Review: F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate – TimeGate Studios – PC

F.E.A.R. : Perseus Mandate adds proper widescreen support back into the game. The original F.E.A.R had it, and then Extraction Point inexplicably lacked it, so it was a relief to get it back and be able to see things in their proper perspective again.

Back again-again.

It opens with a “proper” intro, explaining how the first two teams are down and you’re going in and yadda yadda. As the game takes place parallel to the final events of FEAR and alongside Extraction Point, the Clone army is inactive for part of the game until they get reactivated with the resurrection of Fettel. So this time you’re fighting against mercenaries initially. After about 5-10 minutes of the game being slightly fresher, we’re back to the same old series of rooms with the same old art assets and the same old blood spatter on the walls. Your character has the same “bullet-time” ability of the guy you played in FEAR/Extraction Point, which is never really explained.

On one hand, it is the next bit of FEAR, on the other hand, by this stage I’d really appreciate some effort to mix it up just a bit, because it’s getting fucking tedious. Your two squaddies are also fucking stupid, but at least you know you’ll be rid of them quickly enough, either from some kind of contrived “we’re separated” plot point or gory death. Or, most likely, a combination of the two. This happens a couple of times through the campaign. Much of the game consists of running down endless corridors and through office buildings once again. Many of these offices naturally contain ammunition, grenades, first aid kits or body armour. Just like real offices do.

The gameplay is pretty much the same as the two previous instalments – A firefight with 2-6 enemy followed by 2-6 minutes of running through empty offices, rooms and hallways, occasionally punctuated by a telephone message or some other bit of exposition. An odd thing about Perseus is that at quite a few points it really does feel like they tried to do something a bit different with the FEAR formula. There are a couple of interesting locales, and there are also some interesting architectural points within the inevitable endless research facility. The main problem with it all is still essentially the gameplay issue presented above.

The lightning gun in action, which is the best part of the Expack.

You could, in theory stop and look at the scenery, but at a certain point a medical centre with blood-spattered walls and a couple of dessicated corpses just ceases to be creepy and becomes as samey as any other bit of random wallpaper. Unfortunately, you pass that point way back in FEAR 1, so both expacks just end up retreading the same ground ad nauseum. There’s a new Lightning Gun that’s pretty cool but you never get enough ammo for it ever to become any kind of primary weapon – another archaic design choice – “let’s make a really cool, fun weapon, then make sure the player barely gets to use it! Yeah!” I mean, the SP campaign doesn’t need to be balanced for multiplayer, after all.

There’s not much else to really say about it. I ran through it as quickly as possible. It’s better than Extraction Point, but ultimately it’s just more of the same. A solid shooter by the standards of half a decade ago with the visuals to match. Unless you love both of the previous ones, or you’re jonesing to play F2 and maybe F3 and really want to get the whole story before doing so, I wouldn’t bother with this. Especially since the story is still paper-thin, and both EP and PM are non-canon to the FEAR franchise these days anyway…

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Verdict: Skip it.

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