You know, about 45 minutes ago, I had no fear of 8-year-old girls.
I also had no fear of walking down hallways, streets and Metro stations, but this was all before I decided to download and play the recently released F.E.A.R. 2 demo off of Xbox Live.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, an action-adventure FPS slash pseudo-Japanese horror story from Monolith Productions, is the second installment of one of the most talked about and frightening FPS franchises in recent memory. Though I never did get on the bandwagon to play the original title, the Project Origin demo did more than enough to convince me that the hype was well deserved.
Project Origin begins with a dramatic opening cinematic. Starting with a deep black screen, you hear the words “Her name is Alma” spoken by the narrator. If you’ve ever been to a video game forum or website in the last year, you know that when Alma is mentioned, you’re probably in big trouble.
From the black screen, the cinematic slowly zooms into Alma, a seemingly harmless 8-year-old child blessed (or should I say cursed?) with psychic abilities, playing on a swing set atop a peaceful grassy hill. However, the portrait is not pleasant for long as the sequence starts to dart violently back and forth between clips of burning buildings and mayhem. Each frame becomes more dramatic, pulsating and contracting. The tension builds as the shot slowly closes in on the girl on the swing set. The cinematic converts seamlessly to gameplay, reminding me of the opening sequence of Bioshock. It was a true “Oh wow, this IS the game” moment.
Once you realize that you’re in control, you assume the role of a weaponless Michael Beckett on an abandoned street. As you walk Beckett further down the street, you see Alma just ahead of you, signaling to the player of which direction to head. Why you would want to chase Alma down a street sans a weapon, I have no idea.
From there, you navigate your way through streets, schools and subways systems, finding weapons and Delta Force members along the way. You also encounter a good variety of foes including ghosts, mechwarriors and one particularly annoying falling bus.
Reflex Time was one of my favorite parts of Project Origin. If I ever found myself surrounded by enemies, I would just toggle the Y button and unload with my shotgun. It was a satisfaction I’ve missed since Max Payne’s Bullet Time.
What was great about this demo was the fact that you never really know what is coming or when it is going to happen. All you know is that it WILL happen and that you may need another clean pair of boxers very soon.
From this, you are trapped in a constant state of terror. You are continuously wondering when the next paranormal event will happen. This is definitely tolerable in a demo format but I do wonder what affect it may have on players in a full-scale campaign.
The flaws in this demo are few and far between. Sometimes the enemy character models as well as the doors and other landmarks can be hard to see due to shading and shadows. I recommend keeping your flashlight on at all times and perhaps even adjusting the brightness settings in the game menu up a notch or two. I did enjoy the gore, though I thought it to be a bit over the top when combined with Reflex Time.
In any case, I am looking forward to the full version of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. From what I saw, the story has potential and the campaign will certainly be full of surprises. The only doubts I have about the game are with the brightness of the in-game environments and how many hours I will be able to play before I start having nightmares about Alma.