|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Monolith Productions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Warner Bros.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 10, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
August 6, 2008 - Project Origin, the sequel to the fan favorite F.E.A.R., is nearly finished and will be available on the first of October. The gritty story of the horror shooter is back, but this time fans will be treated to a devastated world thats far more diverse. Also, the team at Monolith has amped up the scare factor by releasing a matured Alma upon the world. Combine these factors with improved combat, even better A.I., and killer mech suits and youve got a recipe for success.
The original title did a masterful job of melding intense, shooter action with an interesting horror storyline. It was also known for its impressive enemy A.I. Unfortunately, the game began to feel a bit monotonous after a while, while clearing out loads of office buildings, warehouses, and the like. Consequently, I never was fully engaged by the plot and horror elements. However, after spending some time with devs at Monolith in a lengthy guided demo, I can assure everyone who felt like I did that the few hiccups seem to have been resolved.The game will take place some 20 minutes before the end F.E.A.R. If youve played through the first title, youll know something big is on the horizon for Project Origins protagonist, Michael Becket, to deal with. After this event, players will find themselves laid up in a hospital and will have to try and reorganize their squad in a city thats literally been turned to hell.
Upon entering the world of Project Origin, players will instantly recognize a massive visual upgrade this time around. During the demo, there was constantly a screen full of explosions and mayhem that never slowed down the hardware. Plus, the environments and level design is immaculately rendered and exponentially more interesting. In fact, Dave Matthews from Monolith drove home the fact that the game is much more varied from the last outing, and it should do a much better job of bringing disparate groups of players into the fold. Besides, the blood effects splatter, pop, and squirt in gory glory.
Additionally, enemy A.I. is even more engaging this time around. If you thought it was tough in the first game, then watch out. Enemies will constantly flank you, work in pairs, and use cover. Fortunately, the devs have helped to keep players playing longer and advancing the story without a break by creating a regenerating health system. Dont worry though, this doesnt mean Project Origin is easier, it just seems much more balanced. Players will still have to get through some extremely harry firefights and deal with the haunting persona of Alma.
Speaking of Alma, she really comes into her own in Project Origin. The creepy playfulness of the dark child has grown into a much greater threat, as she is now almost a mature woman. This new dynamic should lead to interesting interactions and terrifying situations. In truth, the devs have promised that to be the case. In other words, the deep storyline from the first game has not just been maintained, it has also been amplified.
For those of you that loved the slow motion abilities of F.E.A.R., you will be happy to know that the mechanic is back. This should prove very useful against Replicant soldiers that use tables and cars for cover. Thankfully, this time, players will also be able to use environmental objects to gain the same advantages from cover and improve their tactics.
Of course, later in the game you can completely throw caution to the wind by hopping into a mech suit. Fans of the original longed to hop into the Powered Armor that beset them in F.E.A.R. Well, Monolith has listened and has included a far superior version of which players can take control called Elite Powered Armor (EPA) mech suits that simply tear the enemy apart. I can assure you that these suits, while somewhat gimmicky to the uninitiated, are full of explody-awesomeness. Truly, this mechanic didnt seem contrived at all; it just looked like a whole lot of fun.
Supposedly the game is still in development, but the extended glimpse we were afforded looked incredibly polished and enticing. That means these next two months will be filled with minor tweaks and should result in a solid release. Unfortunately, nothing was revealed about multiplayer and online capabilities. However, there will some kind of co-op and battle play. Fortunately, players can look forward to about 10-15 hours of solid single-player gameplay to get them warmed up for Halloween.
CCC Editor / News Director