F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC


I am getting old, that's obvious. Not for you, but to myself. No, it's not the shape I'm in, it's simply one gamer's thing - the list of games "to play" is getting longer with each week, and the worst part of it all is that, from time to time, I discover old games that I shouldn't have missed. That's exactly what happened this time, when F.E.A.R. 2 made me remember that I should have found some time since 2005 to finish at least the first F.E.A.R game, not to mention the two addons that followed...

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Since I mentioned the original and the addons, you may want to take a look at the PlayerzBlog review of F.E.A.R. - Perseus Mandate. I know a review won't be able to replace the actual gaming experience, but at least that one should get you in the mood for F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, although this hot PC game managed to completely "forget" what happened in the two addons of the original, coming up with a storyline that may not bring a lot of happiness to those who really got into the game's universe.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

OK, so let's say this - I got my F.E.A.R. 2 copy as soon as I was able to grab it, and I so I found myself inside a universe where a good knowledge of the past events should have been useful. Fortunately, it would have been nice to know more about the story in F.E.A.R., but that's not necessary to finish the game we're going to talk about today. Pheew!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Before moving on, I have to warn you that, if you have something against gore, you shouldn't play this game. Really, if you disable the gory parts from the settings, you miss a lot. The good part is that, no matter what you do, those few scary scenes when Alma comes to haunt you won't go away, but...just remember what I said - be sure to leave all the gory details enabled, all right?
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Fortunately, F.E.A.R. 2 is more than just a shooter. If it was only a shooter, I wouldn't have been really impressed, because the F.E.A.R. 2 shooter game is an average shooter, with highs and lows, but what really makes the game stand out of the crowd, at least for me, is the F.E.A.R. 2 horror movie that comes in the same package...just don't look for a movie on the DVD, you get inside it once you fire up the game!


Story

Story...damn, the story! Yes, my friends, the story is one of those you can love and hate at the same time, because it could have been awesome. Unfortunately, it's not quite awesome. Some F.E.A.R. fans claim that, compared to the original, the story in F.E.A.R. 2 really sucks. To me, this is only one of those typical horror movie plots that keeps you in tension for most of the time, but it only gets really high for a few moments, and the ending makes you want to break the TV - or computer monitor, in this case.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

I am not going into spoilers' realm here, so I will only give you a vague description of the story. As I said earlier, the story in F.E.A.R. 2 has nothing to do with what happened in the two addons, F.E.A.R. Extraction Point and F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate, since it starts exactly where F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon left off, more or less.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

That means the creepy psychic entity known as Alma is extremely angry after the gigantic explosion that obviously failed to destroy her at the end of the first game. How could we have a new game, if Alma disappears at the end of the first one, huh?
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

This time, your character has a name - you're Michael Becket, a Delta Force military operative assigned to arrest Genevieve Aristide, but we're talking about more than just a soldier here, since Becket has paranormal abilities like Point Man had in the first game. These abilities can help you from time to time, but they also make Alma develop a special "passion" for you.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Unfortunately, you get no clue on Genevieve Aristide, and the references to Alma's past are sketchy, if I can put it this way. On the other hand, characters could have been developed nicely during this game, but they're not. This makes me think about horror movies again, where characters develop relationships just enough for one to feel the unstoppable need to look for the other after he disappears, or go berserk when the companion he met a few hours ago got killed.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Obviously, this is a game to experience with your lights off, speakers with volume pushed to the max, or using your favorite headphones - even better. Here and then, tension gets really high, and surprises like Snake Fist's beheading don't come too often, but when they do...they make your time with F.E.A.R. 2 worth the price!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

In the end, it doesn't really matter if you like computer games or not, because the story in F.E.A.R. 2 will surely make you push your way forward through the levels, and since I've been able to finish it pretty easy, on average difficulty, I guess most beginners should be able to do the same. Just be sure that your enemies can be pretty smart, so don't play like you're immortal - F.E.A.R. 2 may show you this more than just once...


