After a nearly four year wait, two expansion packs, a change of publishers, and a title change, the follow up to our 2005 Game of the Year award winner F.E.A.R. is finally here. After successfully obtaining the rights to the name F.E.A.R., the new sequel is called F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin instead of the planned Project Origin. Regardless of what it is called, developer Monolith Productions and Publisher Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment have unleashed one of the best 3D shooters and action games ever made.
These time out players are put in the role of Sgt Michael Becket as you and your team are dispatched to obtain Aristide, an executive with Armacham Technology Corporation. Starting roughly thirty minutes before the climatic events that concluded the first team, you race through various locales doing battle with private security and fearsome Armacham Black Op soldiers as well as the deadly Replica soldiers.
Following a spectacular visual sequence, the player wakes up and finds that he has been altered and now has superior reflexes and speed which like in the original allows players to enter a bullet time mode and move much faster than your enemies and their gunfire. This as before, results not only in a wide range of possible tactics but some truly amazing combat as gunfire whizzes past you in slow motion as do clouds of fire, debris, and blood.
With his new abilities, Becket has drawn the attention of Alma who appears throughout the game and when she is knock off and brutally dispatching all those in her path, and thinning the ranks of Becket’s support team, she is grappling with Beckett himself. In one of the games new combat features, players can grapple with Alma and other enemies by clicking the mouse buttons. Successfully clicking the buttons fast enough allows players to land a blow and gain a tactical advantage. If a player is to slow, they often do not get the chance to recover from their mistake.
It is learned that Alma is attempting to absorb Becket, and with the surviving members of his team, he must battle against legions of enemies and get to a top secret facility in order to amplify his new powers. It is hoped that once this is done, Becket will have a chance to face and defeat Alma and that only he alone can end the destruction that has been unleashed.
This of course is easier said than done as a never ending legion of foes with some of the best A.I. and tactics you will ever face are waiting for you. The great ability that enemies displayed in the first game to take cover and avoid fire has been enhanced as enemies will not set traps, move objects as they advance to provide rolling cover, leap, roll, and jump to avoid incoming fire.
In a nice twist, players can now use objects to provide cover such as knocking over a table or desk.
One of my favorite tactics was to pull over an object and then place a proximity grenade shortly before activating my bullet time and moving away at a high rate of speed. Once normal speed resumed, enemies that made the mistake of advancing on my position often got an unexpected surprise.
The game also has explosive barrels and clever items such as power boxes and fire extinguishers which can be used with explosive and devastating results. The joy of the game is being able to find ways to make your environment work for you by using electrical current and other factors to set traps and help even the odds when faced against superior numbers.
The weaponry in the game is first rate as players are able to take up to four weapons with them. There were pistols, machine guns, shotguns, and a nice addition to the nail gun known as the “Hammerhead” as well as a sniper rifle and missile launcher. New weapons included a plasma weapon and a great laser that allowed you to slice up your enemies and a napalm weapon. There are also several grenade types such as proximity, frag, incendiary, and a great one that is essentials and E.M.P. blast that disables tech based enemies.
As good as those weapons were they paled in comparison to the Mech stages of the game where I was able to ride an assault Mech and cut down enemies with chain guns and rocket fire. There are also segments of the game where players can use the mounted gun on their A.P.C. unit in order to mow down advancing enemy forces.
The enemies are a lot more than your usual 3D shooter heavies as aside from the clever tactics they can deploy, they are armed to the teeth and often take a barrage of hits to bring down. There are also some supernatural and stealth based enemies to content with who delight in sneak attacks in dark areas.
Players also have the ability to melee and use the unarmed combat moves that were established in the first game as well.
The level designs were good and the impressive graphic engine really allowed the detail level of maps such as a lab, hospital, subway, factory, school, apartment complexes, and much more.
The voice acting and music in the game are a cut above the standard fare and while the game was not as intense from a scare point as the original, the action and intensity of this game were beyond compare.
F.E.A.R. 2 also offers great multiplay as I enjoyed Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and the other online modes. I hope to see new maps in the near future and would love to be able to bring the mech battles into the game at some point.
The game allows players to setup controls in the way they chose, but I was stunned to see that game did not offer a save system and instead opted for a check point save system. This was a big disappointment to me as like many gamers, I do not enjoy having to replay portions of a level should I be killed.
I did experience a couple of technical hiccups such as some lag when using bullet time in one instance and a couple of delays when new areas were accessed. Despite this, using my Razer Lachesis and Lycosa I was able to deftly move about the games with ease and I love using the Razer Destructor gaming pad as it truly added to my online and solo play experience with greater mouse tracking.
All in all the game was highly addictive and enjoyable and is an early leader for our game of the year award. I just hope the wait until the next chapter is not as long as F.E.A.R. 2 is a true classic that delivers the goods gamers want and deserve.
4.5 stars out of 5.