GC 2008: FEAR 2: Project Origin Preview
Written Tuesday, September 23, 2008 By Dan WebbView author's profile
The Games Convention is a blur of an event ... you move from appointment to appointment, from publisher to publisher, seeing dozens upon dozens of games so they truly need to make a real impression to stand out of the pack. Of course, not every title can do this but there are some that you don’t expect to make much of an impact but actually shock the hell out of you. Project Origin was one of these, or FEAR 2 as we can now call it.
Project Origin takes place 30 minutes before the end of FEAR and you take control Michael Becket who is part of a recon team whose task is to find Genevieve Aristide who seems to be responsible for a lot of what Alma has become. Lost? It’s ok, the story is not the focus of this preview although there will be a test on it in tomorrow’s class... Oh wait. Anyway, enough of the story, let’s shoot on to the game.
You’d be mistaken in thinking that Project Origin is your standard FPS shooter. Yes on the one hand it is an FPS, but its horror aspect places so much emphasis on mood that it separates it from other games in the genre. With it not coming out until 2009, it was a delight to see some impressive textures and lighting at this early stage.
The level we got to take a look at was about three quarters of the way through the game and Becket has some priceless information that he believes can stop Alma. The level took place very close to ground zero and the effects of FEAR and what Alma can do become apparent.
Monolith’s focus this time around was on the whole immersion on the experience and Project Origin as part of that has reconfigured the HUD so that it takes the perspective of Becket’s goggles, a bit like Master Chief’s HUD in Halo 3.
One of the improvements this year was simplicity at its best as Monolith decided to give the player 4 weapon spots as opposed to the 3 as featured in the original. The reason for this was simple, now you can carry 3 weapons that suit any scenario and then have one slot for one of your favourites, for example; Becket can carry a long range, medium range and short range weapon while still allowing them to carry the nail gun that you always wanted to carry around as well. The game even features a couple of new grenade types as well to throw in to the mix, namely incendiary and chaff/flash grenades.
The AI has been vastly improved in Project Origin and now your adversaries will have a greater awareness of the environment around them, and they will attempt to use the surrounding map to get an advantage over you. This was one of the key techniques in adapting the gameplay to suit the more open, expansive environments that are found in Project Origin rather than the more traditional, FEAR-style confined spaces that we are used to. This sort of behaviour could easily be seen when an opponent starts to focus their attention on a nearby tanker of a car that you are crouched behind.
A primary focus for FEAR 2 was on the experience as a whole and according to Dave Matthews, primary art lead on Project Origin, the AI is that advanced that it will react to how you play, making the “combat experience different every time you play the game”.
New to the FEAR series is the aspect of armour penetration and there is a huge difference with a shotgun that has no armour penetration but certainly packs a punch where as nail gun has supreme armour penetration. This sort of added weapon behaviour will have a direct effect on how you progress through the game.
For me personally, one of the great additions to the series this time around is down to Monolith simply listening to the community. When the community went in a pack to Monolith and said “we want jump in that mech ... the powered armour” that was seen in FEAR, they felt they had to deliver accordingly. However, they went one better and upgraded the armour so that now you are presented with an “Elite Power Armour, the big brother version” which has dual mounted chain guns and can fire off a volley of rockets. These sections are so different to the rest of the title however and the focus on gameplay shifts to carnage as you power through the streets with the ability to destroy your opponents, their cover and parts of the environment. Be careful though, take too much damage and you’ll be spit on to the streets where you’ll find yourself a bit out gunned. Totally new to the series in a lot of respects but it sure looks like fun and something that will surely add another level to the gameplay.
FEAR 2: Project Origin is certainly looking great at this stage. Of course there is a lot of time till the game ships, but the “over the top John Woo style combat” which “is a trademark of FEAR” is definitely present and then some. With great visuals already and some pretty smart AI, FEAR 2 could certainly be a great title when it ships in early 2009. We won’t fully be able to make our minds up until we’re sat with a review copy in our hands, but we’re hopeful and quietly confident that Monolith can give the FEAR franchise an extra set of wings.
FEAR 2: Project Origin will ship for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on February 10th (North America) and February 13th (Europe).