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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Sierra Entertainment
TimeGate Studios
GENRE: First Person Shooter
November 06, 2007
F.E.A.R. 3

F.E.A.R. 3

F.E.A.R. 3

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

More in this Series
 Written by Patrick Mulhern  on August 21, 2008

Reviews: More Like A.C.T.I.O.N.

After playing through F.E.A.R.'s first expansion , Extraction Point, it became clear that the studio Sierra assigned to take over the franchise from Monolith Productions was not being held to the same standards. TimeGate Studios managed to continue the series' direction as a heavy action FPS, but failed to live up to the rest of the features that made the original F.E.A.R. A refreshing experience when it was released back in 2005.

Troy touched upon both expansions in his recent review of F.E.A.R. Files for Xbox 360, but today we take a more in-depth look into TimeGate Studios' second attempt at recreating the scares that put Monolith Productions on the map.

If it Ain't broke; Don't fix it?!

As mentioned above, F.E.A.R. was originally released in 2004, around the same time as Blizzard Entertainment's World Of Warcraft. What do they have to do with each other? Well, F.E.A.R. was one of a few games released after WoW's first six months that managed to keep me playing until completion. The game looked good, played well and scared the crap out of you.

All well and good for F.E.A.R., but it already made its money and had its day in the sun. One would expect the expansions to offer a little extra flavor to try and entice a larger audience into the franchise, however TimeGate may have missed the memo. Perseus Mandate is afflicted with a me too attitude, possessing the same engine, gameplay, graphics quality, unimaginative level design and linear gameplay as the originator and previous expansion.

I will give them a little credit in level design however. Although they stayed largely linear and stuck to the box and corridor staple of the genre, TimeGate did spice it up with additional environments, textures and more aesthetic items in their interpretation of an office building. They even through in a handful of outdoor environments, but after seeing FarCry, they fail to impress.

So the gore certainly remains in the title.

The other F.E.A.R. Team

Alma, by the gods you are one scary character. Paxton Fettel, not so much, but he has an entire army at his command. Of course, Alma is an entire army herself. In Perseus Mandate, we see both of these characters throughout the campaign but they aren't used in the same capacity as they were previously. We are also introduced to a third faction early into the story, a mercenary group that is after the DNA from Project Origin, a group that seems to be sponsored by someone outside Armacham.

This is the perfect segway to remind the audience that the official sequel to F.E.A.R. - titled by its fans as Project Origin - is currently in development by Monolith Productions. The story goes that Monolith owned the intellectual property of F.E.A.R., meaning the universe and characters is their to control. Sierra, the publishers of F.E.A.R. and the non-conical expansions owned the name (they chose the awful name). This will basically cause the story to spin in two directions, one under the regime of Sierra, and the other under Monolith Productions and their new publishers (and parent company) Warner Brothers Interactive.

Safe to assume that he died a horrible death?

Sadly, Perseus Mandate followed Extraction Point's lead with turning the franchise more towards stereotypical FPS action and shedding the scares that made the original so successful. Alma is no longer the main protagonist. Instead, as the unnamed Sergeant, you are sent into the facility as reconnaissance until an explosion occurs in the facility. Then your missions changes to tracking the mercenary group while Paxton Fettel's army goes into stand-by. It isn't until the last few levels that the developer reminds you that you are playing an expansion pack set in the F.E.A.R. universe. And even these fail to produce the same chair jumping, room leaving, headphone throwing horror of Monolith's attempt.

Not all repeats

TimeGate didn't simply take Monolith's proprietary engine and add a new campaign to it for Perseus Mandate. The Texas-based developer brought back the multiplayer experience to F.E.A.R. that was missing from their first attempt. But like much of the rest of the title, there was very little difference in this multiplayer experience and the one developed by Monolith. The addition of the new weapons to the multiplayer mix is really the only change introduced by Perseus Mandate but it is a lackluster addition at best.

Here is the new Lightning Arc Gun, and a lame attempt at scaring me.

The new weapons are uninspired, unoriginal and even redundant in the F.E.A.R. universe. The new advanced rifle with a nightvision scope should be your main SMG for multiplayer and the campaign, the grenade launcher only comes in handy at times while the lightning gun is just for show. Honestly, nothing to pitch a tent about.

As for the campaign mode, TimeGate added the new elite mercenary faction, including new mechanized units that can take a beating and hand out the smack down as well. Unfortunately, the new units ? and old - are still best handled by the classic FPS weapons such as the shotgun and nailgun. That being said the new weapons definitely have their part in the game even if it is only for a few fleeting moments. Coupled with the the boss fights that are something that all the previous F.E.A.R. titles lacked, the pair keeps the action exciting. If only the sound engineer didn't make it so obvious when the action starts and stops.

Bottom Line
I agree with Troy's sentiments entirely, Perseus Mandate is best played by the most hardcore of F.E.A.R. fans. There have been many titles released since the original F.E.A.R. that best it in all but the scares department - titles which should be more attractive to the broader audience. That being said, Perseus Mandate is a stronger entry into the franchise than Extraction Point and gives a glimmer of hope for the franchise and developer TimeGate Studios.

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