Gameplay

I will never complain about close quarters combat scenes where I am asked to press various keys to defeat my enemy. Really, and you want to know why? Probably the most annoying parts in F.E.A.R. 2 were those two face to face encounters, if I recall it well, when I had to click my way through. How's that possible?
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Well, think about this - Colonel Vanek kicks you down, and then you have to right click as fast as possible to rise up. Then, you have to click some more to point the gun to his head, but you may end up down once again, so you will have to click as fast as possible again, rise, and click some more. With this occasion, I discovered that using my index finger on the right mouse button is safest way to success, although it seems pretty lame.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Anyway, these were the most frustrating parts, because if we leave these close encounters aside, you will usually have enough ammo at your disposal to go through the game pretty easy, as long as you don't simply push forward like Rambo.
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Think about these as my personal hints - try to always have your back to a wall, and as soon as you see some enemies, use the slow-motion capability to fill them with lead faster than they can do that to yourself! Oh, yeah - and don't forget to reload as soon as you get out of a fight!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Shooting around in slo-mo can be quite fun, especially seeing heads spinning through the air or limbs flying all over, but when you get to enter a Powered Armor Unit, then the real fun begins! Unfortunately, during the single player campaign, you won't get to do this too often. In fact, there are only two such opportunities, if I recall it well, but they are both great!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

The mech riding parts of the game allow you to use the Thermal Vision of the Powered Armor, which is great, but I wasn't really overwhelmed by the way rockets fly out of your launchers. Anyway, the cannons are pretty accurate, and a skilled player in such a mechanical beast can keep the enemy in chess for entire rounds in a multiplayer game.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

OK, so we have slo-mo combat with smart enemies, as well as a lot of interesting encounters in single player mode(oh, yeah, one more thing - once you get the rocket launcher during the campaign, don't you ever let it down, it may make your life much easier in a few situations!), a bunch of monsters to kill, apart from the usual troops you will stumble upon, and I won't tell you anything else about that, because I have to say just a bit more about the multiplayer part of the game...
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

...and this multiplayer part could have been great, but it's not. The most interesting multiplayer game mode is, for me, Armored Front, where you fight with your team to control some key points, and each team can use one Powered Armor Unit. So far, so good, but there are only three maps available for this mode, and I think the makers of this game should add more to the multiplayer part, especially since I think a Team Deathmatch or simply Deathmatch using mechs would be absolutely awesome!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

I think I'll give my F.E.A.R. 2 copy to some kid and buy Quake 4, especially since I missed it when it came out. There's always time for some intense multiplayer action, and if there's no time, we'll make it!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

No, no, that's not the conclusion, it was just a thought, don't worry! In case you were wondering about the weapons, it's enough to say there are enough of them to make your favorite weapon a pretty tough choice, especially in multiplayer games, although the assault rifle seems to be a great one, as long as you don't have to face a mech, or snipers located pretty far.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

These being said, I am sure I missed something, but now all I can add is this: I don't know about others, but I really didn't find the time to get bored during those hours that I had to spend to get to the finish of the game(10-12 hours in all, I guess, I didn't keep track of it). Now, let's talk a little about sound, graphics, and some technical mumbo-jumbo, shall we?


Sound & Graphics

As I was saying, you have to play the game in darkness, with volume pushed to the max. Nevermind the neighbors, as long as the cops won't be knocking at your door, everything should be fine. Just be sure not to scare your gramma to death, and also be sure to check your heart before getting into F.E.A.R. 2!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

If you're wondering about the system requirements, I guess it should be enough to say I played the game with everything pushed to the max on my computer, and 2XFSAA/8XAAF - AMD X2 4000+@2.4GHz processor, 2 GB of DDR2 memory, 256 MB DDR3 X1950 Pro video card, and it moved really great, apart from those moments when the automatic saves made it all hang on for a few moments.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Oh, yeah, I played at 1280X1024 resolution, so you may need a pretty powerful computer to play F.E.A.R. 2 maxxed out on a large monitor, but I am sure most mid-range cards of the moment can handle this game well.

When talking about the graphics, I have to bow to those who worked on the flashback parts and those close encounters with Alma, because most of them look simply astonishing. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about some of the building interiors, where some graphics seem to be really outdated. Fortunately, you get to shoot some enemies there, too, and once you start seeing blood and bullet traces in slo-mo...who cares about anything else? Not me!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

Some repetitive elements can be found here and there(the only bug I managed to spot can be seen in the image above), but I wasn't really bothered by them. As you get closer to the end of the single player story, you'll experience some great scenes. What's you favorite? Drop a comment at the end, don't be shy!
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

These being said, I guess all there is left to do is listen, and watch carefully. You never know what could be lurking in the darkness...but I know what's next for us now: the conclusions!


Conclusions

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin works great, and I never had some crash to desktop or any other similar issue. While some reviewers claim it gets boring from time to time, I didn't manage to get bored. Maybe they shouldn't try to finish it all in a single gaming session...

All in all, this is a game you shouldn't miss. It doesn't matter if you like horror movies or not, and it doesn't matter if you played the first F.E.A.R. game or not. If you want to know more about the story, just be sure to look for intel items once you've taken out all available threats.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin PC

I don't want to get into the story more than just saying that this game's end is worst I've seen since Assassins' Creed. On the other hand, is a decent ending for a horror movie, leaving a lot of room to develop the next episode, so there's a hot and a cold side of the story. Some like it hot, some like it cold, so...

