The image of a pasty-skinned, greasy-haired young girl has become an iconic one in horror films like The Ring, and the original F.E.A.R. introduced a similar figure with great success. Of course, that game gave its ghostly visions a chilling context, drawing you into the unnerving story of a paranormal prodigy named Alma and the horrific suffering to which she was subjected. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin returns to this fertile universe, but rather than scrutinise even darker reaches of the soul, it merely skims the surface, offering up a series of eerie visions without delivering a good mystery to bind them together. The good news for shooter fans is that the bullet-blasting core of the experience is sound, propelling you forward with enough intensity to keep the single-player campaign engaging. Most of what's here has been done better before, but the unspectacular elements have been stitched into an enjoyably moody first-person shooter that relies on rock-solid mechanics rather than true inspiration.
Scenes like these are common in F.E.A.R. 2. (Credit: GameSpot)
After a short exposition, F.E.A.R. 2 picks up where the original left off — with a bang. The city is in tatters, and as Michael Becket of Delta Force, it is up to you and your squad-mates to capture the elusive Genevieve Aristide, president of the nefarious Armacham Technology Corporation. Too much description would risk spoiling the game's few surprises, which are better experienced than narrated, though as it happens, there are few enigmas to unravel. F.E.A.R. 2's story paints itself into a corner, offering very little new to players already familiar with the Project Origin referred to in the title, and nothing compelling enough to wrap newcomers into its fold. With Alma now a known quantity, paranormal secrecy has been replaced by a series of near-cliche bump-in-the-night scares and murky visions that do the unthinkable where a horror-themed game is concerned: they become predictable.