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Monday
Jan042010

Best of 2009 - F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

As one year transitions into the next, I find it a healthy and refreshing endeavor to look back upon the past year and reflect upon those experiences which touched me the most; to discover which games stood tall above the rest and, for one reason or another, made a lasting impression.

Over the next few days, I will be sharing my own personal list of the ten best games of 2009, followed by those that didn't quite make the top ten and even a few of my greatest disappointments of the year. These are in no particular order, but they are the games I found most worthy of praise. Reflecting upon them makes one thing clear: it was a great year for gaming.

Sometimes what a game needs to succeed is not oodles of originality. Sometimes all it takes for a game to work its way into my heart is for it to know what it wants to be and to work its little butt off being as good at that as it can.

Little about F.E.A.R. 2, or its predecessor for that matter, is original. The creepy environments you wander through in the game include, off the top of my head, a hospital, an office building, a subway station, and an elementary school. If there was an alphabet of horror environments, I bet these would be A, B, C, and D they’re so common. 

But it doesn’t matter. They’re executed so well that I still relished exploring every last one of them. The detail, the terrific lighting, and the spooky sounds make for wonderfully atmospheric environments. The school environment alone is worth the price of admission.

The game’s primary villain is a creepy little girl with long black hair. You don’t have to have watched many horror movies to tell me you’ve seen that one before.

But I love little Alma anyway. There’s something about the character and her history that makes her just as empathetic as she is terrifying. 

Maybe I’m just a sucker for creepy little girls with long black hair. 

The non-horror parts of the game are executed superbly as well. The AI feels reasonably intelligent, the guns are satisfying to use, and F.E.A.R’s combat system is one of the only ones to rely on slow-motion tricks that doesn’t get old halfway through the game. It somehow never gets less fun to slow down time and blast soldiers in the face.

This is one of F.E.A.R. 2’s strongest points, actually. It alternates between slower-paced, atmospheric exploration and visceral combat sequences making for a perfectly paced experience where you never get tired of one aspect or the other. It’s a roller coaster of emotions. 

Even the game’s story is good, which is all the more impressive considering the muddled mess that was the first game’s attempt at storytelling. Not only does F.E.A.R. 2 manage to take the tale to farther, more interesting points, as any good sequel should, it also manages to repeat most of the important bits of the first game in a manner that is far more intelligible. It’s a great refresher and I’d imagine it would be easy for someone who had never played the first one to jump in as well.

And the ending… Oh man, the ending. From both a gameplay and a story perspective, let’s just say F.E.A.R. 2 has one of my favorite horror endings of all time.

I’ll admit that it’s really more of a fun ride than a challenging, innovative gameplay experience, but in this case I’m just fine with that. 

For giving me my horror kicks and my shooting fix in one delightfully atmospheric package, F.E.A.R. 2 is one of my Best Games of 2009.

Man I hate typing all of those damn periods.

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Reader Comments (2)

Great call! I purchase very few games these days but F.E.A.R. 2 was one of them.

January 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris Jr.

Thanks. Like I said, it's not perfect, but I love it. I'm a sucker for a good horror game, but until recently too many good horror settings were stuck with the actual game part having crappy controls and outdated gameplay. I'm really thankful that games like F.E.A.R. have given some horror goodness with gameplay I actually like.

January 5, 2010 | Registered CommenterBrendan T. Smith

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