STAFF REVIEW of FEAR Files (Xbox 360)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007.
by Tony Ingrassia

FEAR Files Box art For those of you who played the original F.E.A.R, you?ll find yourself right at home with F.E.A.R Files, a nice double expansion pack in one offering. Not only do you get the original games first expansion, Extraction Point, but you also get the latest expansion in the series, Perseus Mandate. For new comers to FF (F.E.A.R Files), the expansions can be played as stand alone experiences without needing a complete knowledge of the original. The original game in the series gave us some great AI, weaponry and even more chilling moments than you can shake a stick at, but I often find myself disappointed in expansions as well as some sophomore efforts, they just seem to fall short or try and ride on the coat tails of the successful original. Extraction Point starts off exactly where F.E.A.R left off, literally. It?s a very nice segue to the first expansion and offers continuity in your continuing mission. But how does it play out as a ?New? game? What does it bring to the table this time around? Well let me share my thoughts on the Expansion Double Pack F.E.A.R Files.

Both games offer unique weapons and a pretty standard HUD. You can carry no more than three weapons at a time, find a weapon you would rather have and trade it off with your least favorite. Your health is regulated by a meter and health packs are randomly scattered around maps as well as ammo and a few secret items. Your character has heightened agility, and this is carried off in the game via bullet time effects, your so fast that the world around you seems to be moving in slow motion, its all pretty much standard fare, your bullet time regenerates as you rest a bit, along with your helmet light, that will defiantly light the way at times when you feel there is no way out. The control pads layout is all too familiar and very easy to master from the get go. This caries over both expansions, so let?s get to the meat and potatoes of this double pack.

The two expansions set off trying to give us new experiences in FF, the first expansion, Extraction Point, takes you right where you left off in the original, the explosion that all but levels the Origin Facility also causes the helicopter down, now your goal is to make it to the top of a hospital for extraction. A few characters that supposedly met their maker in the original find there way back in the expansion. Extraction Point has signature AI from the original, massive fights with numerous types of horrors, great weaponry and the all familiar bullet time feature. The game is very solid, there is no doubt about that, the issues lie in ?What?s New?. Extraction Point offers a lot of the same old same old, not only in play mode but locations and situations. You can only take so many sewers and abandoned warehouses, the maps just lack a little creativity. With that being said, there is something to the skirmishes you end up in, the fights are non stop action, and while bullet time effects are far from something new and exciting, there is a fair amount of adrenaline pumping as you slow down the action and pump off a few shots with your shot gun in slow motion. The game is as grizzly and graphic as always, and while I found it not as intense as the original there are still moments that will make you jump. Unfortunately as I stated earlier the lack of originality hurts the returning gamer, new gamers to the series may not find it as lack luster and more enjoyable. The storyline is a little thin, and plot lines are really kind of secondary, so Extraction Point continues to be a little flat overall.

The second expansion, Perseus Mandate, kind of blurs the line between the past and the present in that you play as a second unit that was sent in during the original storyline. Trying to give it an alternate view from the original character, or maybe a different twist, it accomplishes neither. The characters have the same abilities and weapons for the most part, a few new toys do surface, but all in all it?s still the same character. And once again you find yourself in all too familiar surroundings, same locations, same look, same game play. Now while Extraction Point may have had some ground to stand on with newcomers, that may not hold true with Mandate, the inevitable been there, done that will set in. Yes there are some new enemies sprinkled in for good measure, but that far from makes up for the lack of overall new content. So is there something that will help elevate this experience for 360 owners? Actually there is, in the form of the Instant Action mode. Now as much as I harp on the lack of improvement, I do and have given credit were credit is due, F.E.A.R overall has always had great action and battles, and returning in FF is the Instant Action Mode were you play through short scenarios and are scored on how quickly and efficiently you neutralize your enemies. Yes these are short snippets at best, but a lot of fun none the less. Rounding off the package is on line play via Xbox Live, what little new content was tossed into the game transfers to XBL, and a few new maps also make the trip, again, unfortunately these few nuggets hardly make the experience feel any more exciting or fresh compared to the original.

So while FPS?s seem to be everywhere now a days, I have to say that all in all FF is a solidly made game, keep in mind these expansions originally surfaced a few years ago for the PC, so maybe time is catching up to them a bit in these ports, but as I said, the game is solid, its still fun to play, the creepiness is still there and you?ll find yourself moving through levels a bit more cautiously than normal. The levels are a bit stale and dated and a few of them become bogged down with a few too many paranormal flash backs, slowing the action down to almost a stand still. The stand alone expansions will most likely appeal to newcomers more than returning F.E.A.R fans, although some may enjoy revisiting the frenetic action that the series has become recognized for. I guess Extraction Point offers up some continuity for those of us returning, but I have to admit that Perseus Mandate seems to be leaning on the popularity of the series a bit more than it should. I still think you can enjoy the game on its own merit or as a returning fan, but it?s just not offering up anything that makes you stand up and take notice.

Its time to take the F.E.A.R universe to new locations and re introduce a solid story line. Solid as always, just not shining as it should.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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