F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin Multiplayer Hands-On
We were invited to Warner Bros. for an online multiplayer game of Monolith's latest.
It would be fair to say that the first F.E.A.R. was remembered more for its fright-filled single-player mode than its fairly pedestrian multiplayer. However, that hasn't deterred developer Monolith, which is expanding the multiplayer for sequel F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin. We were lucky enough to be invited to play some of the game online at the London Warner Bros. offices, where we went up against fellow journalists as well as Monolith staff.
Our preview covered four different multiplayer modes, most of which will be familiar to first-person shooter veterans. The first was an update to the first game's Conquest mode, called Armoured Front, in which two teams battle it out to be the first to capture five points across the map. The F.E.A.R. twist is that each team can activate an automated Elite Powered Armour unit, which is basically a big mech that can tear through enemies or take on another mech. Although this was the first mode we played, we actually managed to win it with relative ease. The mech units are particularly useful, though they are vulnerable to energy weapons such as lasers and rocket launchers.
The second mode that we played was called Blitz, which is Capture the Flag with a twist. The flags are actually canisters called PHLAGs, and they leak a fluorescent substance that makes it easy for the enemy to follow you. There are two PHLAGs on each map, and when one is successfully taken to the base, it respawns in its original location and is ready to be taken again. After one team has defended, the roles swap, and the winning team is the one that steals the most within an allotted time. Again, we managed to win our game of Blitz, and it was undoubtedly the most fun we had in the game.
Failsafe is an entirely new mode for the sequel in which one team has to plant a bomb at one of two nerve-gas locations. If the opposing team manages to plant a bomb, then the other team can defuse it, but it takes only one successful explosion to win the round. Adding to the excitement is that each player has only one life, so it's paramount to work as part of a team. We enjoyed this mode, but at this point in the evening many other journalists had left, leaving us to play a simple two versus two scenario with Monolith and the one remaining foreign journalist. Before we left, we also managed to have a go on the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch games. We're proud to say that we won the former, probably thanks to the amount of practice we got on the other rounds.
Although all of these multiplayer modes are variations on standard FPS game types, we're promised that more multiplayer games will be revealed at a later date. We have to say that we're thankful; though F.E.A.R. 2 feels different enough to carve its own niche, the modes we played won't divert attention from big hitters such as Gears of War 2 and Call of Duty: World at War. Given the single-player game's emphasis on horror, we're hoping for some creative alternatives to the Deathmatch and CTF, and we look forward to hearing what Monolith has up its sleeve in the New Year.
One of the most positive aspects of the multiplayer game is the level design, which is claustrophobic to say the least. We saw six maps in total, and though we reached a maximum of only seven players in our games, they all felt pretty busy. Given that the full game will support up to 16 players, you can expect F.E.A.R. 2's multiplayer to be a pretty hectic arena once it launches. We didn't get to see the leveling up in action, but we're promised an XP-based system through which you'll rank up over time.
The other big new feature is the custom loadouts, which let you have preset combinations of weapons and armour at the beginning of each round. There are three presets that you can tinker with, changing everything from your primary and secondary weapons to your grenades and armour types. The standard weapons feel somewhat generic but there's a decent selection on offer, with two standard shotguns, an assault rifle, and the hammerhead, which fires hardened spikes of depleted uranium. Then there are the three grenade varieties--shock, frag, and incendiary--in addition to proximity mines. You can also have three levels of armour, with heavier armour offering greater protection but at the expense of speed. The health system is regenerative but it's slow to refill, so it's best to take cover behind something if you find yourself under attack.
We also took time out to appreciate some of the visual flourishes in the game. The subway level featured some beautiful mosaics, as well as tongue-in-cheek adverts for "The Clog Burger" and a movie called "Snake Fist IV," which featured the tagline, "This Thanksgiving...Evil Gets Stuffed." F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin will be launching on Friday, February 13th, a release date that Warner Bros. seems to be particularly proud of, especially because it's only two weeks ahead of Killzone 2's release on the PlayStation 3. We're sure to hear more in the run-up to release, so keep your radar tuned to GameSpot.
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