F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate review
Perseus Mandate or the weakest link in FEAR
FEAR stands for First Encounter Assault Recon, a special unit, mostly used when paranormal is manifesting. In the original game, you were the Pointman, a new member of the agency, and you were sent to capture Paxton Fettel, a man with psychic abilities, property of Armacham Technologies. In the end, you discovered that a girl was used to produce two prototypes (Paxton being the younger), that she was the lead scientist's daughter and that she was seeking revenge for what they've done to her (as she woke up during the first childbirth). But the most important is that you were the first prototype, the baby she wanted back, the one who initiated her hate towards humanity.
Monolith then began working on FEAR 2. I don't know the why or the how, but the editor had the license on the name and gives another studio the development of an add-on. It was good for Monolith but it wasn't what they wanted as "sequel". Indeed, FEAR Extraction Point take places directly after FEAR, like FEAR 2. No need to wait for a few years after like in Half-Life. In this add-on, you were still the Pointman, still with your psychic abilities (resumed as time slowing) and you survived the crash of your helicopter, along with Jun, your female coworker, and Billy, your Delta buddy. Paxton Fettel gets resurrected by Old Alma (the hating form from her death) and wakes up the Replicas Army, the same one he was leading in FEAR. In the end, you manage to council the two aspects of Alma (the younger, who was protecting you, and the older, who was trying to kill you) and to clean the disturbance, at the cost of your friends though. Unfortunately for you, your little brother, Paxton, crashed your rescue helicopter. You're left on a roof, watching the city burn.
And then, as FEAR was having success, came Perseus Mandate, Mission Perseus for the Germans. Exit the Pointman, you're now a member of FEAR but in another team. Along with your captain and your lieutenant, you're sent during the middle of the original storyline to retrieve information about Armacham. What happens? Well, you're visiting Armacham facilities, you're having visions thanks to Alma and most important, you're stuck in the city because of the explosion of Origin facility. Not only the result is dramatic because now, you're in the disturbance and the enemies going with it but you have to confront a new enemy, the Nightcrawlers, interested in Fettel and Alma's DNA's.
As you can see, if the storyline involved the Pointman, it would have been interesting. But it's not possible, as the original hero is unfortunately taken elsewhere...
FEAR Perseus Mandate is the stand-alone add-on for FEAR, the last one before the arrival of FEAR 2 Project Origin, with more Alma... and again a new hero. Perhaps that if he's possessing the time slowing feature, it will be explained. Because for our sergeant of PM, it's not.
So, we'll begin by a critic of the storyline.
You already know that I missed the Pointman and his shadows. Don't forget that he's the eldest of Alma's sons, that his grandfather was the responsible for the situation and that his aunt (apparently of the same age as him) was killed by lil'bro Paxton.
In PM storyline, however, if trying to extract Fettel and Alma's DNA's is a fact that could happen in FEAR universe, the rest isn't. Yes, being caught in the disturbance of Extraction Point, is normal. But no, it's not normal that the hero has the same abilities as the Pointman without explanation as the time slowing feature was coming from his psychic abilities and the fact that he was Alma's son. Here, our sergeant is just a normal guy but manages to act like the newest recruit (and well, don't forget that the FEAR leader was impressed by it). It's a plothole. And it's not really something I want to see in a complex universe like FEAR.
Also take the Nightcrawlers. They're here for a reason: the DNA. Why? Perhaps for making an army. For who? It's not determined. And well, what will become of Alma's DNA, as you finally recuperate it at the end?
The gameplay is similar to the previous game: it's a FPS. Load, lock and shoot. Even if sometimes, you'll have to duck or to run away. For killing enemies, you'll have all the weapons from FEAR and EP. So, basically, you'll find rocket launchers, heavy minigun, the laser-7 useful for sniping, the basic sniper rifle, the grenades, the landmines, the laser gun, etc.. But PM is a FEAR game. That means that you can't carry more than three weapons with you unless you're cheating. And that was already something I dislike. If you want to use another weapon than your three currently in your inventory, you'll have to drop one of them for taking the new one. So, you have to make some choices and you never know if it's right or not. It adds to the realistic part of the game but someone like me who is used to have all the weapons will be disoriented. Indeed, when you love more than three weapons, it's always painful to say goodbye to your favorites. You find the weapons on your enemies, so, it's not a problem for finding them.
As I've said, our new hero possess the same abilities as our Pointman: the time slowing. Use it for slowing your enemies while you're still at the same speed. It's very useful when you're fighting against the EVE robots or a bunch of soldiers.
