Project Origin Preview
Although F.E.A.R ended up being inferior on the PlayStation 3, were not about to hold that against Monolith for their upcoming title, Project Origin. Were all allowed a little slip-up or two, especially when it comes to very new and very complex hardware. However, in our estimation, the grace period is over, and were expecting nothing but good things from this latest survival/horror adventure blended with a first-person shooter. F.E.A.R, despite its shortcomings on Sonys platform, lived up nicely to its name and provided gamers with a creepy and atmospheric experience that gripped us from the start and never let go. And now, thanks to some new details from IGN UK featuring interviews with a couple Monolith team members, we have enough information to formulate a preview. First up, if you were a fan of that aforementioned dark FPS, you may or may not like the following fact: Monolith wont be focusing so much on the supernatural this time around.
If you talk to those who finished F.E.A.R, they might tell you they were confused with various aspects of the story, and according to Monoliths Craig Hubbard, the new challenge will be to make the narrative clearer and easier to follow without sacrificing the mystery. If thats the case, they may want to take a hint from Hideo Kojima video game storylines wouldnt be the same without him because that particular master excels when it comes to combining depth and accessibility. Its rare that we find a FPS with such an intense literary appeal, and while we know some of it came from the freaky visuals that accompanied the story, we appreciated the captivation factor. To get a firmer idea of Project Origin, perhaps one should imagine an intriguing blend of Resident Evil and Half-Life, which ought to interest a very wide audience. Some of you may be thinking that its essential to have played F.E.A.R to fully understand this latest project, but while Origin is certainly related, we dont believe prior story knowledge is essential.
Youll be playing as Delta force member Michael Becket this time around (you may remember the Delta having an awfully hard go of things in F.E.A.R), and in this pseudo-sequel, you will take hold of Becket just before F.E.A.Rs riveting climax. Obviously, you have to keep going past that climax in Project Origin, so Becket and Co. will be forced to deal with the ensuing fallout. Alma will make her return how can we possibly be without her? and although were not certain of the role she plays, were not really supposed to know. Even if we did, we wouldnt spoil it for ya. Anyway, moving on, we will see several new gameplay features in Project Origin, as it seems Monolith have worked to present gamers with something that is more engrossing and more authentic. Perhaps most important is the sound, which this particular developer has understood in the past; not only with F.E.A.R, but with both its Condemned titles. Honestly, true fear arises from our very own imaginations; what our brains can concoct and what we can visualize in our head is always far worse than the final result...
Whats that scraping sound? Whos shuffling along in the dark? dare I open this door? Sound is absolutely crucial for installing an appropriately chilling environment, and Monolith knows this. In addition, theres one neat-o feature that needs our attention: the visor Becket wears. In order to enhance that authenticity factor, your visor will react realistically to your surroundings. If you walk into a room much colder than the area you just ran through, for instance, the visor will quickly fog over, leaving you temporarily blind. If youre too close to a baddie and you rip him to shreds with a powerful firearm, the abundance of blood that follows will coat your visor. Obviously, the player does have hands, so itll be a simple matter of wiping off your visor, but it certainly adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay. Youll have to pause to do this, and we wonder if it might affect our ability to attack; were sure itll affect our ability to move if we cant see, and that alone can cause problems. Hence, while there will be a certain amount of running n gunning, the player must also take his time and mind his environment. Thats an admirable quality in a game such as this.
Last but not least is something that should make this particular title more gruesome and fearsome than any other on the market. We didnt see them in F.E.A.R, but now theyre here, and theyre the worst examples of a science experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong. According to IGNs description, these are heavily mutated results of some of the Armacham corporations more twisted experiments. These things are like the Splicers in Bioshock, only the latter appear to be members of a hi honey, Im home 1950s television family in direct comparison to the mutated insanity that roams the dark places in Monoliths new production. Theyll even use their own feces as writing tools to convey their innermost thoughts - eeeewwwww - thoughts that arent even remotely rational. Perhaps while their dementia has the best of them, we can take care of business from behind, just because we really dont like the idea of facing these things mano-a-freako. Very often, the scariest creature is one with a broken mind, simply because its entirely unpredictable.
We see Monolith using many of the same attributes Alfred Hitchcock would instill into his movies; intense sound, insanity for frighteningly unpredictable situations, and the mere presence of a being (Alma) that may or may not be the anti-Christ. We expect a great deal of mystery in Project Origin, but we also expect a great deal of action, blood and leap-out-of-your-seat moments. Perhaps were a bit jaded these days, but were still the same dudes who jumped about a foot in the air when those dogs busted through the window in the original Resident Evil. Its a dark corner of humanity, and if its done correctly, Origin will embrace it wholeheartedly. Much to our delight.
6/12/2008 Ben Dutka