Here's where things start to get interesting.
Preview by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
July 17th 2008
Little girls with glowing red eyes are still terrifying, especially when they can knock you around harder than a heavyweight. The enormous explosion the Project Origin demo opens with also might have had something to do with the main character's muddled head as he stumbles out onto a hazy street at the epicenter of this minor catastrophe. But it's all okay as long as you still have a gun.
Here comes the prequel to F.E.A.R., and the only real continuation according to developer Monolith and true fans of the original. Those overpriced expansion packs might as well have never happened. No more static non-improvements. All the little issues people didn't like about the first one have been addressed, and nothing has been sacrificed to reach a higher plane. The first shocker is the dramatic improvement in the visual design, where textures are defined and colors pop, especially when using the power to slow down time. The locations themselves are also far more varied, with interiors like darkened hospitals and ruined streets under the orange haze of dawn.
Project Origin is still a corridor shooter, driving the player down a mainly linear path chock full of soldiers and true horrors eager to take him down. As in F.E.A.R. before it, the fun is in its advanced AI that reacts naturally to your presence. Expect to be flanked and countered, left struggling at the higher difficulties as you wait and hope for your health to come back. Med packs are history as the series has joined the regen health fad, but here it actually makes sense, from both a story and gameplay perspective. The static health in F.E.A.R. was more of a nuisance than a challenge.
The second element that really made F.E.A.R. shine was the weapons, each slightly removed from reality while carrying a profound feeling of punch you could feel like a fist to the ribcage. The dark soldiers certainly do as they get knocked to the other side of the room from the blast. The great arsenal from the original has returned, along with some new surprises, and all of them sport an incredible level of detail for something that's only truly seen in the midst of frantic reloading. Multiplayer is planned, but Monolith wasn't ready to discuss it at the show - though I wouldn't be surprised if it followed the hardcore intensity of the original, where death was near and skill was key to survival.