F.E.A.R. Was praised for its great enemy AI and scary plot. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin picks up 30 minutes before the first game ended, and it gives us more of exactly what we want – exciting and scary gameplay. In a welcome change from the gray hallway, gray hallway, gray hallway level design of the first installment, F.E.A.R. 2 features enough open spaces that a sniper rifle is a handy weapon to have.
Gameplay is largely the same as in the first game, and that is a good thing. F.E.A.R. featured tight gunplay, intelligent AI, and a fun (although largely unnecessary) implementation of bullet time. F.E.A.R. 2 improves upon two out of three points by featuring a better selection of weapons and throwing enemies into the mix that actually require intelligent use of bullet time (unless you are playing on easy – then the bullet time power is optional but still fun and satisfying to use). Weapons are well-balanced and satisfying to use. There are multiple types of machine guns, a couple shotguns, a pistol, and even a sniper rifle to use in the new wide-open areas. Enemy AI is as good as ever, and I still find myself feeling like I am playing against real people instead of CPU-controlled bots.
On difficulties higher than easy, bullet time is a battlefield necessity. Thankfully, it recharges a bit faster in F.E.A.R. 2 than in the original. There are enemy types in the game that are especially susceptible to bullet time tactics, and normal enemies can be more easily dispatched by environmental factors like electrical transformers and exploding barrels (is there really another kind of barrel in video games?) by slowing down time and lining up a careful shot. F.E.A.R. 2 also features a dynamic cover system. This is not Gears of War where you can only crouch behind preset objects. If an object seems like you should be able to knock it over and use it for cover then you can. Couches, chairs, hospital gurneys, and the like are all valid forms of cover here, and both you and your enemies will need to use all of them if you want to survive. This enemy behavior makes firefights more tense and forces you to think on your feet.
Every sequel needs an added feature or two to differentiate it from its predecessors. F.E.A.R. 2 has added two things to the mix – the aforementioned wide open spaces that make sniper rifles so much fun, and mech suit sections. Mech suits make everything better, and horror FPS is no exception. It is fun to run around and feel like a badass – a giant mech suit with chain guns and a rocket launcher satisfies that need nicely. The mech sections make a great distraction and break up the action very well. I found myself looking forward to them, and they made me appreciate the great FPS gameplay because of the sharp contrast in gameplay mechanics.
F.E.A.R. 2 is a great single-player game. Unfortunately, F.E.A.R. 2 is a mediocre multiplayer game. The entire experience boils down to “grab a mech and spawn camp the enemy.” The game presents a non-choice in that different armor types are available. Wear the heavy armor unless you enjoy watching a respawn timer. F.E.A.R. 2’s multiplayer feels like Halo 3 with a few key differences – it is prettier, it features mechs (which in a stroke of irony do not make it any better), the maps are nowhere near as good, and it is not balanced.
F.E.A.R. 2 is a wonderful single-player game, and fans of horror would do well to pick it up. Just remember to stay away from the multiplayer. Bioshock showed us that it is still possible to craft a great game without tacking on a multiplayer component. It’s a shame that Monolith was checking “features multiplayer” off of the FPS standard features list instead of paying attention when 2K’s single-player masterpiece was lauded as game of the year by every video game site out there.
Pros: great enemy AI, good weapon variety, fun bullet time implementation
Cons: lackluster multiplayer
Plays Like: F.E.A.R. and its expansions