F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
If you're as, um, mature as me, when you see the brand Warner Bros. you probably think of a Saturday morning Bugs Bunny cartoon. If you're my son's age, you might think of the LEGO Batman game.
But, surprise! The big WB isn't just making games about cartoon and comic book characters anymore. And it's added M to its ratings list, as well. Its new game F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin is all blood-and-guts horror without a "What's up, Doc?" or "Crash! Pow!" in sight. In fact, the game's herky-jerky stepping, dark-haired central character looks like she strolled right out of a Korean scarefest. Except, here, she's naked.
F.E.A.R. 2 is a first-person shooter that slowly drags players into the story of this super-psychic phenom named Alma. She was experimented on as a young girl by her scientist father and exposed to horrific suffering. All of which has made her into an incredibly powerful, intensely angry individual.
Gamers play as Michael Becket, a member of the First Encounter Assault Recon squad—from which the titular acronym is derived. But once they get a taste of Alma's wrath, it's quickly apparent that this game's fear has little to do with recon assignments.
In the opening scene the squad attempts to rescue the president of a malefic organization called the Armacham Technology Corporation. This company has been developing military uses for psychic ability that someone with a well-equipped black-ops force wants to steal. So F.E.A.R. is sent to the rescue. But after an initial guns-blazing scuffle, we learn that our very own Sgt. Becket has also been surgically altered with psychic implants and made a part of the strange paranormal experiments. He experiences psychic flashes that reveal a twisted netherworld populated by none other than the grim femme fatale Alma.
And so the game goes, with level after level of first-person firefights. (With shotgun, assault rife or flamethrower in hand, you mow down enough heavily armed soldiers to depopulate a small country.) Interspersed are contorted story clues, eerie visions, grotesque creatures and supernatural jump scenes. There's even a nuclear blast tossed into the mix early on—which actually marks the ending of the previous game. So you wreak havoc out in the rubble of decaying city streets once you're done storming through blood-smeared hospitals, shadowy subways and bullet-pocked hotels.
Whether your decimated foes are soldiers or mutants, F.E.A.R. 2 splays them with abandon. Gore spews everywhere—even on you. There are bloody headshots and dismembered limbs. Bodies are torn open, leaving ribs, backbones and entrails pooled on the floor.
If that mess doesn't make you flinch, the game's language will. It's obscene and abundant. I remember once reading the novel Ivanhoe and walking away after several hours of immersion in the story with its archaic English stuck in my head. Several hours with this game does the same thing, only in this case your mind isn't cluttered with "thou shalt" or "alas."
The most disturbing of the offences, though, is Alma. The game exposes her to players as both a skeletal wretch of a girl—with prerequisite stringy, unwashed hair hanging in her face—and as a curvaceous young woman. In both cases she's nude. And the latter figure (with strategically placed hair covering the front of her breasts) is part of a convoluted rape scene.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, to say the least, doesn't sit comfortably in the average family room. Though that's not really a surprise for the game's creators. A rep from its developer, Monolith Productions, was very open with his assessment of where they intended the Warner Bros. game to go: "There is a lot of satisfaction for the player in seeing chunks of flesh and buckets of blood spray out of their opponents as bullets tear through them," he said in an ign.com blog. "Hope you've stocked up on paper towels and adult diapers, folks, because we aim to make a bloody mess of things and scare the s--- out of you, all at once."
My, my, wouldn't Bugs be proud?