F.E.A.R. Files (Video Game)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Available for Xbox 360 (reviewed here), and PC
Rated M for Mature
Distributed by Sierra Games
It's hard to believe that it has been two years since a spooky little girl in a red dress named Alma scared the shit out of PC gamers world wide in the hit game, F.E.A.R. (review here). Console gamers hungry to join in on the bloodshed and mayhem would have to wait a year until the game graced our beloved 360's (F.E.A.R. on Xbox 360 review here). The game appeared again on the PlayStation 3 but (just like everything else on that over-hyped crap machine) it kind of sucked. Then PC gamers got another treat in the form of an expansion pack called F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point (review here). Once again console gamers would have to wait a year for the game to appear on their systems, and that time is finally here with one big difference -- instead of just getting Extraction Point we're getting the brand new expansion pack, Perseus Mandate along with it. There is a dark evil god!
While all of the above may be a tad bit hard to follow along, that's nothing compared to what's been happening to the franchise since 2005. There have been a lot of intellectual property battles going on between several developers and honestly it's a wonder this game has seen the light of day. Now that it has though ... let's dig in!
Extraction Point takes place right after the events of the original F.E.A.R.. After a mondo explosion that was thought to have taken the life of your arch-nemesis, Paxton Fettel, your chopper crashes and you find yourself in some really deep shit. It seems Fettel, his replicant army, and of course little Alma are still alive, well, and ready to frighten the hell out of you. For a more in-depth review of the story for F.E.A.R. and F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point click on the above links for a recap.
For most F.E.A.R. fans the star of this show is without a doubt going to be the brand new Perseus Mandate expansion. This chapter in the saga takes place around mid-way through the events of the first F.E.A.R.. A new F.E.A.R. team has been sent in (the character you play as is virtually identical in terms of ability to the one controlled in previous games) to join the fight against Fettel. This leads to a few plot twists which I will not spoil and ultimately a lot more questions pertaining to the game's storyline. Hopefully the official sequel to F.E.A.R. (which is now in the works) will do a lot to address all these newly added loose ends.
Honestly, Perseus Mandate is a bit of a let down. Not that the game is bad by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it's great violent and spooky fun. The problem is it feels like we've gone to the well one time too many. The addition of some new weapons and even some new creatures that pop from the shadows is welcome, but that recycled feeling is nearly impossible to shake.
The faults here can be found mainly in the graphics and the engine. You see, barely anything has changed since 2005. We're still looking at the same textures (which looked a lot better two years ago), and the same types of areas. There are just so many office buildings and warehouses we can explore ad nauseam before a slight bit of boredom starts to creep in. Still, even with the wash, rinse, repeat feel, what Perseus Mandate does right is it's heavy on the action. Some of the battles you'll encounter are almost Halo 3 type prolific in nature. You will find yourself being swarmed upon at times and when the lead and the blood start firing and splashing you're bound to find yourself having a hell of a good time.
Also making a welcome comeback to the console version of F.E.A.R. Files is the "Instant Action" option. As you'll remember from the 360 version of F.E.A.R., this mode lets you jump into the gore-strewn action of the game without having to go through the storyline. You'll find eight challenges here which you'll be graded upon by how quickly and efficiently you can make gibs out of your foes. Think you're a good F.E.A.R. player? "Instant Action" is the put up or shut up prescription you've been looking for.
And what would any video game be without some good old fashioned online frag fests? Short on replay value, that's what! There's seven different ways you can play:
They are all a blast to play, but with monster shooters like Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 out there I wouldn't be expecting frequently found match-ups. One addition that would have pushed the multi-player aspect of the game over-the-top would have been online or even offline co-op. There's nothing like fighting off the creatures of the night with some friends. Maybe F.E.A.R. 2 will bring this slice of much needed meat to the table.
All-in-all, F.E.A.R. Files is a bargain and a half for fans of the series and for casual gamers looking for some horror themed action. The two games combined give us around ten more hours of shit-pantsingly scary goodness to sit through, and that my fiends is not too shabby! It may not be perfect but it stands as a reminder that at least in the F.E.A.R. universe ... dark days are coming!
4 out of 5
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