Yesterday’s emergence of bullet-timey ghosts, mechanized warfare, and near pornographic levels of bloodshed can mean only one thing: The F.E.A.R. 2 demo is here! 

Back in 2005, Monolith Productions’ paranormal shooter F.E.A.R. proved that under the right conditions, survival horror and traditional first person shooter action elements can work together well.  It wasn’t a perfect marriage – while “boiler rooms” in games are usually synonymous with basements, warehouses, and bunkers, I’m pretty sure that F.E.A.R. included several rooms with actual boilers in them in addition to its office and industrial settings – but it still put together a great blend of unsettling horror and challenging gunplay, thanks to a handful of creepy scripted events and some very notable AI.

Four years and two horrible expansion packs later, Monolith returns to set things right with F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin.  If you’re an Xbox Live subscriber, the demo’s available now.  It’s also available now for the PC and on the PSN.



After a few minutes of play, it’s clear that Project Origin wants to recapture the tone of the original, from its dark and burned-out rubblescapes to F.E.A.R.’s patented “ghost vision” jump scares.  The demo takes players through an abandoned school, subway tunnel, and city street, and culminates in a brief tryout of the new power armor suit.

It certainly succeeds in creating a haunting mood.  The abandoned school comes to life in ways that F.E.A.R.‘s boiler rooms never could, and the ruined city above the tunnels also feels very real.  There’s not enough action to get a bead on how Project Origin‘s AI stacks up against the original, but the enemies seemed to go down a little too easily.  The firefights were fun, though, and featured a handful of new weapons, like the auto-shotgun and laser rifle.  Although the lighting is great, the textures aren’t; F.E.A.R. made great use of normal mapping, but Project Origin‘s textures look flat.

 The power armor finale, where the player guides a hulking, rocket-equipped BattleMech into a firefight, almost feels like part of an entirely different game, but that’s not to say it wasn’t fun.  Hopefully they’ll integrate these sections in ways that make sense, but even if they don’t, you’ll still be able to live out your dream of murdering ghosts as ED-209.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin haunts consoles and PCs on February 10th.  The title “Project Origin” was selected by fans in an online contest, and might be the worst signifier ever. Maybe I’m still upset that they ignored my “F.2.A.R. 2: ED-209 Rising” submission.