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The original F.E.A.R. was an interesting blend of stylish gun play and horror movie frights which felt fresh and featured a fairly ambitious and unique storyline. The sequel, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin picks up before the end of the last game and casts you in a completely new role. There is plenty of stylish slow motion shooter action and there are several jumpy moments as the mysterious little girl Alma seems to be stalking you. The graphics are improved and the game-play has been refined. This is hardly ground breaking stuff but it is a solid, enjoyable first-person shooter which should give you several hours of well designed action. Perhaps not one of the best horror games ever made but you could do a lot worse.
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You play as Michael Beckett, a member of a First Encounter Assault Recon team and as you embark on the first mission you are knocked into oblivion by the explosion that ended the original game. It is a good opening and you wake up in a hospital with psychic powers. The plot is fairly predictable and clichéd but the action has been improved and the fire fights are more engaging than they were first time around. Sadly the horror, though well done, is now familiar and fails to have the impact it did in the first game.
You get your hands on a range of weaponry throughout the game and you’ll even control a mech at one point. Of course you can activate your amazing reflexes for a burst of slow motion shooting whenever you want. The AI offers a decent challenge and they employ relatively sensible tactics, taking cover behind the movable objects and trying to flank you. The ability to flip over a table is a nice feature which you can take advantage of as well but it adds little to the game-play and you’ll have more success wading into the fight aggressively.
Some of the enemies you’ll face are really nasty and in addition to the clones, high tech ninjas and mercenaries there are also paranormal nasties like the remnant. Alma continues to pop up throughout via ghostly sequences and remains creepy although her sudden appearances are now quite familiar. The pacing is good and talented developer Monolith has definitely made some effort to mix up the game-play with some variety and greater range of environments.
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As you would expect this looks better than the first game and the main improvement is the back drops. There is a great deal more variety in the environments and they are well modelled and quite atmospheric with good lighting and some great visual effects which add to the mood. You’ll pass through a school, science facility and the wreckage of the city streets as you progress through the game. The creatures you encounter are well modelled and animated, some of them are even vaguely creepy but to be honest there is nothing that stands out as truly unique. You encounter so many science experiments gone wrong and evil spirits in games that they all seem pretty unremarkable by now.
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The multiplayer modes are the usual suspects with deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and capture the point. There is a points system which limits your set up choices and a new mode called Armored Front which includes mechs but obviously there is no slow motion game-play and the horror hook is missing which makes it a fairly standard FPS experience. With so many dedicated multiplayer FPS games out there the reasons to play this one are not entirely clear.
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You need a good system to get the best out of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. You will want a 2.8 GHz processor, at least 1GB RAM, 12GB of hard drive space, a DirectX 9c compatible sound card and either a 256MB GeForce 6800 or a Radeon X700 or better graphics card. It is a stable game so you’ll be able to play on max settings without a problem if you have a decent system. Make sure you have headphones to get the best out of the atmospheric sound.
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F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is a good first-person shooter and it definitely works to get under your skin and make you sweat. It conforms to expectations with a standard story line and little innovation but it is well designed and crafted and there is no doubt that it offers an improvement over the first game. If you like a blend of survival horror and plenty of shooting action then you will surely get a kick out of this and it deserves to find a decent audience.