Project Origin Updated Hands-On
Warner Bros. dropped by with an updated build of Project Origin, and we got a chance to see how Monolith's F.E.A.R. sequel is shaping up.
Project Origin is both a sequel and a fresh beginning for the F.E.A.R. series. While it will continue the story of its predecessor, it promises to be more action-oriented thanks to an increase in outdoor environments. Certainly, the addition of mech-based combat is a new direction for the series, even if it isn't for developer Monolith, which has produced large-scale games in the past. We got a chance to look at an updated build of Project Origin today when Warner Bros. popped into the office, and the publisher was kind enough to tell us about where it's hoping to take the game when it's released in the first quarter of 2009.
Playing the game on the Xbox 360, we got to see how Project Origin's open outdoor environments are set to change the dynamic of the combat. Many of you will remember that the original F.E.A.R. had its fair share of scary moments, and while they still occur in Project Origin, the urban environments have been incorporated to allow for a distinct change of action. The gunplay is frantic and violent, while the enemy AI looks like it has learnt even more about using flanking techniques, as well as taking cover. Enemies open car doors to use as cover, but thankfully you can use a sniper rifle to shoot off extremities that peek out around the edges. If you shoot a soldier in the leg, then he'll hobble over to stronger cover, or you can be safe and use a rocket launcher to blow the entire car up.
One of the key new additions to the game is mech combat, which we got to try out two-thirds of the way through the demo. Long-time Monolith fans might remember the game Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, a mech-based game that the company released back in 1998, and it looks like it's returning to these roots with Project Origin. As you might hope, you become much more powerful in a mech suit, with both a chaingun and a rocket launcher to play around with, but your movement is severely restricted. We were disappointed to find that you can't fly or even jump in the suit, and if it becomes too damaged, you have to eject completely. If you're in the middle of a battle against another mech and you have to eject, then you last about five seconds without the heavy armour.
Warner Bros. also used its visit to explain some more of the storyline as we were playing. Alma, the creepy girl who haunted you throughout the first game, will make a return in a more mature form. While you spent most of F.E.A.R. wondering whether you should kill or protect Alma, you now at least know that she's the reason behind all of the strange occurrences. In Project Origin, she's now grown so old that Warner Bros. referred to her as "hag" Alma, in reference to her fairly withered state. We saw both versions of Alma within a short space of time; first, as the young model crawling around on the floor; then, as the older version appearing naked and floating in the air. We weren't told why she grows old in the sequel, but we're sure that it will shed plenty of light on the occurrences from the first game.
We were told that you'll start the game 30 minutes before the end of the first game, so you'll get to see F.E.A.R.'s explosive ending and its aftermath. We also saw that the famous slow-mo feature makes a return in Project Origin, although we actually preferred to move quickly through the level we played and only used this feature a couple of times during our time with the game. Additionally, Warner Bros. let us know that there is some big news for F.E.A.R. fans in the very near future and that the multiplayer game should be shown off in the UK around Halloween. We'll be on hand when it all happens, so stay tuned for more on Project Origin as soon as we get it.
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