FEAR 2: Project Origin picks up immediately after the end of the first game. This reviewer has to take the publisher’s word for that, having thrown in the towel on the first game around two-thirds through.
The reason? The ghost story had long run out of steam, and what was left – once the ghostly figure hokum had become less than scary – was an above-average first person shooter with some truly brilliant enemy artificial intelligence. But there was little incentive to play it right the way through to the end, and so this reviewer didn’t.
Straight out the gate and it’s clear that, on the visual front at least, FEAR 2 has seen a lot of love. The graphics are refined, stylised and atmospheric and, even with the HD 3850 in our testbed system, were chugging along well, only putting too much pressure on the machine when one of the cinematic sequences kicked in.
And those sequences really look quite something, building the tension and atmosphere of the game nicely. In fact, it’s fair to say that this is somewhere that FEAR 2 excels. There are moments where it’s simply joyous to sit back and watch it, so keen is it to entertain you and keep you on your toes.
But once it’s started firing its box of tricks at you, there’s a feeling of déjà vu that also starts to slot into place. For FEAR 2, as it doesn’t take long to become apparent, is content to do what its predecessor did, just throwing a few more bells and whistles on top.
This is no redefining or advancement of the first person shooter genre. Instead it’s a spit and polish, with slightly less claustrophobic levels. The game also allows you to slow time and has a decent cover system. But it’s all gravy, rather than working on the main dish.
It should be noted, nonetheless, that FEAR 2 has a real ability to put your trousers in danger. The supernatural elements work a bit better and certainly for longer this time, as Alma, the sinister little girl, seeks to hurl her wrath in the direction of, well, pretty much everyone. What makes you buy all of this are the sky-high production values, not least the exquisite work on the audio side of things, and events do get genuinely creepy when the game hits top gear.
FEAR 2, to its credit, never drops below very entertaining, and when you start to play with the likes of the mech suit it’s deliciously good fun. Even in the simple prowl-and-shoot moments it’s well done, despite that feeling of déjà vu to contend with.
It’s quite short, on the downside, and a third FEAR game – while an attractive proposition – is going to have its work cut out and will need to try something to shake the series up. But this will do perfectly nicely for now. It’s a polished and entertaining shooter, and a spooky one too.
Company: Warner Bros Interactive