Release Date: November 6, 2007
The original F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon was a first-person shooter released in October 2005, developed by Monolith Productions and published by Vivendi. The original F.E.A.R. focuses on the task of the First Encounter Assault Recon's new guy — you. You possess out-of-this-world reflexes to do combat with the enemy's army of brainwashed soldiers, all while uncovering the secrets of the paranormal being behind all of this, a little girl named Alma. The original F.E.A.R. told a dark and mysterious story while simulating amazing first-person combat. The game received amazing feedback due to the frightening and intense gameplay. Monolith utilized a new polished engine to scare the player and provide a solid, next-generation shooter with innovative weapons and real-time physics. Two years, one expansion pack and a completely different development team later, F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate has hit the shelves, but does it carry the same epic feel of the original F.E.A.R., or is someone trying to make a quick buck off of the franchise?
Fans of the original F.E.A.R. can take the story, team, purpose and location, and throw it out the window. In Perseus Mandate, you are a separate team, at a separate location, dealing with a separate problem. Imagine the F.E.A.R. franchise as a news broadcasting station. "Today, a major natural disaster swept across the nation, dealing billions of dollars in damage and bringing the death toll into the thousands. The National Guard has been deployed across the area, but things are not looking good." That conveys the epic feel, immensity and mesmerizing quality of the original F.E.A.R.
This is Perseus Mandate: "We interrupt this news report for a breaking news update! A bird has landed in my backyard! That is all." The story runs parallel to that of the original F.E.A.R., but it doesn't deliver nearly as well, lacking in both magnitude and intensity. The story and gameplay seems dry and forced, as opposed to mysterious and eerie. The game uses the same engine, physics, gameplay and scare tactics, but this time around, I was bored and disappointed, as opposed to scared and excited.
If you played the original F.E.A.R., you may remember some of the methods that the game used to scare the player. Random creepy sounds, dark and eerie guys suddenly turning into ash, and random phenomenon attacking the environment around you. Perseus Mandate uses these same tactics again, but this time, you expect it. I found myself laughing at the dialogue and "scary moments" of the game instead of gasping in terror and screaming for my mommy. The title isn't overly long, either, so I was able to complete it in nine hours, and that was at a casual pace while I explored my surroundings.
The combat is still interesting, with your reflexes kicking in while bullets fly all around you and chunks of the environment shatter into pieces. The enemy AI is just as intelligent as before and will often craft a plan to take you out. Flank you around a box of crates? You bet. Hurl over the tables and barriers at the same time to provide an enormous amount of pressure? Be prepared for it. If you were a fan of the combat in F.E.A.R., then the combat in Perseus Mandate won't let you down.
While most of Perseus Mandate uses the same assets from the original game as well as the first expansion pack, a handful of new features has made its way into the game. Three new weapons are introduced, including a new machine gun with a scope, a grenade launcher and a chain-gun that uses lightning. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find ammunition for the chain-gun, making it rather easy to forget about. Early in the game, you will also encounter the new enemy of the F.E.A.R. franchise: Nightcrawlers. They're very fast, jump all over the place and are equipped with grenades and the ability to take quite a beating — or shooting, if you will — before finally succumbing to their deaths.
Unfortunately, the F.E.A.R. franchise, or at least the engine it uses, is in serious need of a makeover. The graphics were beautiful in the time of the original F.E.A.R., but a couple of years later, it just doesn't cut it. With next-generation shooters like Call of Duty 4, Crysis and Half-Life 2: Episode 2 available, the old textures of F.E.A.R. are in desperate need to an update, from character models to the oddly large bullet holes that appear on the walls. I've been able to run beautiful games like HL2: Episode 2 with no problems, but Perseus Mandate seems to hog a lot of resources, just as the original F.E.A.R. did.
Perseus Mandate comes through the speakers nicely. Environmental ambience, from a swinging light to falling wall tiles, still feels realistic and as if they're in my own room, but in general have not been updated. The enemies still spout pointless nonsense while trying to gun you down, and as for your own character and the rest of the F.E.A.R. team … well, don't plan on hearing them much.
The multiplayer portion of Perseus Mandate is nothing to boast about. If you've played the original F.E.A.R. or if you even have Internet access, you can experience the multiplayer of Perseus Mandate. The game uses the same multiplayer as F.E.A.R. Combat, a free downloadable multiplayer version of F.E.A.R.
Unfortunately, despite the clout and exceptionally great presentation of the original F.E.A.R., there simply isn't anything more to discuss in Perseus Mandate. I had hoped for a great new expansion pack, but was instead encountered the same game with a worse storyline and even more of the same scare techniques.
Overall, F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate was a step backward for the franchise. If there are plans to release a successful expansion, the next developer should consider using an upgraded engine, creating some new assets, and continuing with the original story arc of F.E.A.R., and it wouldn't hurt to create some new multiplayer content. If you're a hardcore fan of F.E.A.R. and the world in which it is set, then by all means, pick up the game — after all, it's only $30 — but if you're a casual fan of the franchise or not a fan at all, I'd recommend passing on this one. There are much better first-person shooters out there right now, and if you've never played a F.E.A.R. game before and are considering this as being your first, I'd suggest you pick up the original instead. Perseus Mandate simply doesn't offer enough content to be considered a must-have expansion, and besides, would you rather hear about an epic natural disaster or a bird in the backyard?
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