Friday, February 21, 2014

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

F.E.A.R. 2, subtitled Project Origin, introduces a new protagonist, Michael Becket, a Delta Force operator. But as he is mute like Point Man, there is not much of a difference. Somewhat similarly Becket also gets tied to Alma and soon enough you are off to stopping her again. Or attempting to anyway; how often is evil ever actually stopped in horror games and movies?

Like in the original game, the story does not have much meat to it. But as F.E.A.R. 2 is hours shorter, it does not matter as much. While the gameplay is mostly the same, many things are more polished in the sequel. There is finally sprinting and you can also vault over waist-high obstacles if there is no room to jump. The engine is an improved one as well, and as a result, everything looks better. And maybe thanks to that, the atmosphere is not as oppressive either.

The added detail also reduces the effectiveness of the apparitions, which the game really shoves at your face during the supposedly spooky bits. I got used to them quickly, and only jumped a bit when Alma first sneaked behind me in Aristide's apartment. The last remnants of dread are gone when you embark a mech, which at least on Medium difficulty seemed rather powerful. There are also turret sections that I found pleasant enough as the guns were so entertaining to use.

The weapon selection otherwise is not as wide, especially if you compare it to F.E.A.R.'s expansions, but at least there is an actual sniper rifle in the second game. The scoped three-round-burst rifle in the first game never felt as powerful as the bolt-action sniper rifle.

Of F.E.A.R. 2's enemies I must mention the abominations, which kind of failed to be scary; they look and even sound like Gollum. And that I found funny. Gameplay wise they were mostly an annoyance, being able to jump on you like the husks in Mass Effect 3.

The game's development was obviously driven more by consoles -- or less effort was put in the PC port -- as the "Press any key to continue" screen makes apparent right from the start. I got somewhat worried how much that would affect the game. Fortunately, hardly at all, as it turned out. The sole exception was the lack of manual saving. And I really dislike that. You have to stop playing right after a checkpoint or needlessly replay a part when resuming. What is it with consoles that makes manual saving not to be an option anyway?

F.E.A.R. 2 is a solid and polished first person shooter. It is fairly enjoyable but lacks innovation and replay value. And thus I won't be touching it again.

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