It’s unknown. It’s sinister. Anything could happen at any moment. Yes, the development situation behind F.E.A.R. is as twisted as the game itself: the developers of the original, Monolith, are making their own sequel (which looks very similar, by the way), but Sierra own the rights to the name, so they tasked Timegate with making Extraction Point, the first expansion, and now this.
Instead of doing the usual expansion trick of carrying on the story, Perseus Mandate actually aims to run parallel to the events of the first game, viewed from a different perspective. You play another F.E.A.R. operative faced with different tasks, enemies, environments and armed with different weapons.
So while there’s a risk that Perseus Mandate might feature some of the repetitive indoor locations we’re used to from the first game, Timegate are fighting against this with larger outdoor areas than before, and a slim six-hour run-time. Arrayed against you are Nightcrawlers, a new kind of ultra-hard mercenary soldier who loves to hide behind stuff and flank you if he can.
There’s also something rather horrid called a Shade, a supernatural beastie who just can’t get enough tasty human blood. It can only exist in shadows – potentially a stroke of genius – so you’ll be nervously scanning dark corners with your torch and hurriedly turning on as many lights as you can, fighting the environment as well as your enemies.
New weapons include a launcher which fires bouncy grenades – perfect for those enclosed spaces – and a chain lightning gun which fires streaks of blue energy, knocking back unfortunate grunts. If the latter’s a bit Dungeons & Dragons for you, the laser-scoped rifle ought to satisfy your inner Guns & Ammo reader.
Its scope cuts through smoke- and dust-filled areas, allowing you to pick out targets you’d otherwise be blind to. These three shooters are joined by all the weapons from not only the first game but also the first expansion, so you won’t be short of a weapon with which to panickingly spray bullets into a dark corner.
It’s two years since we first faced F.E.A.R. and you could be forgiven for demanding the latest technology in your shooters. Perseus Mandate looks like the original, that’s the bottom line: it looked great back then and it looks decent now.
If you’re a technology fetishist then you’ll be better served by Crysis; but if gritty, gory shoot-outs, slow-motion bullet ballet and high-tech horror get your shotgun pumping then you could do a lot worse than taking another dose of F.E.A.R.