We went right to the heart of Monolith to discover what made the Kings of spine-chilling tick, their cultural and gaming inspirations for F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin and their burgeoning hatred of the colour grey. Let Associate Producer Eric Studer and Primary Art Lead Dave Matthews lead you by your (terrified) hand...
Why have you decided to ignore the expansion packs and continue right on from the original FEAR?
We respect what the developer who worked on the expansions did; however, it wasn't the direction we wanted to take for Project Origin and the story of Alma. We wanted to remain focused on telling the story of Alma and what happens to her at the end of FEAR. With this game we're continuing the story exactly the way we feel it should be. Remember, Project Origin is the true sequel to FEAR.
Everyone loves mech suits, but doesn't stomping around dealing death as a giganto robot detract from the subtleties of the horror?
Something that we get asked over and over again regarding FEAR has been, "When we will we be able to hop into a Powered Armor?" We wanted to give fans that chance, but thought we'd take it to the next level by giving them what we're calling the Elite Powered Armor. The EPA comes equipped with two shoulder mounted rocket launchers, and two arm mounted chain guns. The potential for destruction is incredible, and we think once players get into one they're going to love the experience. And while FEAR is about scaring the crap out of players, it's also about getting to wield kick-ass weapons, and this is without a doubt one of the best!
With that said, horror is still very much our focal point, and much like combat, we've added variety to that facet of the game. You have to remember that great scary moments require pacing and build up - without that all those tricks in the bag, the scares will start to feel repetitive and expected. We feel that, with the addition of these various aspects of combat and scares to our existing palette, we can create a new strata of experience to illustrate the evolution of
FEAR's kung fu melée combat was brilliant; have you ramped it up with new moves this time round?
We haven't added anything new; instead we've tried to enhance what we have and make them all the more effective in-game. There's nothing quite as cool as stunning an enemy with a blast of your shotgun and then jump-kicking them in slow motion. It's an element of our game that you don't see anywhere else, and we didn't want to risk making it more complicated or less effective.
Cover has always played a role in FEAR; were you tempted to take the mechanism one step further with a 'stick to' button a la Rainbow 6: Vegas?
I think there is potential to create expectations of how to play a game when you build a gameplay mechanic into how you use cover, though there's nothing wrong with that if you are trying to encourage that type of play. The AI in Project Origin has been significantly expanded upon from the first game, and reacts even more realistically to how you play. As such we didn't want to create an expectation in the players mind for how to progress through a level. If you want to blast your way through an environment, you can do that. If you want to kill every enemy at a slower pace, you're encouraged to do that as well. The AI will respond in kind, but it was key that we let players determine exactly how they progress.
As an aside, we've also added interactive cover objects. Players commented on how cool it was that the AI could manipulate the world, and wanted to do the same thing. So we gave that to them. Cover objects are optional, there to give players more choices for how they navigate through the intense fire fights they'll encounter.