I was never really afraid of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. If anything, I was happy.
That probably sounds strange considering we’re talking about a game with tons of blood and a crazy dead girl with the power to bend minds.
But it’s everything surrounding the creepiness that makes this game one of the cooler shooters of the year. Unlike “Dead Space,” which constantly chewed away at your comfort zone, F.E.A.R. 2 elects to give your sense of reality a hard shake and a slap when you least expect it.
This time, you play new protagonist Michael Becket, part of a black ops team sent to take in the president of Armacham, the mega corporation from the original F.E.A.R.
The story starts right before the ending of the first F.E.A.R., which culminated in a nuclear-like detonation of a secret facility, courtesy of the main character of the first game. You and your team get knocked out from the explosion, and you wake up in a hospital. From there, you start to piece together the real story.
The central enemy, once again, is Alma Wade, the young girl with psychic powers who tore up everyone’s psyche in the first game. But in this edition, she’s much older and a bit of a twisted showoff, walking around naked in sudden visions and hallucinations that bombard Becket throughout the game.
The visions, above everything else, are the most enticing part of the experience. Not only do they show off the game’s outstanding sound quality, but they also provide a sense of scale for Alma’s immense power. As if turning one of your teammates into a bloody smear on the wall isn’t enough.
When she’s not trying to reach out and grab you, she’ll hit you sepia-toned vision featuring a grass field and a swing set. You’ll hear her voice. You’ll see her randomly appear in the shadows.
Other times, she’ll hit you with visions that resemble film interpretations of Hell, complete with flaming, blown-out buildings.
The most frightening moments of the game occur when Alma starts interacting with the environment. The visions are at their scariest when Becket goes to an elementary school to find out more information about Alma’s past. Blood on the walls, school bells ringing when there are clearly no students anymore, rattling lockers — these are just part of the sensory fun.
Even with all this, you have to fight off Armacham mercenaries who have their own agenda, as well as the occasional mutated psychotic monster. The AI does a good job of keeping you on your strategic toes, with enemies that try to flank you at timely opportunities, along with knocking over tables or other items for cover.
The game’s weapon selection is solid, but doesn’t inspire your inner hellraiser like the weapons of Resistance 2 or even the Gears of War games.
One exception, of course, is the nail gun (what I call it), where you can literally pin enemies to the wall with spikes launched at high velocity. The game is rated M for Mature, by the way.
Another exception is the powered suit of mechanized armor, which can wipe out gobs of enemies with machine guns and missiles.
This provides great moments of stress relief, but nothing much more than walking around and blowing everything up. And, as in the first game, you have the ability to slow down time so you can fight larger groups of foes. It’s a useful, essential skill that has more applications than just in battle.
Wrapping all this up is the game’s gasp-worthy ending, which I won’t spoil, but will remember for quite some time. It’s not really a happy one, and it certainly leaves the door open for another installment. If it makes the leap like this game did, then that’ll just mean more fear and joy for anyone who checks it out.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
Xbox 360, PS3
Rated M for Mature
Warner Bros. Interactive