Archive for November, 2007
She's back. Alma has returned in the second interval, so to speak, of the First Encounter Assault Pecan series. And she is slightly peeved by the events of Monolith's previous outing in the original F.E.A.R. Project Origin picks up the story right about the time that Armacham is attempting to destroy all of the evidence of Project Origin.
Players will take on the role of Michael Becket, a sergeant in the US Military tasked with the retrieval of Genevieve Aristide, the president of Armacham. Just prior to heading in to the mission, the player will experience their first dream-like sequence in the game, walking down a blasted and ruined street in pursuit of little Alma. The dream sequence ends when the player falls (or jumps) into a hole with a bright golden glow emanating from it. Then there is a music box and... well, you'll find all that out soon enough.
The Armacham board of directors have dispatched huge quantities of their troops under the command of Colonel Vanek, to erase the evidence of their involvement in Project Origin. It is the Colonel and his troops that players will be in conflict with for much of the game. There is some remote assistance for players from a semi-anonymous person who calls himself Snake Fist. Players will later meet both of these characters in person, with nearly identical results, one as a result of the player's actions. We won't be dropping any spoilers beyond this range of rather vague hints.
There is a very familiar range of weaponry available in Project Origin. The four varieties of grenades (the shock grenade being essential again; the Power Armor units) are back. The standard pistol is still there, but we have yet to fire a single shot with it however. Sniper rifles, assault rifles and SMGs are all available, usually as pickups from downed foes, as are automatic and combat flavors of shotgun. The nail-firing Hammer makes an appearance later in the game, as do the RPG and the experimental weapon with the most awesome kill animation we've seen in sometime.
Gameplay is also very reminiscent, specifically comprised of some run-and-gun, a little puzzle solving and the odd bit of melee combat, interspersed with scares courtesy of Alma and various minions. The first-person battles are great fun, as before, but the eerie elements of the game are really only when there is very little happening. One of our worst moments was while wandering around a hospital, unarmed, after having watched some very disturbing dream/vision sequences of a surgical procedure we'd apparently undergone.
With that said, Project Origin is not as scary as the first in the series. The scares, when done well, will leave players twitching at shadows. There are some brilliant scripted events involving Armacham soldiers being killed by Alma that will drop jaws.
The other side of the spectrum are the mutated military experiments that can crawl on walls and ceilings. These guys were a hoot. We actually spent fifteen minutes trying to entice them to attack and attempting to get them to play fetch with grenades. It didn't work. But these guys missed the mark in the scary-sweepstakes.
Overall the biggest failure in the new underpants department was the overabundance of everything that scares. The over-the-top placement of terror apparatus made for a funfair horror ride, terrifying for the Flanders kids but losing some impact for just about everybody else.
Improvements over the first game include better textures (even with AA on F.E.A.R 2 is no resource hog), much better animation and a superior enemy Al. There is also much more variety in the locations that are being explored. There is no real sense of backtracking over ground that has already been explored and the settings range from a penthouse to an elementary school to a hospital and an underground base.
There is one section with a Power Armor Suit that the player gets to pilot. This sort of jumps out of nowhere and, because of its seeming irrelevance to the story, it jars the sense of reality in the game a little. Alma makes up for this, as does the enthralling storyline and the locations and enemy units that we have not mentioned here. Most of the fun is the unexpected nature of the game and we aim to keep it this way.
We hit a few rounds of the multiplayer before concluding the review. That arena shows off just what the various grenades are for. We've fallen in love with the proximity mine. Overall, the multiplayer will keep Project Origin going but it is worth playing on its own. Project Origin is a solid title with much to commend it and very little to criticize.
Shortly in, players will be dying to find out what happens to Michael Becket and the journey to the twisted end will not make you sorry.
Life of Saint Genevieve of Paris