Author: Mark Boehm
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Vivendi Games / Day 1 Studios
2005 saw the PC release of F.E.A.R.: a first-person shooter that blended fast-paced action with dark, atmospheric horror elements. Following its commercial and critical success, two expansion packs: Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate were created, building upon the storyline of the original title, offering new levels, enemies and weapons. These expansion packs have now been bundled for the Xbox 360 in F.E.A.R. Files. But two years is a long time in the gaming world. Without any serious improvements since the original, F.E.A.R. Files seems somewhat dated and repetitive.
That said, the game features an impressive and highly entertaining style of gameplay, and a large part of this can be attributed to a combat feature that allows you to slow down time. If you’re a fan of videogame violence (and who isn’t, really-), there’s nothing quite like releasing a slow-motion shotgun blast into a helpless enemy at close range. At other times the ability can provide much-needed respite from gun battles that are almost too intense.
But respite is generally short lived in this game. After narrowly surviving a typical encounter with “replica” soldiers, there’s barely a moment to ponder the bloodstains you’ve left all over a warehouse floor before you are flung into some nightmarish dimension or set upon by apparitions that wouldn’t look out of place in a Japanese horror film. These parts can be genuinely frightening, but it’s the small things that really give F.E.A.R. Files a horror genre feel. Flickering lights, sudden movement in the corner of the screen, distant sounds and scattered bits of writing on the walls all combine to provide such an effectively suspenseful atmosphere. On several occasions I found myself nervously emptying a clip into a wall, only to realise I had been startled by my own shadow.
And the story- Well, sadly, it really doesn’t make much sense if you’re new to the series. An expansion pack can sometimes function as a kind of epilogue to the original title. Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate, unfortunately, feel more like badly directed sequels. Since very little else has been changed since the original, F.E.A.R. Files seems like the kind of game someone should only buy if they didn’t get their fill from F.E.A.R.. Even then, it’s difficult to see how a bunch of new levels could warrant the $89.85 price tag.
Fans of the horror / first-person shooter genre shouldn’t expect anything new. Thankfully though, the action in F.E.A.R. Files hasn’t quite gotten old either.