The Five: Project Origin
The 10-Cent Tour: The creepy sequel promises more slow-motion firefights, fewer vacant office/vacant warehouse environs, and a bona fide third act this time around. Does it deliver? Uncle Crispy has the answer.
1. The plot: It has something to do with that pissed-off creepy little girl again. Man, does she ever give us the heebies! Mostly, the plot gives us a vague excuse to run around and shoot every damn thing in sight with impunity. And since this is the sequel to F.E.A.R., you can use your magical slow-motion powers to get the drop on enemies. This means you'll spend around 10 to 15 hours watching guys sail backwards and explode into a pile of limbs, which sounds pretty good to us.
2. The enemies, aka the Replica, seem a bit smarter than they did in the original game. Evidence of this: When one of them caught on fire, he knew enough to stop, drop, and roll. Naturally, while he's doing this, you can shoot him. Being shot while trying to put out the flames that are burning you? Now we know what it feels like to be married to Charlie Sheen. Don't forget to tip your bartenders! Goodnight, everybody!
3. By far the most dramatic new gameplay element in the game is the addition of the Lost Planet-style mech suits. You'll have plenty of opportunities over the course of the game to drive one of these babies around and blow everything -- including enemy mechs -- to hell. Also: The devs got your angry cards and letters about the monotonous office-warehouse-office-warehouse levels from the first game. They're promising richer, more varied environs this time around. We say: "Yay."
4. Forget collecting those little white boxes with the big red crosses on them whenever your health is depleted. Find a safe place, keep your virtual head down, and your health will magically regenerate ? la Halo.
5. The game's physics engine is a marvel. During our demo, a mech and a soldier were bearing down on us. As they approached, we tagged the mech with a couple of rockets (the mech's targeting system highlights your greatest threats in bright red and lesser threats in orange), and lo, something beautiful happened: The splash damage from the 'sploding mech drove the soldier into the air, his arms flailing. He landed against a nearby electrical pole, hung there for a half second, then plummeted to the ground. Those who witnessed this let out long, satisfied "Was it good for you, too?" sighs.
The Crispy Forecast: Mix of sun and clouds, with the occasional "BOO!"
This preview was based on a publisher-driven demo of the game. "Coming soon" was about as specific as the developers were willing to be about the game's release date.