Hands-on: F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate

There’s something about having a piece of chocolate cake that just makes you feel wonderful. But if you happen to eat too much cake, then you’ll feel sick; the same feeling can be said about Vivendi’s FPS franchise F.E.A.R.

For the past two years, Sierra Entertainment has been releasing bite-sized standalone expansion packs that inch the story a tad further but end up leaving most gamers unfulfilled. So in comes F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate, the second expansion pack that’ll no doubt offer just enough action and over-the-top FPS gameplay to satisfy the normal FPS fan, but will ultimately leave you clamoring for more.

After some hands-on time with a recently released demo, it looks like it’s back to the same rehashed environments. Remember the water treatment plant in the original game? Now take all the water and pipes and put them underground and you got a nice sewer, which is the level featured in the demo. Unfortunately, level design hasn’t been a strong point with F.E.A.R. franchise.

One of the expansion pack’s new enemies is shown in the demo and it’s called the Nightcrawler. Honestly, I didn’t really notice any difference between plugging holes in the new Nightcrawlers or the regular Replica soldiers, because that’s what they looked like: generic soldiers. Much like the Nightcrawler, the "new" PVC advanced rifle also seemed like a retooled machine gun that happened to fire blue bullets.

Thankfully, the demo sampled another new weapon: the grenade launcher. Throughout the series, every time you get a new weapon it’s accompanied by some brief in-game cutscene, and the scene that introducing the grenade launcher was pretty neat; you encounter a door that exits the sewers and it blows open, complete with a poor slob being blown through it. Then out comes the heavily armored soldier with the grenade launcher — but this is all in slo-mo, so you get to full effect and the over-the-top cinematic experience.

While Extraction Point continued to use some of the recurring characters from the original game, Perseus Mandate will be heading in new directions with the story, presumably due to Project Origin on the horizon. You’re some new soldier and head of a new F.E.A.R. team; yeah, kind of boring. Perseus Mandate will "try" to feature more areas where you fight alongside an AI ally. In the demo, you do fight alongside a friendly ally — some soldier named Chen — but it was very brief and I ended up noticing some odd AI behavior.

For example, there’s a brief moment where you and Chen are walking through this dark corridor. Naturally, some assassins (those enemies that poof and reappear) came to attack but when one was attacking Chen, Chen stood around for a few seconds then began defending himself. Another brief AI quirk was when two Nightcrawlers clipped right through each other and began to shoot at me while standing on top of each other.

While I had no overall bad qualms about Perseus Mandate, I have a feeling that it’ll just offer another 6-8 hour single-player experience and that’ll be it. If the 6-8 hour gameplay is action-packed, then that’s fine, but other than a new weapon and enemy or two and a coat of paint in a few areas, the expansion pack doesn’t seem to jump up and scream "Get me!" But hey, slo-mo FPS gameplay still holds a niche in the gaming market; so if you like that, then by all means nab Perseus Mandate.

According to the demo’s splash page, the expansion is coming out this month, as opposed to the widely reported November 6th release date, so take that for what you will.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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