"Once I beat last yearís FEAR, all I wanted was to play more FEAR games. Thatís always a great feeling to have. The intense, well-paced combat forced players to constantly search for new positions in crowded, enemy-congested rooms. The combat wasnít about circle-strafing around your enemies like in most first-person shooters that came before it. In FEAR, battles were about carefully positioning yourself behind pillars or walls so that you might be able to get a headshot on yo..."
Once I beat last yearís FEAR, all I wanted was to play more FEAR games. Thatís always a great feeling to have. The intense, well-paced combat forced players to constantly search for new positions in crowded, enemy-congested rooms. The combat wasnít about circle-strafing around your enemies like in most first-person shooters that came before it. In FEAR, battles were about carefully positioning yourself behind pillars or walls so that you might be able to get a headshot on your enemy. If you popped up or presented yourself for too long, youíd get your head blasted off by incredibly smart soldiers fixated on bringing you down. Once you sweated your way through an epic battle (and every battle was seemingly epic), you then walked around a corner and had the crap scared out of you by a ghostly little girl who wasn't nearly as clichť as she sounds. Where a lot of FPS games are all about plowing through your enemies as quickly as possible, FEAR was all about slowing players down and really making them work to get by. It wasnít perfect, but I absolutely loved it.
FEAR: Extraction Point is the first expansion pack to FEAR. Extraction Point picks up right at the end of FEAR, and I donít mean that you return to some base with your posse like you do in other games and just wander to a new location like in most games. In Extraction Point, you see the helicopter that you got in at the end of the original FEAR, it blows up, and then youíre back basically where you started. The last game sent you on a mission to sever the neural link between Paxton Fettle and his army of mind-controlled cloned soldiers and you succeeded, but you were incapable of destroying the deranged little girl that caused all the problems to begin with.
As the beginning of Extraction Point should tell you, sheís not quite done causing her chaos.
FEAR successfully merged survival horror into FPS by constantly keeping gamers guessing. By never knowing what to expect around the next corner, the game kept you on the edge of your seat and severely uncomfortable (as sitting your ass on the very edge of a chair does not provide proper posture support). The atmosphere was perfect.
Some of that magic was lost in this expansion.
Extraction Point is much more action oriented and up until the end of the five-hour long journey, the battles just arenít all that interesting. There are several reasons why this is, but the biggest and most obvious reason for this drop in intensity is because the developers chose to take the battles out of tight corridors and into much more open areas. The firefights were intense in the core game because of the narrow, confined settings. On paper, the open-space combat seems like it could work well but several of the battles resulted in me finding a single stronghold on one side of the map and picking off enemies as they came at me from the other side. Instead of forcing me and my enemies to constantly move to new positions to get an advantage, the battles in the game were more akin to the trench warfare in World War I: slow, plodding, and boring (but devoid of mustard gas).
It isnít until nearly the end of the game that the combat finally takes advantage of the open spaces. While battling through a hospital, you will walk into an open reception area that has been torn apart. No matter where you go, you have to get to a new position as soon as you fire because enemy soldiers will swarm onto you. You're also being shot at from the floors above you as well, so you canít move too far out from underneath the ceiling. The pillars and ceiling supports get ripped apart by gunfire, so dust fills the room (which is already nearly black). Youíll have no idea where your enemies were, so you just have to run and hope that they donít kill you before you can kill all of them. It was truly an intense and challenging fight that made me happy I had this game and itís one of the few battles that lived up to my expectations for this expansion.
Itís just too bad that moments like these are so scarce even though the combat is incredibly frequent. Unlike in FEAR, which paced combat rather nicely (with the exception of during its middle levels), enemies are around practically every corner in Extraction Point. Instead of emphasizing a few key battles, the developers seemed intent on throwing as many soldiers at you as possible. Because of the combat focus, there is very little "fear" in the game. This certainly makes the game more challenging and the design may contribute to the storyline - the main focus of the story in Extraction Point is that you basically need to survive a totally fucked aftermath. So, maybe the soldiers are acting more aggressively because of that, but personally, I would have prefered less battling and more scaring.
That isnít to say that this game isnít worth picking up. It is an entertaining game. The larger battlefields are a nice addition when the execution is there. When youíre not just shooting from across a giant room and youíre forced to move around a lot, theyíre very fun. The new weapons, which include a laser beam that operates a lot like the Link Gun from Unreal Tournament (basically, it just shoots a steady laser that rips apart anything in its way) and a minigun that has ridiculous recoil but destroys anything in its way, are a lot of fun to play around with. And even though I did complain that I wasnít scared all that often, there were a few times when I left a room with a chill down my spine.
The biggest issue I have with Extraction Point is that it doesnít really end. You get to the final cutscene and...nothing. Thereís no delivery. Thereís no wrap-up. Something happens, and then basically youíre told to wait for FEAR 2 to find out whatís next. The ending in a way reflects the entire game. Itís just a step out of stride with the original package. Itís good, but it isnít perfect and it certainly doesnít give you the experience that you were hoping for if you were a fan of the original FEAR. Itís like a teaser trailer for a big blockbuster movie coming out in a year, just keeping you interested and reminding you that FEAR still exists as you wait for FEAR 2 to come out eventually. That isnít to say you shouldnít buy it, but keep in mind, it isnít as good as FEAR was.
Community review by asherdeus (December 18, 2006)
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