Have you played… F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I’m still annoyed at F.E.A.R. 2. The first F.E.A.R probably has the best shotgun in any game ever. It’s a masterpiece of virtual ballistics, a simple black tube that, when fired, has the force of a punch from Mars himself. All F.E.A.R 2 had to do was carry it over exactly as it was. Instead, Monolith redesigned it and made it utter dogshit. It’s an absolute travesty and I demand this be acknowledged.

Aside from this INJUSTICE, F.E.A.R 2 is a broadly decent shooter that does a few things better than the first. The environments are more varied and there are a greater range of enemies to fight. It also introduces a couple of neat (though undercooked) ideas, like driveable mechs and the ability to push cover around in combat.

But F.E.A.R 2 is mainly worth playing to visit one location in particular – Wade Elementary. As you can no doubt guess, this mid-game mission is set in a primary school founded on the premise of teaching Alma Wade (the psychic little girl who haunts your footsteps throughout both) her letters and numbers. But its true function is to monitor her in a social environment and study her abilities.

Monolith have a thing for creepy-as-all-hell schools, having visited the idea before in Condemned: Criminal Origins. As with Condemned, Wade Elementary is by far the scariest bit of F.E.A.R 2, replete with rattling locker doors, spooky ghost-like creatures that chase you around, and some disorienting spatial manipulation as Alma messes with your mind from afar.

Given the rather humdrum horror of the first game, Wade Elementary comes as a pleasant (or perhaps unpleasant) surprise that briefly elevates the F.E.A.R 2 into something genuinely great. The rest of it isn’t bad either, provided you can get past the crushing disappointment of the shotgun.

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43 Comments

  1. Jokerme says:

    Oh, I think you meant to say it did EVERYTHING better than the first one. It’s okay, many people do that mistake.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      The first game has some of the best gunplay of any game ever, so no.

      Also doesn’t this have a turret sequence with some completely tone deaf buttrock over the top of it?

      • Vandelay says:

        I also recall the AI was severely limited compared to the original. I might be misremembering, but it seemed much more static and the standard whack-a-mole style of shooting from other modern FPS games rather than the dynamic AI routines of the original.

      • mvar says:

        I don’t recall how bad F.E.A.R. 2 combat was in general, but i do recall my strong dislike when i found out they had removed leaning left and right. That made such a huge difference in gunplay compared to the first installment. The only recent game that came close to F.E.A.R.’s gunplay i think is Wolfenstein New Order

        • haradaya says:

          That was my exact thinking while playing Wolfenstein.

        • fabronaut says:

          I’ve been playing Wolfenstein: The New Order, and the gun feel is SO GOOD.

          I have to say that the original FEAR may be one of the few games that really nailed the feeling of power and weight in each gun (that I can remember, anyway). Never got around to trying the second one, although I think I have it, so I might rectify that at some point :)

    • Spuzzell says:

      No, I’m sorry. FEAR 2 is not better than FEAR.

      It didn’t look as good, (why was there no FOV) the weapons were worse (I’m surprised Rick didn’t mention the crushing disappointment of the shotgun) you couldn’t even lean out of cover any more and the enemies were brain dead, which didn’t matter so much as the whole game was different flavoured corridors with turret section toppings.

      I played through the whole series last year in sequence and FEAR 2 is by a margin my least favourite of the three, though they are all fun.

      • Flopdong says:

        I agree, FEAR 2 is the definite low point. Lots of people hated on FEAR 3 (I will not call it F3AR) but I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than 2. Some of the mutliplayer modes were pretty great too

    • Flopdong says:

      Hell no, the original FEAR still has better gunplay than most modern shooters. FEAR 2 was a generic shooter with bland weapons and predictable AI. As a sequel to one of my favorite games of all time, it was incredibly disappointing

      • KenTWOu says:

        The main problem with F.E.A.R 2, they toned down its AI making it significantly less aggressive for gamepad players. Patch v1.02 made them more aggressive and dynamic again, but on the highest difficulty only. On that difficulty it’s a really good and satisfying shooter. It’s much better than F.E.A.R 3, that’s for sure. But on any other difficulty level it sucks.

        • Spakkenkhrist says:

          This means I will have to replay FEAR 2 now, once I work out which online retailer I bought it from.

  2. Axyl says:

    Yeah, I’ve played it for sure. Bought it at launch and did the whole “lights off, headphones on, sound turned WAY up” bit too. Loved it.

    It’s not *quite* as strong a game as the original imo, but it’s leagues ahead of the 3rd game (I flat out refuse to type it’s “real” name). :)

  3. JaguarWong says:

    The whole trilogy is available for a little over 3 quid on bundlestars currently.

  4. int says:

    It might not have the pulverizing shotgun but it has… EPA! E-P-A! YEAH!
    link to youtube.com

    Who the hell owns the rights to Shogo anyway? Monolith have to make a new one after the new Mordor game.

    • Jalan says:

      Interplay has the rights and they were up for sale in the big Interplay IP auction that was announced late last year that doesn’t seem to have had any fresh news reported on it since.

  5. satan says:

    Played the first game a lot, the second was so much of a departure from the combat and atmosphere of the first game that I had to double check I’d bought the right game.
    Unfortunately the combat was so predictable and repetitive in 2 that I never even finished it.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Frog says:

    Yeah, I really liked the two first FEAR games, replayed them a few times and still like them. Great visuals, sound effects. I enjoyed the enemies. The spike weapon in the first game was fun. Excellent stuff.
    Now the third FEAR was a turd I thought. I played a little past half of it and got bored, never came back. Boy, did they ever hype that one.

    • dufake says:

      The only good thing in FEAR 3 is the EPA combat. I’ll still give it a 3/10, so it’s still better than some cod games.

