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F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin is the second in Monolith's first person horror video game franchise, and, from a story perspective it completely ignores the separately developed expansion packs to the previous game, Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate. It is rated '18' for strong bloody violence and gore, language, horror and nudity.
You and the rest of the F.E.A.R operatives (a team devised to combat supernatural threats to those who haven't played the first game) have woken up in a psychic commander creation centre, where subjects are operated on to be able to psychically control a deadly army. However, the technology is brutal and unperfected, so following a lot of blood and operation, as well as reporting, the building comes under siege, putting you in the fray of battle once more, but this time you don't have a gun from the word 'go'.
You learn as the story progresses that you were a particularly strong psychic commander and Alma Wade, the creepy psychic ghost girl who has become an image of the series, knows you're there without amplification, that other subjects needed to be able to communicated. The bad news, now Alma wants you, and she will stop at nothing to get you.
F.E.A.R 2 is very much similar to its predecessor in terms of gameplay, its still all about shooting the bad guys with guns and in slow motion, all the while occasionally being stalked by a mildly eerie Alma Wade.
The guns are still as powerful feeling as the guns in the original, and the slow motion still just as satisfying - a few things have been added to the mix to keep the game up to today's trends though. These include ironsights and more 'linear' game levels. These aren't a problem in my book, but I know that a few people that absolutely loved the original games were annoyed by these new additions. Personally, I see no reason why the new additions are bad, especially the ironsights - which in my opinion make the shooting a lot more satisfying, but some massive fans find it distracting and didn't like it.
The only changes from the original FEAR game that I really didn't like at all were the vehicle sections - namely those where you had to drive a mesh through the 'Project Origin' facility. It just felt so bland and uninteresting to play, and I had absolutely no idea why the developers would implement such a terrible idea into an otherwise fun game
The linear game levels, in my opinion, are also good because it allows for a more full on way of accessing the storyline, instead of having to search for an object that is hidden away, eventually having to resort to watching a walkthrough and completely breaking immersion while you do it, the majority of the game is very obvious and easy to navigate. Some die-hard FEAR fans may have enjoyed the item searching, but for me, the fact they removed the searching from FEAR 2, at least to such an extent that it is in the original, overjoyed me.
The original F.E.A.R's graphics, especially for the time, were absolutely astounding. It was released in a time where dynamic shadows were practically unheard of, and many games didn't even use pixel shaders. At the time, it was a hard game to muster, and even today it isn't ugly by any means. However, this means expectations for 'Project Origin' were pretty high, and to be honest, they don't really meet the graphical requirement that fans were expecting. Sure, the game has a few pretty effects but it fails to match up to the sheer level of graphical glory that accompanied the original F.E.A.R.
However, just because of its console limited graphics doesn't mean that it is by any means ugly - the game still looks pretty fair, and the graphics contribute to the atmosphere well, especially at certain points of the game. However, there are times throughout where the textures and models look a little drab, and it's a shame that its predecessor out does it graphically.
Any horror-game knows that sound is important, and the sounds used in F.E.A.R 2 are pretty good, apart from some pretty ridiculous voice acting (mostly from a suitably ridiculous character who helps you over a radio channel, while only referring to himself by the pseudonym 'Snake Eye'), but the music and the weapon sounds are all pretty fantastic.
Also, when the character decides to go into bullet-time (a slowed down version of time which gives players more of a chance to shoot all the enemies before they shoot back), the in-game sounds, even dialogue, slows also. A nice touch that some games don't do very well.
The multi-player is most certainly not where F.E.A.R 2 shines, Monolith neglected to release the game without dedicated servers or anti-cheat, leaving the game effectively dead for the PC. There are still a few players, but it's impossible to rank up as no one plays ranked anymore, possibly due to an imbalance caused by more experienced players showing off their kit on the battlefield.
The multiplayer isn't that much fun either, the majority of the time I was left completely blinded by flashbangs and disorientated, completely confused what direction I'm even facing. I'm unsure if this is a result of cheaters, which in turn a result of the lack of anti-cheat. The one thing that I learned from the multiplayer is that it was rather hard to not end up dead with a white, flash-banged screen and a respawn timer. It was then I realised why the community wasn't exactly the most active community in the land.
Other than the hard-as-nails multiplayer mode that Monolith seem to have (apparently unintentionally) employed, the game can get a little difficult at times, especially when the firefights are raging and you have very little health left. There are very few times, if any, however where you cannot pass a level second or third time, and I've didn't encounter a single level where it was so hard to pass it that it became incredibly frustrating.
Mind you, I was playing on the easiest mode, as I play for the storyline of games, not the difficulty, so more 'hardcore' players could turn the difficulty right up to their highest settings, but that would leave me slaughtered in a bloody pile on the floor, so I'll stay at the easiest option thank you very much.
==Longevity/Value for Money==
The F.E.A.R games always represent the best value for money for me. I play them all the way through and will occasionally (if I'm in an optimistic mood) try the multiplayer. At the end of the campaign, my mouth generally drops open, and as the credits roll I feel like I well and truly feel like I've got my money's worth. The fact that I got the original F.E.A.R, it's expansions, this and it's downloadable content in a Steam deal for £9.99 probably helped the feeling that I got my money's worth with this purchase also.
F.E.A.R 2 is, like most of the games I review, hardly child friendly. It contains a fair amount of violence, language and what could be deemed as 'sexual' content. Details of each of these can be found below.
The F.E.A.R series is traditionally violent, characters left right and centre are bloodied up by supernatural girl Alma Wade and shot up by other characters in the storyline.
There is a significant level of violence dealt from the character you are playing with a variety of weapons, in an attempt to survive the replica soldiers and other forces.
The character regularly finds bloodied rooms littered with corpses or witness people being killed, occasionally in a rather gruesome way.
Much less than the previous game to be honest, but there still are a few 'f**k's and 's**t's dropped from time to time. There are also some other, considerably milder, expletives - as well as a few insults, but that's the least of your worries if I am perfectly honest.
Alma (who is female) appears naked from time to time. There is no sexualisation whatsoever, and the character only appears very briefly and suddenly for a very short time with the intention of scaring the player. Her breasts are obscured by her hair, other places, however, are not.
There is a first person scene in which Alma rapes the player, it is not graphics, you see nothing and it's for story purposes.
*end of spoiler*
The entire game uses gore to create fear and uneasiness. The sounds are also designed to do just that. It succeeds for the most part, but some players may find the frightening scenes more intense than other players. Younger, more sensitive players or those prone to medical conditions resulting from an unexpected jump should not play this game.
Some may find the gory scenes uneasy or disturbing.
The content isn't as bad as the original F.E.A.R, but it's still a pretty mature game, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone less than fifteen years of age, or possibly older, depending on how the person is affected by mature content.
NOTE: There is an option to turn the blood in the game off, using the 'Low violence' option from the options menu.
This is a fantastic game, and while the multiplayer isn't quite up to scratch, and some existing fans of the previous game may moan about the new additions or 'consolised' graphics, there is really nothing stopping you from buying this game. It truly is worthwhile, especially at the extraordinarily low price that the game is going for today. Buy it, and be happy about it, especially if you like creepy little girls.
CPU: P4 2.8GHz (3.2GHz Vista)/Athlon 64 3000+ (3200+ Vista)
GPU: Fully DX9-compliant graphics card with 256MB (SM 2.0b). NVidia 6800 or ATI X700.
Memory: 1GB (1.5GB Vista)
OS: Windows XP SP2/Vista SP1
Sound: DX9.0c compliant
Optical drive: DVD (boxed only)
I give F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin 4/5