E3 06: F.E.A.R. Extraction Point Handson
We get our hands on the upcoming expansion pack for last year's action-packed shooter.
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LOS ANGELES--E3 2006 is basically here. The same can be said for F.E.A.R. Extraction Point, the upcoming expansion pack to last year's fast-paced, horror-themed action game. The expansion pack, which is, surprisingly enough, being created by Kohan developer TimeGate studios, will apparently pick up, according to Vivendi producer Rob Loftus, "30 seconds after the ending of F.E.A.R." Which means that this preview story may contain spoilers from the original F.E.A.R.--so you've been warned.
Extraction Point will focus entirely on single-player content, continuing the story and action from the previous game. You'll again play as the same highly trained elite military operative you played as in the original game. However, unlike the first game, in which you were hunting down the powerful clone commander Paxton Fettle, in the expansion, you yourself will be the quarry of the clone army (and of creepier, paranormal critters as well). The brief cinematic that preceded our demonstration (which included sequences from various parts of the expansion), showed, among other things, the enormous, billowing explosion that takes place at the end of F.E.A.R. in the wake of the helicopter crash, a swooping shot of Paxton Fettle's corpse, your teammates wondering aloud about what happened to both you and Alma (the creepy little girl in the red dress reminiscent of the monstrous child from The Ring), and what appears to be some kind of chapel full of clone soldiers who snap to attention as the camera sweeps past them.
We began our demonstration in what appeared to be some kind of train station, just outside of an enclosed room where enemy soldiers were hiding. These soldiers showed off the same kind of aggressive artificial intelligence we've come to expect from F.E.A.R., and it was just as satisfying to blast them into piles of bloody body parts with our combat shotgun in the expansion as it was in the original game--and just like in the original game, we were able to briefly slow time around us, which helped us get the drop on our enemies. We then descended down a set of stairs ending in a doorway to observe our first moment of paranormal weirdness--a soldier's corpse slowly and limply rising to its feet behind a closing door. Like the original game, the expansion pack promises sequences that alternate between violent firefights and creepy supernatural manifestations. Once we reached the foot of the stairs and opened the door, we found the corridor to be completely clear; the corpse had disappeared. We then fought through a few more enemy soldiers and jumped down a ventilation shaft, and as we reached the end of it, the far wall suddenly retreated away from us, and a ghostly figure, presumably that of a slightly older Alma, quickly scrambled past us sideways on all fours, like a crab.
We then fought through a few more enemies and dropped through a sewer grate into what appeared to be an industrial boiler room, when ziplines suddenly appeared from the ceiling. Waves of enemy soldiers clambered down into the room, attempting to duck and weave through the cramped pipework (they apparently hadn't realized that we had brought along a rocket launcher and a handful of grenades). In the aftermath of the firefight, the stairs out of the boiler area became cut off by an ignited gas leak, which we had to deactivate by hunting for a valve to turn.
We then climbed up to what Loftus refers to as "the blood room"--an open-walled studio lined with thin metal shelves housing cans of paint, and with floors that were covered in spilled blood. We encountered one of the expansion's new enemies in this area, the shadow creatures, which are partially invisible critters with glowing red eyes that dash about on all fours and slash at you with their claws. Fortunately, we were equipped with the expansion's new weapon, the high-capacity minigun, which holds more than 200 rounds and chews up scenery, and enemies, into confetti. It was no accident that we ended up in this situation; according to Loftus, the "blood room" was designed to be torn up by the minigun; the partially-invisible enemies are difficult to draw a bead on, and the paint cans and shelves tend to get whipped around dramatically under heavy fire.
Once we passed through this area, we ended up in a different level of the subway, which caused our visual sensors to begin shorting out due to interference. When we proceeded down the corridor, it burst into flames, and the older-looking Alma strode forward to meet us, flanked by more shadow creatures.
Keep in mind that what we saw was only part of the expansion pack's story, and most likely spliced together from different parts of the game. That said, the expansion seems to have the general idea of firefights and creepy moments more or less figured out, and considering how good F.E.A.R. was last year, we're looking forward to seeing more of the expansion. Extraction point is scheduled for release later this year.
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