Review: F.E.A.R. Extraction Point – TimeGate Studios – PC

Well, following on immediately from the original FEAR, this will be a bit more of the same. An add-on to the original review, if you weeel… makes sense in that one of the main ways to get hold of the original game these days is with the two expacks bolted on via Steam, and it’ll no doubt be a freebie attached to pre-orders of FEAR 3.. sorry, F3AR (See what they did there?).

So for starters, the plot involves a helicopter crash after the end of the original game, the resurrection of the main bad guy, even he says “I know it doesn’t make sense”, and a fighting flight to safety, which is an Extraction Point (see what they did there?) in a hospital, which will unsurprisingly gives us some creepy hospital halls and rooms to fight through, decorated with bloody instrumentation. Right after we’ve first fought through a church, some streets, warehouses, sewers and a subway. All creepily lit and decorated with bloody messes on the walls and so forth.

Due to various reasons, the two expansions to the original F.E.A.R. (Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate were rendered non-canonical by Monolith after they got the rights back to their storyline and characters, and then later the name F.E.A.R.

Differences from the initial game.. well, it doesn’t support Widescreen resolutions properly, so I’m playing in a distorted 1600×1200 instead of the 1920 x 1080 of the original. Seems a bit odd to go backwards like that, but there you go..

Gameplay is pretty much the same. Running through an endless series of corridors, warehouses, back-alleys and such, all fenced off by blocked doors and all with graphics-that-would-have-stood-out-nicely-in-06.It also features that awesome bit of game design: doors that are blocked until an NPC comes up to open them for you. This doesn’t get tedious at all. When it comes to chain-link fences that I could easily vault over, you’re the kind of spec-ops elite that just doesn’t even try, and instead walks down the game-corridor that’s provided.

There’s also more than its fair share of crawling around ventilation ducts. I seriously question which game dev actually finds that kind of shit to be fun? Remember that awesome time you had in Half Life 2/DOOM/Quake/Call of Duty where you crawled around in a ventilation duct for 5 minutes? No? There’s my point. It’s just weak padding.

Oh, as another bonus, the game features smashable crates with goodies inside. Though not all crates are smashable. Just some. So, you know, keep your eyes out. We’re talking real FPS innovation here. Stuff that needed to be in the game. Because of this, getting upgrades is much slower than in the original game, as 99% of the boxes here are just scenery, so you naturally end up ignoring most of them. It would have been nice (and made sense) if the expack looked for a saved game from the original game and let you continue with your bullet time and health upgrades.

You can also melee doors open instead of just hitting he use key. And doors near an explosion will also be opened up by that same explosion. Yeah. I guess this is because doors will automagically close by themselves. Just like doors in real life do.

Oh, it turns out that I must have played the original in Normal, since I couldn’t remember, I picked “Easy” for this one, and there are health pickups literally every 6 feet, and I’m blasting through the mobs like Rambo on amphetamines, and barely touching the “bullet-time”. It’s not actually as fun as it sounds, but then again I’m not going to start again, and I’m really playing it more to finish it and to have played through it at this stage, so I won’t hold the lack of challenge against it, but whatever. I’m actually playing the game and writing this to keep me half-interested while trying to churn out an essay for my course. Funnily enough, bitching about games is more interesting.

Look! More of the same!

Because Extraction Point is an old-school expansion pack (remember those?) it has a list of things it needs to do in an adventure about half the length of the original. One of those things is to give you new weapons. As in the original FEAR, you can still only carry three, and so what you end up with here is being given many of the original weapons within a few minutes of each in some cases, along with one of the new ones. The first new weapon you’re given, or half a new weapon, I guess, is dual pistols, to be wielded akimbo. Like Max Payne. Kinda. There’s also a “grenade class” deployable turret that you get pretty early on. Later on, you get a Laser Gun and a Minigun. That’s pretty much it. There are also 2 new enemy types. Even bigger bad guys than the usual big ones, armed with miniguns and shields, and some walking mecha, bigger than the ones we saw in the base game.

When I checked out the game on Wikipedia before starting it – mostly to see which one of the two expacks is the first one, I noted that a criticism of Extraction Point was that there are more of Alma’s “creepy moments” in the game. Despite my misgivings of how they’re actually implemented in the main game, this is actually a positive point for me. Some still manage to be slightly creepy, despite how jaded I now am to the whole thing, and it’s also kind of half of the point of the game. I mean, points of differentiation. Nice graphics (for the time), bullet-time and creepy horror. If your horror game barely has any horror in it, then you’re doing it wrong, so as frequent as they come in this pack, it’s understandable and they’re actually more effective in my opinion than the ones in the original FEAR

In the end, Extraction Point clocked in at about 6 hours according to Steam, which includes time paused and alt-tabbed, though on Easy mode, so the time seems about right. Should you get it? Well, it’s more of the same. A workmanlike older shooter with some decently done horror-y bits and decent atmosphere with a nonsensical plot and sub-par widescreen support. Really though, it doesn’t add much if you’ve already played the original.

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Verdict: Skip it.

Coming up next: F.E.A.R. – Perseus Mandate. Probably.

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