Speaking of the enemies, I've already spoken about the newest addition but well, you need to know also that they're very hard to beat, very fast and use different things like grenades for beating you. With that, I can speak about the AI.
It hasn't changed: enemy AI is very good. They can duck, take cover or try to ambush you in order to kill you. Yes, everyone know that at the end, you'll be victorious (I hope) but having played games where the enemies do not see you even when you're in their eyesight or enemies running at you, making their death an easier task, I can assure you that FEAR can give some hard work to the hero.
As for the friendly AI... Well, they're doing also their best by taking cover... but it's scripted. I always saw my coworkers in the same place. So, no real friendly AI, here.
Your path is very linear but in the end, you forget about it. Well, not really. Because the trip in the last Armacham facility as well the run in the mines is awful. It seems long for me. Mostly because I was beginning to wish to exit these locations for two reasons: I didn't want to have anymore strange things and I was really looking to see the end. Impatience yes but getting in the same environment, as it was the case for the passage in Armacham offices in FEAR, is also annoying.
For once, I didn't feel that characters who were present were essential to the FEAR universe. They're transparent: no Jankosky for guiding you, no Jun as familiar face, no Paxton for giving clues. Only Alma is present but not in the same amount as in the other games. After all, our sergeant isn't her son, so, why care?
Graphics are also very good. It's still the same engine, so, I don't have to complain about it: the lights and shadow effects were efficient to scare me in the mine, the weapons are still well-modelised (but you'll tell me that it was only a reuse of things already developed) and the characters were different enough to make a difference between the basic enemies and the key characters. My only regret is that color dominating the mine (orange/red/brun) and the strange red colour in the first level of the last facility. It was enough for me to wish to have never entered these levels. So, as you can see, the ambiance that they wanted to develop is really at the rendez-vous. I have also an earlier complaint about Alma's creepy body when she's appearing like a young woman. I hate it. But after all, that's the Alma who died alone in her jail...
As for the soundtrack, well, as it's still from FEAR and FEAR EP, well, it's like for HL BlueShift, it's sufficient for keeping you in the ambiance but not enough for a new release. I mean, including some new tracks is a plus for the game, see HL Opposing Force and its military track (justified by the fact that you were playing a Marine in the game).
If there is any replayability, it's for getting all the extra boosts for HP and the time slowing. Because for the story, it's not worth it. Also, as the last levels seemed long, it's not really a good choice to play it again. Or be like me and replay it long after, perhaps you'll find something you've never see before... For the lifetime, it can take hours to complete it if you're not cheating. If you're cheating, it will still take hours but with all the weapons and being in GOD mode, well, it will be more easier to fight Replicas, ATC guards, Nightcrawlers, Nightmares, etc..
GAMEPLAY: 8/10 - I hate the three weapons only. I love having all my arsenal. Strangly enough, it's not bothering me for Call of Duty or a Medal of Honor Pacific Assault. Perhaps because you don't have to really choose between a shotgun, a sniper rifle, a minigun or a special laser gun. The weapons seemed all the same and so, you can switch easily between them. Here, well, it's frustrating.
GRAPHICS: 8.5/10 - I love FEAR engine. But why am I giving a lower note than for FEAR? Ask the last levels. Anyway, what FEAR excels in is the light/shadow effet and I would have been sad if it wasn't the case.
STORY: 5/10 - Ouch. Going from perfect notes to the half. What happened? Well, the fact that it's not the Pointman but another being that has the same abilities as him counted. And also the fact that this secondary team didn't bring huge twists to the universe.
SOUNDTRACK: 9/10 - I must be honest, the soundtrack is still good but a little novelty isn't hurting, right?
LIFETIME: 6/10 - Yes, it's a long game, yes it can be boring sometimes and yes, there are still different levels of difficulty. Mix that and you'll find yourself not wanting to play it unless you want to write a review or a walkthrough or to find all the bonuses. If you loved the game so much, well, change all the ratings.
BOTTOM LINE: 6/10 - Plain and simple: play it only if you're curious to see what Monolith is ignoring for FEAR 2. If I'm not glad that they're also ignoring Extraction Point, with my favorite psychology storyline, I'm happy to see that Perseus Mandate will not be taken in count. Lousy storyline and not real novelty except for one enemy is killing this stand-alone, despite graphics, soundtrack and a very good AI. I wanted my Pointman, my Alma and their complicated ties, I was expecting a plot twist like the new hero being a clone or something like that. Nope. Only the new chief of Nightcrawler bringing Fettel's DNA to a unknown man in suit. Bang. End of the game. End of the FEAR alternate universe. And final words: if you're looking for a good FEAR sequel, play Extraction Point till FEAR 2 is coming.
About the author