F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin's creepy-little-telekinetic-girl story raised more questions than it answered, due to a shocking final image likely to leave your head spinning. Reborn, the latest downloadable scenario for this horror-themed first-person shooter, occurs alongside the events of the main game and adds a cliff-hanger of its own rather than shedding much light on the events of Project Origin. F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn's apparent purpose is to further set the stage for the inevitable sequel, and to this end, this new content succeeds. Nevertheless, 800 Microsoft points ($10) is a bit much to ask for 90 minutes of the same solid but unspectacular gunplay.
In Reborn, you play as Replicant soldier Foxtrot 813, fighting alongside your cloned squadmates--until a mental intrusion causes you to go rogue. It seems that the stringy-haired Alma isn't the only one with nefarious plans, though sharing too much about the source and purpose of this telepathic mutiny would risk spoiling important plot points. Suffice it to say that considering the DLC's short length, Reborn's storytelling is surprisingly effective; even the mission descriptions are eerily vague, which is a small but poignant way of furthering the creepy atmosphere for which the series is known. The plot itself is straightforward and doesn't provide any real creep-outs, but Reborn delivers a tense final battle and a true climax that will have you pining for a sequel, which is in pleasant contrast to F.E.A.R. 2's final "huh?" moment, which probably left you more confused than fulfilled.
The action itself is far from ambitious, relying on the same weapons and enemies as in the original release but stuffing them into a tight package that focuses on giving each foe a few minutes of face time. Facing off against most of the usual suspects makes for varied combat, but this kitchen-sink approach leads to a stilted pace that doesn't suit the slow-burn atmosphere draped around it. F.E.A.R. 2's best battles pitted you against multiple enemies, letting you use your slow-motion skills to fill the air with splatters of blood and flesh. Reborn offers a few such enjoyable sequences, along with a fun armored-suit opening scenario and some splendid encounters with lanky-limbed abominations. But by retreading so much ground in such a short time, there's too much emphasis on less thrilling aspects. Escaping a claustrophobic office maze while under assault from multiple armored units isn't much fun, and a moment when jumping down to a platform beneath may result in death one time and success another makes what should be a haunting jaunt through a topsy-turvy building unnecessarily frustrating.
In spite of its inconsistency, the action is held together by F.E.A.R. 2's competent arsenal of weapons; you'll certainly make good use of your missile launcher in this go-round. Yet while the story provides a more gratifying bridge to the all-but-certain sequel, Reborn fits comfortably into the franchise but doesn't reenergize it. F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn is a pleasant way to extend your Project Origin experience, but it's not a must-play, which makes the price tag a tough pill to swallow.