...here you have my ratings:

Story: 7/10 (the ending killed the rest of it, and the characters could have been developed much better)
Graphics: 9/10 (some interiors looking pretty old, but great overall graphics)
Sound: 9/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Originality: 6/10
Tilt Factor: 9/10 (sometimes you can really fall off your chair!)
Multiplayer: 6/10 (with a well done update, it could get much, much better)
Overall: 8/10

This should be all of it. Just be sure you won't get this game for some 12 years old... because it has a lot of dirty language, dismembered people, you'll even get to see Alma naked, and if you take away the gory parts, it becomes really sad. Come on, why remove gore, WHY?

Anyway, I am not going to start a crusade for video game gory details. If you can't stand gore and flying limbs, go play Solitaire or Chessmaster! At least the last one can give you a serious run for the money...

...but if we get back to F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, you should remember this: blood&gore are not making the game better, they just make it a bit more complete. Unfortunately for perfectionists and hardcore F.E.A.R. fans, it just may miss its target, but it also gets really close to it, in my opinion. I only hope F.E.A.R. 3 will make justice for anyone.

What if...what if F.E.A.R. 3 will allow you to play as Alma's child? Whatever that child will become, I have no idea. Switching sides could really be an interesting experience. If you have any ideas, drop them below, because this is where we part ways. I hope you enjoyed this review - and don't fear F.E.A.R., it's just a game! ;)

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Retail Problems?!


Crisis. Cooldown. Layoffs. Bankruptcy. No more retail games. Damn it, I hate these! Nevermind the first 4, the big problem is that various companies claim to have retail problems just to kill the computer games as we know them and push us into a fully digital era. Well, not "push," but "kick," because that's what I see happening. Today, it's about more than just one voice claiming that digital distribution is the way of the future...
Retail Problems
First, we have GamersGate's CEO, Theodore Bergquist, who told GamesIndustry.biz that "I've been in e-commerce since 1996 and I haven't seen a goods business model better than this. It's so pure online in its nature - I can't really see how a traditional retailer can survive, unless they decide to go online themselves," while talking about bricks-and-mortar retailers, so that could leave a chance for retail boxes to continue existing, but...

...look at Capcom's VP of strategic planning Christian Svensson words: "Capcom is trying to lead in digital distribution, and I would go as far as to say that in the console space we are already the leading software publisher. We’ve had the highest revenue-generating Xbox Live title, we’ve had the highest revenue-generating Wii title, we’re definitely in the top three or four on the PlayStation network."
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What can I say? I hate it, but I have to admit it - we're having retail problems here. Considering the fact that more and more consumers begin to count every penny spent, that means retail boxes are becoming one of the endangered species.

"One of the problems, to be candid, is that retail is falling away. What are the reasons for that? Partly it’s that return rates are very high. Returns of a PC title are usually double that of a console title - why? Because it’s not a great consumer experience because there’s variation in minimum spec, and it requires a lot of consumer knowledge to figure out exactly what is in their box, and what that will run,"concluded Svensson.

Consoles, downloadable games, retail problems. That's a serious slice of the present, and probably these are the keywords to rule the future. Not a future that I dreamed of, but one we may be forced to accept...

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Shellshock 2: Blood Trails PC


A few weeks ago, I managed to find a very interesting Oliver Stone DVD set on eBay, only that I wasn't exactly on a movie purchasing spree at that time, and when I tried to find it a few days later, it was gone. Yes, I am crazy about war movies, especially when we're talking about more than just war, and today, we're going to check a PC game that made me think about a few movies made by this great director named Oliver Sone. The name of the game - Shellshock 2: Blood Trails.

Shellshock 2 Blood Trails

Because I don't want you to find yourselves in a dark room like the one pictured above(a scene from the early beginning of the game), I think a few words about the first Shellshock game need to be spoken. Why? When I bump into a game that should be related to another, and I know I may not be able to play the sequel/prequel/other games in the series, I think at least some basic info about those could help.
Shellshock 2 Blood Trails

The funny part is that, this time, we only have the name connecting Shellshock: Nam '67 and Shellshock 2: Blood Trails, because there's no epic trail leading from the first one to the second, or the other way around. Oh, yeah, both games have the story set in the Vietnam War period, and all action takes place in the same area as that war. Apart from that, there could also be the fact that both games failed to live up to the marketing hype around them - or at least the first one, since the second is still too fresh, and we can't claim anything just yet.
Shellshock 2 Blood Trails

Now that we know what we shouldn't know about the first game("just another war game"), let's take a look at Shellshock 2: Blood Trails, shall we?


