own. No need to play Fallout 1 or 2 to enjoy #3. No need to play Super Mario Bros. 1 and 2 to enjoy #3 or #4. No need to play Fable 1 to enjoy Fable 2. No need to see Batman Begins to enjoy The Dark Knight. Shall I continue? I'm sure I'm not the only person who hasn't played the first one. I think it's damn important to let other people who haven't played the first one what their experience will be like with FEAR:2. That seems obvious. NOW, Mr. Disposable Income, if you want to buy me a copy of FEAR 1, I'll be happy to play it and get back to you on what I think.

Also Mr. Punctual, there was a mail mixup and I didn't recieve my review copy until quite recently. So, there! A plus to a review that's a little late in coming is that it keeps the game (that you feel deserves so much more of a fair shake than it got) in front of people's eyes after it's fallen off the major radar.

 

 

 

ultrazilla2000 3/20/2009 4:00:56 PM

LOL...Josh your responses were great, BUT, he does have some points!  How come you never played the first F.E.A.R. game if you're a fan of the horror game genre?  It just seems strange you'd have enough interest in the sequel to play and review it, but not the first.   Granted, a game SHOULD be able to be played and understood on it's own, but why would you want to?  A Sequel is only part of the overall story.

Maybe just change the tagline "A horror/action experience that relies too much on the original," into something else...because it really does imply you would have played the first game. 

scytheofluna 3/20/2009 8:20:20 PM

Well, I'm terribly sorry you couldn't pick up on what was happening in the story.  Maybe Kirby and Mario are more your speed since you don't really have to think too much about story context or spending a whopping ten clams on the first game so that you know what's come before.  This game was made for people who played F.E.A.R.  I don't generally make a habit of playing or watching sequels to things I have zero familiarity with, and the first game was a big enough hit that it really didn't make much sense to waste development time and money on flashback sequences for the uninitiated since they're all busy playing Call of Duty.

I could also list just as many games and movies that would make absolutely no sense to people who are unfamiliar with the franchise:  Matrix Reloaded, The Two Towers, Metal Gear Solid 4 (try understanding what the hell is going on in that game without playing the others).   I'm also sorry that you don't make enough money to buy a sixty dollar game so you can review it, or to buy the previous title in the series so you can  understand the backstory.  Most people on limited budgets don't buy games they don't know anything about, or if they want to try it, they rent it first.  Maybe game reviews shouldn't be your focus, if you can't afford a ten dollar used copy of a title that's been out for about 5 years.  There are enough sites that specialize in games and game reviews that muddying the waters with a half assed approach really isn't doing anyone any favours.  I'm not made of money myself, but I wouldn't write a review for a game without properly ensuring I've done my homework (i.e. playing the game that came before it).

Most people who are going to spend 60 dollars on a game will stick to franchises they're familiar with, or do some research before getting into a series they haven't played before, you  know by reading reviews from game websites so worrying about the uninitiated is really something that should be a secondary concern.

As for the game not being Bioshock or Half Life, those are hardly fair comparisons, as they remain the best two shooters in existence, and that's the point that I was trying to make that you apparently missed.  Yet when you pit the single player campaign against something like Call of Duty 4, it's far more original and innovating that Infinity Ward's award winner.  I never said COD 4 is a bad game, but it's overrated.  Multiplayer isn't everything and not every game needs that focus to be worthwhile.   Personally, if a game is so poorly balanced that it punishes people who are new to the game regardless of their skill, I don't find that to be an appealing way to spend my time.  I'm damned good at shooters in general, and getting my ass stomped because some douchebag who lives with his parents and has a dozen perks is getting matched up with me is not a fun way to spend my day.  I'd much rather play something that rewards skill rather than punishing new players, and matches players with people who are of the same approximate skill level.  So I stand by my statement that COD 4 has no business being mentioned in the same sentence as Fallout 3 and Bioshock.  Those games were actually innovative, and unique.  COD 4 while technically impressive had no substance and is merely a next gen counterstrike with some cool control additions.  Big frakking deal.  There's nothing about it that makes it a reasonable comparison to a survival horror FPS like F.E.A.R. or F.E.A.R. 2.

For fans of the F.E.A.R. franchise this game was everything it was supposed to be, and innovated in the genre.  How many survival horror FPS franchises can you name, by the way?   Not too many for anyone to have "been there and done that too many times".

JoshGordon 3/20/2009 10:48:14 PM

Good Lord, I just spent 10 minutes writing a response that, somehow, didn't get posted. Ugh. I'll get back to it later but Thanks Ultrazilla for appreciated the humor :)

JoshGordon 3/20/2009 11:49:07 PM

Great. Mania isn't posting anything that takes me longer than five minutes to write. this is the second time I've had my post munched..

scytheofluna 3/21/2009 2:43:16 PM

Look, I'm not trying to be a dick, but stating that a game relies too much on it's predecessor when you haven't played the original game doesn't make any sense, and stating that you couldn't afford to buy or rent the original game is just a lame justification for doing a half assed review a month late.   F.E.A.R. 2 has far more in common with the Darkness or Resident Evil than it does something like Fallout 3 or Call of Duty and in terms of substantive immersion it's not on the same level as something like Bioshock or Half Life, but it's still a damned good game.  The narrative is obviously a blend of Western action cinema and Japanese horror influences, and we've all seen bullet time in games before, but the franchise mixes these elements in a way that hasn't been done before.  Technically the game is on par with most top tier FPS franchises aside from multiplayer, and it controls beautifully and looks fantastic. 

Regardless F.E.A.R. is something you play for the narrative and the ambiance, and if your one major criticism of the game is that you didn't understand what was going on enough to enjoy the title for what it is, then you really cheated yourself by not playing the title's predecessor.  If it took you a long time to get the game in the mail, you could have taken the time to prepare for it's arrival by investing a weekend rental at Blockbuster to try out the first one.  I do think that it's a little amusing that you jumped all defensive, sarcastic and whiny because I called you out on reviewing something without the proper context, but feel free to defend your work as you see fit.  Professional game reviewers don't review sequels without playing the original games.  I could do your job, and if that pisses you off, I can live with that, but don't get all upset because I pointed out that your logic is flawed.


todd890 9/2/2010 7:57:40 AM

This doesn't seem like a review it reads more  like one persons opinon of it.

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