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F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate Hands-On

The second expansion pack to F.E.A.R. offers plenty of the intense combat of the original game, but you experience it from a new perspective.


We got our first look at F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate, the second expansion pack to 2005's creepy first-person shooter, at the E3 Media and Business Summit last month. We finally got a chance to play the E3 demo at the recent Sierra Gamers Week event. Not surprisingly, the gameplay feels a lot like F.E.A.R., but there are some notable additions and improvements.

Perseus Mandate will tell a parallel story to the one found in F.E.A.R. and its first expansion pack, Extraction Point. You play as the point man on a second First Encounter Assault Recon team sent to investigate the Armacham Technology Corporation only to discover mysterious mercenaries and paranormal phenomena. But for all practical purposes, you have the same time-slowing abilities as the original point man.

We began the demo separated from the rest of our team and in the underground levels beneath the city of Auburn where the first task was to link up with a fellow point man, Chen. This involves a lot of wandering through dark rooms or corridors, battling members of the clone army that you fought in F.E.A.R., and experiencing a lot of spooky moments. Surprisingly, we still found ourselves tensing up thanks to the creepy atmosphere of the game. That's an impressive feat because we've experienced many similar moments before in F.E.A.R. and Extraction Point.

One thing to expect is much larger-scale battles than before. We battled our way to what looked like some kind of dam facility that had large, multilevel rooms that made for battles with enemies above and below us. The environments still ranged from the typical industrial facilities or dilapidated structures found in F.E.A.R. to a sewer system, which is almost obligatory for each shooter at this point. It was in the sewers that we encountered the new mercenary enemies, and they're a lot tougher than the typical clone soldier. These foes were armed with the new VES Advanced Rifle, which has a cool infrared scope, as well as a burst-firing mode. This feels like a much more potent weapon than the standard assault rifle. They were also armed with the new grenade launcher, which can bounce grenades around corners, but if they impact an enemy, they explode on contact. That results in an instant kill, which means if you get hit, you'll be killed in an instant as well, so be careful.

Then there's Alma, the scary little girl at the center of F.E.A.R.. We encountered her a couple of times, and the trademark way she has of with messing with your head is still there. For instance, you'll enter a room to find a door at the other end. If you enter that door, you find yourself back in the room, only there's a small pool of blood on the floor in addition to a door at the other side. If you enter that door, you find yourself back in the room again, only the pool of blood gets larger. This keeps going on until you find that there's a door in the floor, and entering it, sends you into a pretty terrifying situation, surrounded by phantom enemies in the dark.

While Perseus Mandate will offer more of the same chills and thrills that we've come to expect from F.E.A.R., perhaps the most welcome addition is the promise that this time the story will actually have some kind of solid resolution. The first two F.E.A.R. games basically had you chasing an elusive goal that made you feel as if all of your efforts were for naught, but Perseus Mandate will give us an ending. Of course, because you're not playing as the original F.E.A.R. hero, that ending could be grim. Perseus Mandate will ship later this year for the PC. It and the Extraction Point expansion will also be packaged together for the Xbox 360 in the F.E.A.R. Files package.

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