F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate Hands-on
Here's a video:
We test out the second expansion. HD direct-feed included.
by Charles Onyett
September 27, 2007 - On both sides of your computer monitor, the F.E.A.R. universe is a truly tumultuous place. Monolith Productions, the studio behind the original game, recently settled on a title for their full sequel, Project Origin. F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate, the subject of this preview is the second expansion to Monolith's original, developed by TimeGate Studios, the folks behind the first expansion pack, Extraction Point.
Things start to get a little hazy, however, if you look a little further into the future. Sierra, the publisher behind the first title and the two expansion packs, still owns the rights to the F.E.A.R. name. That's why Monolith had to come up with a new one, using a fan submission contest to do so, under their new publisher, Warner Brothers Interactive. TimeGate can still use Alma and the rest of the staple elements from F.E.A.R. in Perseus Mandate because it builds on the original. Sierra cannot use any of that in the sequel we're assuming they'll eventually announce, though they can use the F.E.A.R. title. Monolith, on the other hand, was stripped of the title, but has the rights to the rest of the intellectual property, like characters and such.
Make sense? Don't care? Just want to dismember things in slow motion with laser carbines? Fair enough.
Perseus Mandate, from the beginning parts we shot our way through, plays precisely like F.E.A.R. and Extraction Point. In fact, the environments at the beginning of the game look almost identical to those in F.E.A.R, set in underground parking garages, darkened office buildings, and grayish corridors. The storyline is a little different, however, as you follow a second F.E.A.R. squad in a timeline that runs concurrently with the original. As the first F.E.A.R. team is making its way through the Armacham facility, you're sent in with a team to uncover Perseus, whatever that may be.
The action starts with you and a F.E.A.R. team dropping out of a plane near Armacham and landing in some dry viaducts on your way to an ATC Data Center, where you're supposed to retrieve some kind of vital information. On the way you learn a Delta Squad had previously been dispatched to the same location but dropped out of communication, a development that's added to your list of objectives.
During the sections we played, we didn't encounter Paxton Fettel (villain from the original game), though he was mentioned at the beginning. Apparently the significance of Perseus is supposed to dwarf that of Fettel, though we find that hard to believe considering his involvement with releasing Alma in the first game. Of course we'll have to play more to find out for sure.
The little girl in the red dress does appear to be involved in some way. We didn't get to actually see her, but a few radio messages received as we wandered around the shadowed, bleak environments suggested one team member experienced a sighting. Since the game takes place before the revelatory events at the end of F.E.A.R., nobody really knew who she was or what she stood for, so the report is brushed off as nonsense.
Many enemies from the first game return in Perseus Mandate, from the armored Replicants and Heavy Armors to the ATC squad members. Through the course of the first interval, you'll square off against all of them, pick up a reflex booster, grenades, health packs, armor power-ups, and everything else you'd expect. You also get one new weapon: the grenade launcher.
This thing is quite the entertaining weapon, as it can rapidly trigger multitudes of those lovely, shock-wave explosions in a short span of time, sending enemies flipping every which way. Another new addition to the arsenal, called the advanced rifle, can be picked up near the beginning of the second interval. Though it behaves in a similar fashion to the standard scoped rifle, it features an infrared scope to pierce through the thick clouds of dust so frequently kicked up during combat.
New enemy types called Nightcrawlers coincide with the appearance of the advance rifle. They look fairly similar to Replicants, and, from what we experienced, behaved the same as well, though from a screen we just uploaded it appears they can stick to ceilings. What we didn't get to see is the electric arc gun which, as the name strongly implies, can fire out bright electrical blasts to wreak havoc upon enemy synapses.
Radio and phone messages will again serve as the primary storytelling device. For those who crave profanity in their dialogue, rest assured the f-word will be tossed out on more than one occasion. Lines like "****, help me!" and "Heavy armor, ****!" were uttered by squad members during the first interval. Speaking of squad members, it seems a few will tag along nearly everywhere you go in this expansion, proving moderately helpful during fights by drawing enemy fire.
One thing that seemed to be lacking were F.E.A.R.'s trademark scare sequences. Since Fettel and Alma seems somewhat disconnected from this game, we're not sure yet who the primary, freakish antagonist may be. It wasn't until we came upon an empty industrial yard populated with pipes and metal planks (where have we seen that before?) that we actually jumped up and ripped off our headphones. While descending a ladder, we heard the now familiar static crackling of the "origin unknown" transmissions that coincide with supernatural events. A man suddenly appeared beyond the ladder, sauntering into an alleyway. We followed, naturally, after reaching the ground, only to find an empty alley with a first aid kit. Upon turning around, we saw the man had reappeared directly behind us, and was spouting some line with a heavy reverb effect on his voice. Since we'd torn off our headphones at this point, we had to reload the game to try and make out what he actually says. The audio distortion on his voice unfortunately made it very difficult to do. But no matter; the ghostly gent was someone we hadn't seen before in previous games, so perhaps he's the new villain. In accordance with F.E.A.R. tradition, the ghost ended his appearance by flaking away into nothingness.
Though the environments, visuals, and sounds may be nearly identical to the original game, Perseus Mandate still boasts an entertaining combat model. We'll be back to let you know if it holds up the rest of the way through when we review this game closer to it's November release date. PC gamers will find it available as a standalone expansion, and Xbox 360 gamers can play by picking up the F.E.A.R. Files retail box, which also includes Extraction Point.