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Byline: Ewan Ross

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (Monolith, XBox360, pounds 39.99) I don't think there are enough expletives in the English language for me to describe my disdain for "horror film teenagers".

This lesser-spotted moron is usually seen dying after a collection of poor judgement calls lead him/her to a spectacular demise.

I have found there is a formula that can be applied to this: If A is the level of their stupidity; B is their awareness and C is the scariness of the beastie in question, then (A2+B) - C should equal exactly how many nanoseconds one should consider watching these half-wits.

The golden rule to B-movie horror survival is: Don't go into that cellar where all those ungodly shrieks are coming from, and if you really really have to, at least arm yourself with more than a candle.

So with all that in mind, when I see similar half-wittedness leaking into the games world, I can't help but get irked.

F.E.A.R. 2 is a first person shooting game that tells the story of an assault squad who are recruited to fight supernatural anomalies.

The First Encounter Assault Recon team is a collection of soldiers who have to fight a highly psychic girl called Alma Wade who has destroyed the city of Auburn with a "psychic nuke".

But the squad aren't totally outmatched, having been 'altered' to make them more resilient to her powers - with a relationship they share with Alma.

F.E.A.R. 2 has fluid controls, good graphics and uses plenty of tricks to up the suspense. In particular, the fights in which Alma decimates corporation troops (the other enemy in game) are truly horrifying.

Another nice feature is the bullet-time mode which allows your character to slow time down to take out multiple opponents.

There is a lot of hat-tipping to the classics in both film and game genres - most notably The Ring and Matrix with a hefty dollop of Max Payne thrown in.

So you'd think with all this, success would be written all over it. not exactly, and this comes back to my point about "horror film teenagers".

You see, as much as I get annoyed by Bubba and Cleetus deciding to take their idiotic trip into the cellar, I also find myself feeling the same way about F.E.A.R. The problem with Monolith's new title is not to do with poor artistry, programming or game structure - it ticks all the boxes where needed.

The dilemma lies is in it being unforgivably linear and with today's next-gen capabilities, this type of shoot 'em up should have remained buried.

Reanimating this zombified hokum just makes me want to put my foot through the TV.

Rating: Oh D.E.A.R - 4/10

The House Of The Dead: Overkill (Headstrong, Wii, pounds 39.99) Now if you want a good horror game - but something that doesn't take itself too seriously - you can't go far wrong with the latest in the House of the Dead series.

Previous incarnations have always fallen foul of the overly done anime style with dialogue that just didn't work.

Thankfully Overkill has cast all that aside and tried for a humorous approach which borrows generously from Grindhouse cinema.

The play style remains the same, using the Wii wand to depose crowds of Zombies. Upgrades can also be achieved as you take your hard-earned winnings to the store.

But where it really shines is with the humour.

Granted, it is over the top and the language gets a little gratuitous, but few games have what it takes to make you laugh - this one can do it in spades.

Overkill is a worthy successor to the series and extremely fun.

Rating: 8/10 - Dead reckoning
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Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 13, 2009
Previous Article:Film: FRIDAY THE 13TH (18); Schlocky horror 4/10.
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