Creepy little psycho girl Alma returns in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Monolith's follow-up to their 2005 Japanese horror-themed first-person shooter.

F.E.A.R. 2 directly follows F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon, with the story actually picking up some 30 minutes before the massive explosion that occurred at the end of the first game, following a squad of Delta Team members who get wrapped up in the experiments of the mysterious Armacham Technology Corporation and the strange psychic manipulations of the incredibly scary little girl, Alma.

Does F.E.A.R. 2 stay true to it's terrifying roots, or is the only thing we have to fear F.E.A.R. the first?

A robot suit and quick-time events. If you grabbed me in a bar and asked me what was memorably new in FEAR 2 (I'm not using the bloody full stops), that's all I'd be able to come up with. While it's a rock-solid corridor shooter, the lasting impression is one of a woeful lack of inspiration. There's plenty of stuff to talk about but nothing that demands to be discussed over a drink with friends.

After a short exposition, F.E.A.R. 2 picks up where the original left off—with a bang...Too much description would risk spoiling the game's few surprises, which are better experienced than narrated, though as it happens, there are few enigmas to unravel. F.E.A.R. 2's story paints itself into a corner, offering very little new to players already familiar with the Project Origin referred to in the title, and nothing compelling enough to wrap newcomers into its fold. With Alma now a known quantity, paranormal secrecy has been replaced by a series of near-cliche bump-in-the-night scares and murky visions that do the unthinkable where a horror-themed game is concerned: They become predictable.

Official Xbox Magazine
F.E.A.R. 2 also takes a break from the never-ending series of office and factory hallways that made the first game drag. This time, you'll blast through the nuked-out remains of a city and then barrel through the creepiest part of the game, an elementary school. Kids are untouched - as they should be - but it's downright unnerving to see gore splashed all over the primary colors of a classroom. The fresh scenery is welcome, but the game still leaves you plodding down one too many hallways. At least it takes a break from the FPS-ing now and again to give you a few exhilarating rides.

Maybe I've become desensitized, or maybe it's something about the nature of F.E.A.R. 2's gameplay that doesn't make me feel like a quivering bundle of nerves as I play it. It's hard to be scared of a little girl, even if she does have supernatural powers and wants to eat my soul, when I've got an armory on my back that would threaten the entire armies of some third world nation. At least in the Resident Evil games I feel like I'm at a disadvantage with the drought of ammo that I have to face. In F.E.A.R. 2, my rocket launcher keeps me warm at night and the monsters under the bed seem a lot less threatening.

After you've settled into F.E.A.R. 2's groove (it does feel somewhat different to the majority of shooters out there), you'll find you won't want to leave. There's a certain blood-stained beauty in storming into a room, clocking four armed guys, activating slow mo, lobbing in a grenade, taking out three of them with stunning shots to the head from a close range shotgun, and then watching as the last is obliterated by the explosion. It's combat that never gets old and is more or less unrivalled. In full flow F.E.A.R. 2 looks and sounds brilliant too, bettering the original in every way, but it is a step below the very best looking games available.

Ever get the feeling we're not all playing the same game?