The mild child.
Everybody likes being scared. Admit it, the first time you made it through a haunted house, you felt like a badass, ready to take it on again. But when you went back to the same house next year, the fear was gone, replaced by vacuum powered ghouls and rubber bats on strings. F.E.A.R. Extraction Point, the expansion to last year’s top PC shooter, is that second trip through a haunted house.
Extraction Point begins moments after the first game ends, when the helicopter you’re escaping on crashes right back into the city. Naturally, your goal is to make your way to a new extraction point and a new helicopter, blasting the same cloned troopers and following the same Psychic Friends Network you tried to leave behind in the original.
[image1]For the most part, that’s still quite an experience. The endless squads of Replicas execute dastardly smart A.I. routines; rushing, flanking, and otherwise coordinating for some of the most visceral gunfights around. Although the clones still constitute the majority of your opposition, some creepy translucent demons and an even larger version of those nasty robo-suits have been added to the roster.
New toys have been included as well, though they don’t come into play nearly as much as that trusty shotgun. Some of the bigger robo-troops sport laser rifles, particle cannons, or a bullet-hose of a chain gun, which are fun to use and neat looking, if underused. The best new gadget is an auto-turret you toss like a grenade. When it lands it opens up, providing you with support fire, and is a big help in open areas.
Don’t let the last statement fool you, though. Your trip to the other side of town takes you back through the same kinds of office and warehouse corridors you saw in the last game. Timegate took on the development of Extraction Point (under Monolith’s close eye, no doubt), but that seems to have had minimal creative impact. The hospital location is a little different, a least visually, and really lets the creepiness fly. Then again, what creepy game hasn’t had a hospital level?
F.E.A.R. set up an interesting story by not divulging its secrets during its gruesome and disorienting horror sequences, but those looking for answers or back story need not apply here. True, creepy little Alma returns, as does Paxton Fettel, the psychic commander of the Replica forces. Yes, you waxed Fettel in the first episode, but no, you don’t find out why he’s still around.
[image2]Anyone who’s played F.E.A.R. knows how to slow down time for headshots, and also that your opponents’ radio banter tells you everything they’re going to do before they do it. None of this has changed in Extraction Point, except that the A.I. guys can throw furniture in your path, so there’s really no learning curve. You’ll take these guys apart.
Even though the engine is a year old now, it still looks fantastic. The environment reflects every bullet you fire into it, and the physics are phenomenal, especially when going in and out of bullet-time. The sound is just as high quality, following the time lapses perfectly, and a variety of good tunes back up pivotal fights, underscoring their intensity.
Shooter expansions usually include new multiplayer options, but Extraction Point only builds on the single player campaign. This isn’t too big a deal, since F.E.A.R.’s online versus play was recently made available for free download. Then again, that makes purchasing Extraction Point an even tougher sell.
Thus, we’ve got about six hours of the same good stuff the original had in spades. At thirty dollars, Extraction Point feels more like an overpriced mod than a full-fledged expansion. Unless you’ve really got to prove you can make it through the same haunt twice, you should buy a ticket for a new ride.