By Chris Matel
Admittedly, sometimes I scream...
If it's at least one thing Monolith Studios is good at, it's making dark, demented and oops-I-crapped-my-pants-because-I-wasn't-expecting-that-scary-ass-thing first-person shooters. Sticking with their strengths, Monolith make a return to the F.E.A.R universe, enraged little girl Alna and all. This time around you play as a commander who's gained his psychic powers through military experimentation, namely: Project Paragon. Unlike those born to be “special,” you've been molded into a powerful tool, genetically. The setup makes sense as to why a new character has powers similar to the original protagonist, so taken at face value, things will at least be logical.
Whereas sequels usually have you returning to a game as the same character from a previous catastrophe, Project Origin is of a similar exposition to Ubisoft's Rainbow Six: Vegas games; you play in a portion of the timeline from the previous game, as a part of another squad.
What would a sequel be without new-and-improved stuff...
The demo on-hand (both in the meeting rooms and on the convention center's concourse floor) showcased a few gameplay changes which John Mulkey, the project's lead designer, said was for the better. Right off the bat he demonstrated that aiming will no longer switch between your sights and the normal first-person view by quick camera cuts. Instead, things have been streamlined into a more familiar mechanic of aiming, with an animation of your character moving your weapon to eye-level.
Also new to the series was an added weapons slot so you no longer have to choose between a rocket launcher or a sniper rifle; now you can have both. Finally, fans of the original game will notice the inclusion of a limited sprint ability.
Who wouldn't hide behind something if they're getting shot at...
The level we were shown took place towards the middle of the game, after you had been split up from the rest of your squad. Making our way out of the sewers and into streets filled with rubble, destroyed cars and an overall dilapidated environment, we were greeted by several enemies, and their bullets.
Mulkey noted the dynamic responses NPCs were capable of producing in the game. Even though we played on the lowest difficulty, enemies were smart enough to use effective covering by kicking over desks (something you can do as well) or hiding behind car doors that had popped open from firefights. Though not all of the AI was as smart as the rest, having enemies search for cover gave the demo a stronger sense of realism and difficulty. It looks like Monolith may have also learned a bit from 2K's BioShock as enemies set on fire searched out bodies of water to extinguish their flames; no static deaths here.
B-l-o-o-d. So where's Bill Cosby...
Though even in the pre-beta build of the game's cycle, things were looking good—save for the chuggy framerate of the early code. From the gelatinous blood spewed from exploding heads or vicious sniper shots to the torso, to the particle effects for powdery clouds of smoke, and even with the fun-yet-limited environment destructibility of buildings and objects, the game looks to be shaping up very nicely. Textures and lighting also appeared more detailed than the studio's Condemned 2 game from earlier this year.
Okay, it's not really a sequel, but it is the second game of the series. When do we get to play...
Other little details like vaulting over obstacles with one hand, defined hit detection leading to enemies dropping heavy weapons for pistols because of injury, and purely badass drunken missiles fired from heavy, mech-like suits (a play on the studio's Shogo days) make Project Origin appear to be on the right path with just enough to keep linear gameplay interesting.
More details on game modes and such are coming down the line, along with a post-E3 release announcement. It was confirmed, however, that we can expect demos over respective download services; just when they show up is the question.
Though the extremely lit, bustling and loud nature of the conference made the in-game atmosphere less frightening than a 60's horror flick, we still can't wait to have a shot with the final product in the future.