Sunday, November 25, 2007

F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate Review

F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate, developed by TimeGate Studios and published by Sierra Entertainment.
The Good: Some new weapons, a new enemy, fun F.E.A.R. combat, almost lengthy campaign, very challenging
The Not So Good: Boring story with repetitive environments, can’t join non-expansion multiplayer games, no gameplay innovations, very challenging
What say you? This stand-alone expansion doesn’t offer anything new of value: 4/8

The stand-alone expansion pack: not quite enough for a sequel, not popular enough to require the original. Although F.E.A.R. was quite popular when it came out two years ago, so Perseus Mandate not requiring the original game is a bit surprisingly. F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate comes with a new single player campaign that parallels the original story line. The game is developed by TimeGate Studios, authors of Kohan, probably my favorite game of all time. So that bodes well, right?

F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate features the same visuals and sound as the original game. That’s not to say that F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate looks bad, as all of the nice effects (fire, grenade shockwaves) and details (character textures and animations) are intact and stack up well with contemporary games in the genre. The game still doesn’t officially support widescreen resolutions, including 1280x1024 that I use for my LCD monitor. It runs well enough, though, but having two years to fully support common settings and not doing it is questionable. The sound is the same as well, with OK voice acting (with cussin’!) and the distinctive F.E.A.R. weapon effects. F.E.A.R. featured cutting-edge graphics two years ago, so now they are slightly above average.

When a game lacks a manual, you know you are in for a good time. All F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate ships with is a CD sleeve with the key printed on it and a ten-day trial for World in Conflict (highly recommended, by the way). Oh, and the game requires the CD to be in the drive in order to run it even though you have to input your CD key in order to install; how I adore antiquated forms of copy protection. F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate features an eight-to-ten hour long campaign (depending on how many times you die: for me, many) that rivals the length of a lot of “full” first person shooters. This is really the only reason to get the game, as F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate doesn’t feature any additional multiplayer modes and you can’t even join matches that use the original game; you are better off just downloading F.E.A.R. Combat for free. The handful of new maps is generally bland and fit the industrial theme of the original game.

Unfortunately, the single player campaign F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate isn’t very exciting and didn’t grab my attention. In fact, if you were to line up this campaign and the original side by side, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate does offer a nasty new enemy and three new weapons (lightning gun, grenade launcher, advanced rifle), but neither of these things are reason enough to get the game. I do still enjoy the gameplay of F.E.A.R.: a focus on tactical action, with slow-mo to make tackling difficult areas easier. The game is just as difficult as the original at any difficulty level; I hope you like getting your butt kicked. I can’t help but feel like I’ve done all of this before, like two years ago: F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate doesn’t add any improvements whatsoever to the gameplay. In order for an expansion pack to be worth it, it must, you know, expand the original game, and F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate does not.

Short reviews are usually a bad indicator, and F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate just doesn’t offer enough content to justify buying it. If you missed out on the original F.E.A.R., just find it at a cheap price. If you need a multiplayer fix, then just download F.E.A.R. Combat for free. The single player campaign of F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate is not interesting or different enough to pay attention to. F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate offers no changes from the original game in terms of mechanics. In fact, I wouldn’t know the difference between this and the original game if put side by side. If you really really really like F.E.A.R., then you will probably like Perseus Mandate somewhat. The rest of us can ignore it.