14 Days of Halloween: Shouldn’t You Guys Be Attacking Ethan Thomas? – DeadMan’s F.E.A.R. 2 Review
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I just want to start this review saying that this game kind of holds a special place in my heart. If this game had not been made this site never would have existed. For that, I thank Monolith and Warner Bros. Interactive for putting this game out.
Probably since 1997, Monolith has shown it can make a good first person horror game. Over the last 5 years they have really been showing us with the Condemned and F.E.A.R. series, mixing pretty decent first person action with games that are actually atmospheric and scary. This talent continues to be shown in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.
Starting just before the end of F.E.A.R. the player is put in control of Michael Becket, a member of Delta Force. He and his team are assigned to capture Genevieve Aristide, the president of Armacham, the company that tortured the young and now very pissed off psychic Alma Wade. Of course once you try to do this everything goes to shit and you end up trying to stop Alma and save the world… or something.
In terms of gameplay, not much has changed from what I have played of the first one (I never actually finished it. Sorry). You can run and jump as well as melee and shoot dudes. The guns all feel really good when shooting. You have your standard armaments for an FPS: shotgun, pistol, assault rifle, submachine gun, rocket launcher, sniper rifle. But since this is also a sci-fi kinda game, you have some none standard weapons like the laser gun and, one of my favorites, the Hammerhead. It fires high-powered nails that stick guys to walls, and it is pretty awesome. All the shooting plays like every other modern shooters. You can fire from the hips and aim down the sights. Aside from the shooting, there are also one or two sequences where you take control of a giant ass robot. They have miniguns and rocket launchers and it changes things up nicely. Up to these points you have been playing pretty carefully (Well, if you play like me you have been) so getting into a giant robot that is pretty hard to kill and just mashing the triggers until everything is dead is extremely satisfying.
However, whenever you are not in the giant robots you have to fight the giant robots, just one of the enemies you’ll face throughout the game. The only time you can really kill them is during boss fights and when you have EMP grenades (helpful tip). Other than them you have to fight Armacham’s private military and rogue clone soldiers, both of whom are like any other person you have to fight in a shooter. They all have weapons, they all take cover and they all bleed very nicely. Later on the game you start fighting some non-standard enemies, like these weird wall-crawling guys that look an awful lot like the crackheads from the hotel level in Condemned 2. There is also this one weird looking thing that brings dead soldiers back to life with red wires that come out of its ass. About halfway through (I think) you start to fight these assassin dudes who are like the wall-crawling crackheads but this time their invisible. The cutscene where they are introduced is one of my favorites. But if none of those enemies interest you, and if your really lucky (and get to that point in the story) you can “fight” Alma, which entirely consists of mashing B (or circle on PS3) until she disappears.
Speaking of Alma, let’s move onto the characters. Alma herself appears to be a bigger part of the game than I understand she was in the first one. We start to learn more of her past and what happened to her at Armacham. She also has a pretty powerful impact on many characters. Different people will react differently when Alma appears. Some will freak out (as one should) but some will try to kill you for Alma or try get to Alma, sometimes to kill her but other times not so much. When you see her, she also appears differently. Instead of just being a little girl it also shows her as a young adult (to be honest she is kinda hot here) and shows her as an old lady that looks a lot like a skinny version of the bathtub lady from The Shining.
Alma is not the only character of importance here. Becket, your character, also has a part to play. Like the Point Man from the first game, he too can slow down time to shoot dudes better. There is a storyline explanation for this but I will leave it for anybody who hasn’t played the game to find out. Becket is a silent protagonist so you won’t really get too attached to him. The other characters aren’t really there to elicit any kind of emotion either. Everyone just feels like they’re there to keep the story moving and to keep the walls freshly coated with their entrails.
As stated above, F.E.A.R. 2 is a very atmospheric game. A lot of the environments, even if they don’t start out that way, are pretty dark and spooky. When you get into wide open spaces it is usually all messed up and at this point it becomes a standard FPS, but the real meat and two veg of this game is the hallway crawl and the dreamscape. In the hallways lights are flickering on and off, blood is smeared across the walls and there are so many doors you don’t know what’s coming from where. The dreamscapes are all brought on by Alma and either show something pretty messed up or something that is just different enough in the right way to freak you out.
In kind of contrast with the environment the character models are a little bit bad. All the named characters have kind of blocky looking faces and their hair looks like one big texture. All the clone and Armacham soldiers look essentially the same aside from the different looks for the flamethrower guys and heavy guys. The best looking (or worst looking, I guess) characters are the monsters. Say what I will about the look of their regular people, Monolith can make a grody-ass looking freak. The animation on these things looks like a long-haired Japanese girl did some mo-cap for them, and the Predator style camo on the assassins is really great. There were a couple of instances where I got really freaked thinking I saw something move out of the corner of my characters eye, it was so good.
All in all, F.E.A.R. 2 is a very solid game. It plays well for a shooter with some good, if not cookie-cutter, weapons and some good sci-fi style weapons in the laser and giant robot. The characters are not the best looking but the monsters and all the messed up shit is great looking. It is very atmospheric and is actually capable of scaring you from time to time. The story is pretty good and gives you a good look into Alma’s past, who is still by far the best character in the game. I know I’m like a year late with this review but I still felt like this should be said. If you have not already gotten this game and looking for a good, pretty scary shooter you could do much, much worse than F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.
Final Score: 4/5