"Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you"
Ah, F.E.A.R. It is perhaps one fo the best FPS titles to come out in the past few years. In its heyday, it was heralded for its single player experience and was considered a front runner for Game of the Year. The plot was engaging, the scary moments were genuinely scary, and the tension that led to each encounter or scary moment was unrelenting. Just when you thought it was safe to turn out your flashlight and head for the exit, some incredibly twisted **** happens and you're sucked right back into the hell hole you're trying to climb out of.
It's no suprirse that a game as acclaimed as F.E.A.R. has provided two expansion packs. The first, Extraction Point, was a solid expansion that, while not providing anything really new, it did give us more insight into the world of Alma and Paxton Fettel. It also provided us with something we all love; more F.E.A.R.
So one could safely guess that the second expansion pack, F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate would also provide some more of the jaw-dropping, high-octane gunfights as well as genuine scares, right? Well, yes and no.
Perseus Mandate begins roughly thirty minutes before the big explosion from the first game. You are once again an unknown Sergeant of the F.E.A.R. branch of the United States government, and have been called in to investigate the loose ends left by the first F.E.A.R. team. The game begins well enough, dropping you right into the action and instantly reinitating you into the world that Monolith built. It wasn't long before my trigger finger was itching and ready to go, as well as my trusty old WASD compilation.
The good things in Perseus Mandate are all the things we've seen before. Great scares, good music and a decent story that, while may not even rank next to Extraction Point, does provide us some more background information on just what the hell is going on. Paxton Fettel returns, as does Alma (briefly), and the paranormal world is colliding with our own once more. What's not to love?
Well, a few things, really. F.E.A.R. was pretty much a perfect game. It had great graphics, a great score, and the gameplay was fun--as well as challenging. The problem with Perseus Mandate, I think, stems from the fact that it's still just more of the same. The scares are there, yes, and so is the intense gun fighting... but something seems to be missing. There's just something not right about Perseus Mandate, and I'm honestly not quite sure what it is.
The combat is still fun, but I'm starting to believe that it's wearing a little thin. The AI is still incredibly smart and adapts to your tactics, and the guns themselves still give a nice crunch, allowing you to vivisect any Replicant or Mercenary in your path... but it starts to lose its luster after awhile.
The problem with the combat stems from the fact that we've all done this before. All of the areas are roughly the same as those found in the original FEAR, and even the Extraction Point expansion. All of them. There is nothing really new to be found here, and given the well-documented news about Vivendi Universal and Monoltih splitting, one cannot help but think that Vivendi is just trying to get its last few shots in before they can't make another FEAR game. It's a shame, really, because with all things considered, TimeGate has done a very competent job here.
The weapons are still varied, but they're also the same as they've ever been. I think I saw one or two new weapons, but that could've been because I haven't touched FEAR since Extraction Point a year ago. The enemies--the new ones, anyway--still behave like the old ones in new skins, and the few appearances that those ****-sucking Mechs make, don't last very long and, if I dare say, feel easier than before. That could be because I'm a seasoned veteran of FEAR, but I distinctly remember the ED 209's being tough as nails and almost impossible to beat without God Mode enabled. D'ah well.
I think, personally, where Perseus Mandate really shines is in its presentation. The graphics are slightly upgraded, and the sleek design of underground labs and the dankness of the underground city are still appeasing to the eye. The models however, look and feel dated. They still look good, but this game could have easily came out in 2005, not 2007.
With that aside, Perseus Mandate does provide some genuine FEAR moments. Running away from an ED 209 and dropping levels in a building, only to hear the thing thudding around upstairs and seeing the concrete sift and fall to the floor, the lights flickering, it gives you a real sense of "Oh ****", and that's something I think every game needs more of.
The scares themselves are also well done. After playing for awhile, you'll be sucked right into Perseus Mandate and won't be likely to leave it unless absolutely necessary. The scary paranormal moments still have that "Through the Looking Glass" vibe, and I'm glad it's intact.
There are also a couple of never-before-seen ghoulies as well. I'm not sure of the name, but you'll know them when you see them. They will genuinely scare the **** out of you, so take my advice and avoid the black spots.Closing Comments
What to say, what to say? Perseus Mandate is a competent shooter, and it lasts around six-to-eight hours, which is much longer than a standard expansion, and even longer than the much heralded Call of Duty 4... is it worth it, though? I think so. I enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed the gameplay, but I was still left with a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth afterward. After the decent finale (that is straight out of Extraction Point--more bottom-barrel digging), you're left with a sense of accomplishment... but then you think, what the hell was the point of that? You don't really discern anything new, and the main players (Alma, Fettel, and the original FEAR dude) are either non-existant or almost are. Still, I suppose that, for FEAR fans, it'll tide you over until Project Origin is finally unleashed.
be released, right Monolith?