piątek, 11 marca 2011

Short Review #19: FEAR - Perseus Mandate

Perseus Mandate is the second expansion to the original FEAR, and one that is considered to be the weakest part of that first part of the FEAR franchise. Let's get this out of the way - yes, Perseus Mandate isn't as good as either the base game, or Extraction Point, but I don't think its as bad as some people are inclined to think. Let's see what are the games strong and weak parts.

Starting with the good stuff, Perseus Mandate is an ok tie-in with both of its predecessors. Some stuff which happens is directly linked to those previous games, which gives a nice feel of a coherent timeline. The plot itself is so-so, its main shortcoming being the fact that it doesn't really explain much. After two games you would expect another expansion would shed some light on what is really going on, perhaps give some background to the paranormal side of things (I still don't know the origins of a certain type of enemy, for example, and it feels like it's high time they addressed that) or give the player some new knowledge. Technically, it does that, but only by reinforcing directly something that has been implied indirectly before - and as much as important, it's not a groundbreaking twist in the end.

The new weapons are somewhat cool. On the other hand, the new type of enemy, the Night Stalkers aren't really that different from the Replica Forces. Also, for some bizzare reason, the enemy AI has taken a noticeable plunge in Perseus Mandate. I was playing on easy, true, but I did the same with Extraction Point and in that latter game the enemy would still behave as ingenously as in the basic FEAR. Here I found that I often enemies would just casually walk into my line of fire, and I could basically fight most of them using melee attacks - something I wouldn't even try in previous games because I wouldn't want to lose the time which could be spent on covering fire. The enemies also kind of stand around until you start shooting or come REALLY close. At certain times I would almost walk past an enemy, not seeing him, with no reaction whatsoever from that character. Also, there's an old-school boss fight at the end of the game which doesn't fit into these games in the slightest.

There are some good scares, but they are scarce. They seem to have focused on the combat bit of the game more this time around. What is there is cool, and one particular scare is very impressive, but sadly it's being overused a lot, which makes it a bit lame by the end of the game. However, most of the scares seem to lack that coherence they had in the previous games. Here it seems like the designers just thought 'Well, he had his fighting section, throw in a creepy scene now.'. They seem forced, artificial in a way, a 'whatever works' kind of thing. Also, none of them really surpass what has already been done before, though I have to admit, some stuff comes pretty close.

On thing that has to be addressed is that both the main character and some enemies can use that bullet-time ability from the previous games. Understandable, since combat can still be pretty cutthroat and without that ability it could end badly very quickly. But I thought it was well established that the main character from the basic FEAR and Extraction Point had this ability for A GOOD REASON, and it doesn't really make any sense that this nameless operative would have it too. Oh, and by the way, after getting through all three of these games I'm pretty sure that a silent protagonist is not the best solution for a horror-like game. Some radio chatter goes unanswered by the protagonist and that is just weird. In some other situations it would really pay well to add some commentary from the character to make the player even more scared.

Like in Extraction Point, some locations seem very much reused, which is rather lame. It isn't as bad as in the basic game (which is the biggest offender out of the three in that regard), but still deserves mentioning. On an unrelated note, the game offers some special timed missions after you finish the campaign (which is around half way between the length of the basic game and Extraction Point, so pretty good), but those are just more fighting and seem ill fit and rather pointless.

Summing up, Perseus Mandate is definitely the weakest of the three games, and is a fare which should be considered only by people who enjoyed the first two games and feel like they'd like more of the firefights and a tad more of the horror. I bought this as a separate game while I got FEAR + Extraction Point in a single pack and so I feel a bit cheated on this side, as the latter has a much higher value than Perseus Mandate solo. But hey, that's how it works. I had my fun, for the money I spent on this I enjoyed myself rather well, so there. 6/10.

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