Story

Basically, we have our hero thrown into the horrors of the Vietnam War for the first time, in a quest to find his brother. So far, nothing special, only that his brother is somehow changed. In fact, he's almost a zombie, and that's the main catch of the whole story - you're going to fight through hordes of zombies, except the Vietcong troops, to find your brother. Think about Left 4 Dead in a jungle, with less zombies, just as few weapons as L4D, and a less dull story.
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_004

Now, that doesn't mean the story is good, but I was happy to finish the game before dying of boredom. The end was extremely lame, but that's not the point, anyway. Here's a very quick walkthrough...
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_004

You're Nate Walker, sent to some border base to meet your zombified brother, Cal, and as soon as you meet him, the Vietcong troops jump into the story, allowing Cal to escape. Once you start chasing him, you'll go through the entire Vietnam mumbo-jumbo - jungle scenery with some traps and land mines as bonus, some urban combat here and there, a haunted mansion, the most ugly dead chick I ever saw in a game, some caves... nothing to really make me go "WOW," although Shellshock 2 has its moments. Oh, yeah, there's also a very silly ending, but I don't want to ruin your experience!
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_006

If I had to rate this story... well, I'll do it in the end, because I think now the time has come to tell you a few things about the gameplay.
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_022


Gameplay

As you probably know already, I am not one of those who can drink a beer, chew some pizza, and get 90% headshots at the same time. I am just playing shooters from time to time, and when I do, I always choose average difficulty, when there are three options available, as it happens in Shellshock 2. OK, so I managed to finish the game on "Average" difficulty. What about it?
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_008

You don't have to be careful about reloading your weapon all the time, because somewhere after the first part of the game, you'll end up checking the controls for melee attack(that's what I did, after playing for about an hour, haha!).
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_009

Once you are happy with the default key bindings("F" for melee is pretty well chosen), just be sure to have a shotgun/assault rifle at hand, and crack some zombie skulls, as long as you're not attacked by an entire horde of them. That's a very smart move, especially since I found myself very low on ammo a few times.
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_010

In Shellshock 2, close quarters combat is pretty stupid, if you ask me - pressing the directional keys(A-W-S-D, but since these are directional keys in most shooters...) in the right order can't be fun, but maybe others enjoy it. After all, it was there in Turok, why not do it once again? Well, Turok was a much better game, that's why, and cutting some dinosaurs was always fun. Having to press 12-15 keys to kill a zombie wasn't.
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_026

Anyway, most of the time you'll be running around, shooting zombies, so close quarters combat can't get too annoying...or too fun, depends on how you take it. For me, these close encounters were a nice jump out of the routine, but nothing out of ordinary. Just think about the slow-motion kills in Fallout 3, and then look at Shellshock 2. Not quite close, don't you think?


Sound & Graphics

I don't hate Shellshock 2 at all. In fact, its sound and graphics made me want to endure it all. Don't get me wrong - the graphics are a few years behind most shooters we're seeing these days, but it's all about the mood here, and I must confess there are a few gory stops in Shellshock 2 worth checking out.
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_012

When talking about system requirements, the fact that this game uses the CS: Source engine should be enough to give you an idea about the topic. I played the game with everything pushed to the max on my computer - AMD X2 4000+@2.4GHz processor, 2 GB of DDR2 memory, 256 MB DDR3 X1950 Pro video card, so virtually any gaming computer built in the last 4-5 years should run this game well, as long as you're not using a 24" display and full HD resolution...
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_013


Conclusions

Shellshock 2: Blood Trails left me with a bitter taste in the mouth. It could have been better. The story, the plot, the linear level design, and the dirty language... I know war games/movies are supposed to have tough language, that's normal, but seeing the "F word" used 3 times in the description of a level makes me wonder about a lot of things.
shellshock2bloodtrailspc_025

I love Minesweeper, and Shellshock 2 is better than it. That's a fact. Now, let's get a bit more serious and see some ratings, shall we?
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Story: 5/10
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 8/10
Gameplay: 5/10
Originality: 4/10
Tilt Factor: 5/10
Overall: 6/10

All right, so what else should I say about Shellshock 2: Blood Trails? Not much... only that I wasn't quite shocked, but if you're really longing for a shooter and you played all Call of Duty games already, as well as the other competent games in the category released lately, you should give this one a try. After all, it's not THAT BAD, you know...

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