  7. Cyrus says:

    Aye, the shotgun packed some punch in the first game.
    I haven’t played the others and don’t plan to either..

  8. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    FEAR 2 is a masterpiece of environmental design. The elementary school is sweet and all but the standout level is the hospital, with its windows that you gradually find out as you go through are not actually windows at all, but electronic panels designed to simulate natural light and the whole damn thing is actually a heavily-fortified underground military hospital-cum-illicit human testing lab. Tell me that’s not the coolest shit.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ghostbird says:

      Finding the tree with the swing near the end of the game is a moment that stays with me, too. And it wasn’t until my second playthrough that I really noticed the children’s drawings in the school.

      Consensus seems to be that the first game is better, but I found the environments dull and the storytelling unmemorable. Although I suspect it didn’t help that I played the F.E.A.R 2 first on console and then the original on my rather elderly PC.

      • malkav11 says:

        No, the levels in FEAR are really boring. It’s all office or industrial, no actual personality evident. The excellent shooting, AI and moderately good spooks are why it remains memorable. The sequel improves on the rest. (Sadly, at the cost of the shooting and AI to at least some degree.)

  9. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Nope, the best shotgun ever is the one from HL2.
    Not necessarily by default, but if you go into the console, you can up the number of pellets it fires from seven, up to, say, five hundred!.
    Now, each shot will unleash a storm of destruction upon almost anything in front of you (and cause a framerate drop when you turn it up high enough).
    Enemies, physics objects, destructables. All will end up in the furthest corner of the room.

    Enable the developer console in the options, and hit ` to bring it up in-game. Then thype:
    sk_plr_num_shotgun_pellets 500 (up 500 to whatever you PC will handle).
    NB, this will disable achievements.

  10. dethtoll says:

    FEAR 2 is my favorite of the franchise. FEAR 3 is budget garbage.

    • Riken Vorkovin says:

      Holy cow that game was TRASH. It wasn’t made by Monolith though so big surprise there. I really hated how they resolved the story, terrible work.

      • dethtoll says:

        A lot of people hate on Blood 2 but I do think FEAR 3 is the low point in Monolith’s career, all the more due to their not working on it.

        I don’t think they’ve actually recovered from that low point either.

  11. Mechorpheus says:

    I did enjoy FEAR 2 (although it ran like garbage on my PC at the time so I spent more time looking at it’s video settings menu than I did actually play it for a good while). How has no one commented on the ending though? Holy hell. John Walker did promise us an article on that which never materialized….

  12. Faults says:

    I think there might be just a hint of rose-tint regarding reminiscing over FEAR 1’s gunplay in the comments here. I played through it recently and it honestly felt horrendously clunky in a lot of places. Not saying it’s an objectively bad experience or whatever, but it definitely felt pretty rough.

    • Spuzzell says:

      Opinions on a games quality are our own and equally valid, but it’s just FEAR, there is no such game as FEAR 1.

    • haradaya says:

      It’s probably because of how pretty much all the weapons have burst fire only. There’s no single shots for any of the rifles. I’m not sure why that decision was made, but it made me play more aggressive. Taking less time to aim for headshots and just lay down suppressive fire and spray at center mass. And that’s when combat really starts to shine. With huge dust clouds and sparks shooting everywhere. Enemies yelling out in terror. And if things are going the wrong way, that’s when I’d activate slowmo and deliver the precise shots.

  13. HenitoKisou says:

    You do realize shotgun from first game is pump action Spas-12 based and FEAR 2 had TWO shotguns, one with normal loading and other that works just like first game but based on Pancor Jackhammer. The only thing that sucks are these turret sections and boss battles, you need to memorize them else they will hurt. Also in some cases hitscan or one shot enemies but that is related to how precise damage areas are, you are deadly to enemies so do they to you. AI is improved but no longer being emergent AI like first game had but coded routines based on level design and pathfinding with more options to decide what to do, depending on map they are more or less effective.

    • Tiax says:

      ” AI is improved but no longer being emergent AI like first game had but coded routines based on level design and pathfinding with more options to decide what to do, depending on map they are more or less effective.”

      The AI of the first FEAR was actually based on scripts based on the level-design as well.

  14. Kaeoschassis says:

    I’ve said it so often on here and I’m sure I’ll say it again – you can judge the quality of a shooter solely by firing its shotgun. Sadly this makes FEAR2 a bad shooter – whatever else it does right.

    FEAR1 as you rightly pointed out is one of the best shooters of all time by this scale. Honestly I think its shotgun might even be better than the Super Shotgun from Doom2… blasphemous as that is to even consider.

    • Danda says:

      EXACTLY.

      A well-placed shotgun blast destroyed your enemies, and it was awesome. In F.E.A.R. 2, clean headshots didn’t even kill your enemies. What?! Yes, that’s my problem with the second game: enemies were bullet sponges and it didn’t feel right. They ruined the best thing from the first game.

      Actually, “the best thing” was “the only thing” for me, because I never cared about the spooky stuff. And what was the deal with the mechas?!

  15. malkav11 says:

    I enjoyed all the FEAR games, but FEAR 2 is probably the best overall thanks to much more interesting level design and storytelling, though the combat and enemy AI did feel a bit less satisfying. FEAR 3 has definite issues (particularly with plot) but its asymmetrical coop is a blast and there’s some pretty memorable levels there as well.

    • dethtoll says:

      I’ll grant FEAR 3 had some really fun levels, even if everything else sucked.

  16. Jackablade says:

    Of the slightly hokey Monolith horror games with some interesting ideas that eventually get very silly, I’m more of a Condemned man, myself. You’re unlikely to find a better first-person walloping people with piece of rebar game