Warner Bros. Interactive
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
From: Warner Bros. Interactive
For: Xbox 360
Genre: First-Person, Horror, Shooter
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
The long awaited sequel to one of the very best games of 2005, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin simply fails to live up to its pedigree.
While it contains most of the superlative elements that made the original famous -- believably reactive A.I. enemies, haunting bouts of apparitional psychosis, provisional slo-mo berserker rampages, paranormal genetic mutation science gone awry sensibilities, a shotgun -- none of it seem original anymore, much less innovative.
And while the narrative that propels you along is serviceable, it's also cliché, told in part through eerie little psychotic breaks suggesting that you, the one-man-army who just showed up, are somehow integral to the systemic, long-time-coming folly of it all.
Blood soaked little sweetie Alma with her tortured little soul and harbinger-of-doom tendencies is now affectionately referred to as "the mother of the apocalypse" and makes routine appearances meant to startle and scare but really only serve as bloody bread-crumb trail markers. Geez Alma, grab a mop. And put some clothes on. The story is augmented by little snippets of intel gleaned from the logs of recently butchered scientist and janitors, which you pick up alongside quaint little packets of health, "reflex injectors," armor and ammo scattered about. How convenient.
But you need not read said intel because for one thing, it doesn't explain much if you haven't played the first game and doesn't help much if you have.
Secondly, F.E.A.R. 2 is so woefully swaddled in corridor-shooter trappings that you only need follow the one available path to the next level, gunning down everything along the way. Seriously, you cannot shake the sense that you're living the conveyor belt life. Though you're mighty enough to topple a vending machine with one hand to make some impromptu cover (which is pretty cool), you'll not once manage to shove a little cardboard box aside so as to explore the vast and inviting chamber it's blocking.
And third, who reads intel these days? For all your real-time heads-up-display sunglasses and permanent uplink to computerized command centers, would it be too much to ask for someone to read said intel aloud so you could run and gun without the little e-book sessions? Ever heard of a voice recorder? Text-to-speak technologies? Holographic projectors a la Dead Space
? No? You'll start to pine for an armchair, a fireplace and a cup of tea for all the reading expected of you. Or, as mentioned, you could ignore the intel and just run and gun.
As it happens, running and gunning is about all F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is good for, but at least it's really good at delivering that. Great looking, gory, explosive and often harrowing runs with guns bogged down only slightly by predictable level design and supercilious survival/horror superfluities.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin TIP - Don't follow the script. When enemy soldiers run for cover or sidle into position, that's all they'll be doing for a couply-few seconds; a good time to rush and shoot 'em while they sidle.