Don't fancy reading the review? Would you prefer to sit back in your chair and watch some glorious 720p HD footage of the game in action while listening to us tell you about F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin? If so head over to our video review for a condensed review of Monolith's first-person shooter.
If I ever meet the person who first realised that slow-motion made things more fun, I'll give them a big pat on the back. While its use in F.E.A.R. 2 isn't revolutionary in any way, it is superbly executed and manages to make Monolith's FPS stand out from the majority of other shooters on the market. In a month, perhaps even a year, dominated by one gorgeous looking FPS, it's quite telling that it's F.E.A.R. 2 which provided me with more entertainment.
F.E.A.R. 2's had a somewhat interesting development cycle. Monolith, developer of the original F.E.A.R. (not the two expansions), was acquired by Warner towards the end of development of the original game, so dropped publisher Vivendi to become part of Warner's growing stable of studios. Monolith retained rights to the series' characters, but Vivendi owned the name, so work began on Project Origin, a sequel to F.E.A.R. in all but name. Some time later Vivendi merged with Activision and this allowed Warner to pick up the rights to the F.E.A.R. name, giving us the sequel everyone wanted.
F.E.A.R. 2 picks up 30 minutes before the end of the original game (which ended with a rather large explosion), and doesn't acknowledge expansions Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate. You play as Michael Becket, a member of Delta Force - an elite unit sent to arrest Genevieve Aristide, president of Armacham, whom Point Man found incriminating evidence against during the first game. Things obviously don't go quite to plan, and you're once again thrown into a supernatural horror first-person shooter.
Key to it all is spooky apparition, sometimes girl, sometimes freakish woman, Alma, who is back causing chaos and lots of bloodshed. The story focuses on her incarceration in the Vault, a structure built deep inside the top secret Origin Facility. We won't spoil what is an entertaining and twisting storyline, but it should come as no surprise that Becket suffers from the same visions as Point Man, so expect, well, just about anything really.
Played entirely from a first-person perspective, even during cutscenes, and with just the right amount of head bob and movement, you feel incredibly grounded and in the shoes of Becket. A few people will likely find the bob slightly hard to take (motion sickness sufferers are probably out of luck), but it's brilliantly immersive and one of the reasons why the game's scares work so well.
FEAR 2 is more unnerving and unsettling than it is scary, but don't take that as a negative. You're not going to think Alma is hiding under your bed or in your closet, and you won't need someone to do a clean sweep of the house before entering at night, but while you're playing your heart rate will rise and you'll more than likely need to take regular breaks. Chances are your hands will have turned into claws that need prying away from the controller, having been holding on for dear life.