Project Origin is a bit of a mixed bag really, for every great combat set piece I feel a strong bout of deja vu and although that is not necessarily a bad thing, it might be for some.
The story of Project Origin see's a second FEAR team being sent into Genevieve Aristides' penthouse to arrest her shortly before the climactic end of the first FEAR. You play as Michael Becket a faceless member of the team who begin's seeing strange things during the arrest and consequently end's up being a major target throughout the story. The story-telling is nothing to write home about and the team isn't at all fleshed out or memorable, but if you wanted some answers to Armacham and it's shady dealings then project origin fills in a few large gaps, as well as tread old ground for the uninitiated.
Project Origin plays almost exactly like FEAR, which will either be welcomed like a friend not seen for a few years, or rejected like any Uwe Boll movie. You see FEAR made pretty good use of bullet time mixed with a few martial arts moves, and plenty of weaponary to mow down the opposition. Well project origin does more of the same, just with some new guns. Now I really liked FEAR, it was a budget purchase for me and I found myself really enjoying the moody atmosphere and slow-mo gunplay. When going into Project Origin it was like seeing clips of myself playing FEAR with improved graphics. You are given plenty of weapons to use which is nice, but the enemy variety is pretty shallow. The good old Replica soldiers make a return, along with reskinned ATC guards in the form of Armachams' private security force. New enemies make things a little more interesting, such as the spirits whose eyes you catch a glimpse of before you health goes down sharply, and abominations the failed armacham experiments. The more impressive but sadly under-used enemy is the remnant. These undead humans have been altered by Almas' physic power and now act like they did before their death. Shooting or even making noise near to a remnant causes it to shriek and then reanimate corpses to fight you, while it uses its speed to avoid you. They are refreshing to fight, but with so few in game, it makes you want a couple more to liven up a level. Sadly though a couple of new mobs is all you get if you have already played FEAR. Exposition is given in the form of documents strewn througout the levels. Each level has several pieces pertaining to the location and adds more to the story and kind of acts as a replayability factor if you want to find them all, since the game saves what ones you have found from previous playthroughs.
Level wise you can expect much more varied and colourful enviroments compared to FEAR. This is a welcome change since grey really was too dominant in FEAR and was a major criticism of the game. Project origin takes you all over a major city so the gameplay feels a little more varied. Another major factor in gameplay terms is the powered armour. These walking death suits are few and far between but add some much needed mindless violence to the proceedings. You are virtually invulnerable in these and act more as sideshows to the main attraction, but stomping around the streets and turning soldiers into red goo is a treat and the limited enviromental destruction, gives the guns some punch. On a more limited note you man a turret twice, but the set pieces are short and don't add much gameplay wise.
The other major gameplay aspect is in the title, FEAR. The original title gave you ample amounts of cheap scares and jump moments with little creepy Alma and you get used to them after your second playthrough. In project origin you know when the scares are coming, the pacing just telegraphs it. Again if you have not played FEAR then the scares will probably add to the experience, but for veterans don't expect to be shocked when you hear a noise and turn to see Alma standing in front of you, or to have a warped vision etc. it just recycles the original games scares that you kind of know when they are coming.
Multiplayer is a by the book affair featuring renamed versions of capture the flag, team deathmatch, deathmatch, search and destroy and conquest. It does feature a new mode though called armoured front, where two teams battle it out to control the map similar to conquest, but each side is equipped with a set of powered armour to support the attack. A novel idea to make use of the fun singleplayer item, which makes for some pretty hectic fights. One drawback for myself being a big FPS multiplayer gamer is the lack of players in any game, being 16 max. For the PC this number should be more around 32 at least.
Project Origin on the PC at least looks pretty sharp with good use of lighting and shadow to set the tone for the horror sections, and more brigther effects for the combat heavy sections. Guns look detailed, replica soldiers armour has plenty of ammo pouches, insignia and other equipment to show off the model detail and the paranormal creatures fit the bill, flashing in and out of view. Abominations show off the graphic power behind the game when they grapple you, giving you a good look at the creatures while you kick them in the face to get them off of you. It is not unusual for next gen games to look pretty, in fact its a must for the mainstream gamer who expects all games to use the latest technology to make their game look appealing. Project Origin does this well and runs pretty smooth on a high end PC like mine, but may suffer on lower end systems with alot of effects turned on.
Sound is a key part of both FEAR games. The ambient music coupled with the haunting sounds of the desolate streets and buildings sets the mood, with the music shifting up when a fight sequence kicks off. Voice overs are competent but since the characters are really not that endearing the voice work seems wasted. Replica soldiers spouted the same lines from FEAR which obviously makes sense in the context of the game, but as far as development goes it seems a little lazy not to change them or even add some new battle chatter. Abominations sound suitably creepy and the other paranormal creatures have the right sound to them. Weapons such as the shotgun sound powerful, but never quite match up damage wise. Again returning weapons have the same sounds, if that bothers you then maybe a nice modder can help otherwise its not really a big deal just something you will mentally pick up on if you have played FEAR.
In closing, despite the deja vu combat and obvious pacing and plot devices, project origin is for the old school shooter in many of us, harking back to games like Unreal, Quake more recently painkiller. Given enough ammo and you can take an army and then some, and thats all you ever need. Get it if you loved the story, atmosphere or gameplay avoid if you didn't like FEAR. For new players, project origin is a good introduction to the oversaturated FPS scene and the better option to buy on PC if you have the luxury of choosing to buy it on PC or console.
6 / 10