Last Level Press

Nutshell Review: F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate

Reviewer: Cliff Davenport

The ending of F.E.A.R. Extraction Point left a lot of questions unanswered, as I mentioned in my previous review, so I was rather hopeful when I heard that F.E.A.R. would support one last expansion pack, Perseus Mandate.  So many things were left unsaid, unexplored, and ominously unseen.  What will become of Alma, and the world, now that she’s fully freed from both her physical prison and her warring psyches?  What role will the Point Man play in the coming days of “fire sweeping over the earth, bodies in the streets, cities turned to dust?”  What “retaliation,” or better yet, whose, was Paxton Fettel referring to?  

Who knows?! I certainly don’t, because Perseus Mandate addresses exactly none of those questions, instead focusing its story upon another F.E.A.R. team entirely, whose mission starts mid-way through the events of the first game, and ends roughly around the same time as Extraction Point.  Players take on the role of a nameless F.E.A.R. sergeant, and are sent to investigate an alternate Armacham facility than those that the Point Man is making a paranormal mess of.  Predictably, all is not well, and another force of enemies, a black-budget mercenary faction hired by an ass-covering senator, are crawling all over the place, taking a generally lethal disliking to anyone not sporting glowing red goggles.  

“Tactically sound stealth equipment, I can assure you.”

Gameplay in Perseus Mandate is about what you’d expect from an expansion to a pre-existing game; F.E.A.R.’s standout combat is back in full dress, sporting a small handful of additional gameplay goodies.  A.I. now comes in two flavors, friend or foe, as players actually get to fight alongside their squadmates for a fair portion of the game.  Multiplayer also enjoys a few additions, such as a handful of skins and weapons, but is otherwise identical to what’s come before.  However, at the time of Perseus Mandate’s release, this combat system, as good as it is, is starting to feel dated.  Its graphics haven’t seen any updates, its bullet-time functions haven’t seen any innovations, and the environments got repetitive in the last expansion.  All of this could be forgiven if Perseus Mandate were like most client-dependent expansions, but it’s not.  As a stand-alone expansion, it’s more or less its own game, and as such, it lags painfully behind its contemporary peers by the time of its release.  

“HEY GUYS!  Sorry we’re late! What’d we miss? Everything?!  

Quick, let’s just make something up, then! ”

That said, the mild disappointment inherent to Perseus Mandate’s gameplay is entirely dismissible next to that of its narrative, which just barely manages to hang onto a singular thread of sense.  Confusing mechanics with lore, the nameless Sergeant, for some unexplained reason, also possesses the same slow-mo reflexes as the Point Man, as do several of the elite enemy mercs.  Most dire of all, F.E.A.R.’s nigh-titular horror elements have been neutered to the point of negligibility throughout the vast majority of the game (only further hammering home the aging combat system’s limitations), and every encounter with both Alma and Fettel feel arbitrary and forced, since neither of them have any reason to take personal notice of the player character or his team.  

“Wait, I was in this game?”

They’re third wheels, and it never feels as though their actions are important; rather, they’re just observing and over-hearing the things that are.  Even the ending of Perseus Mandate is a slap in the face to fans, as Timegate Studios opted to go for an answerless, cliff-hanger ending…even though, by the time Perseus Mandate was previewed, Monolith had already re-acquired the F.E.A.R. license, and was in fact already in mid-development of F.E.A.R. 2   Think about that for a second.  That means that there was no possible way for Timegate to produce another expansion or sequel to F.E.A.R. after Perseus Mandate, and yet they sequel-dropped anyway.  That.  Is not.  Good. Writing.

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m not a fan of F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate.  It’s contrived, it’s nonsensical, and it just doesn’t feel like a F.E.A.R. game.  Taken in a vacuum, it’s not a half-bad FPS title, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  It exists as an extension of a larger series, and is meant to be played as a direct extension to its parent game.  Therefore, I want to make it clear that while Perseus Mandate will be rated and scored relative to those other titles, this is not our common policy.  I simply cannot recommend Perseus Mandate to any but the most rabid of F.E.A.R. or FPS fans, and that hurts to say, since I fall into both of those categories.    

Rating: 4.4

Visuals: 5

Audio: 5

Controls & Mechanics: 5

Atmosphere & Experience: 3

Entertainment Value: 4

  Consoles: (PC), Xbox 360

  Developer: Timegate Studios

  Publisher: Vivendi Universal

  Release Date (U.S.):  Nov 6, 2007

  Release Date (U.K.):  Nov 16, 2007

  Release Date (JP):  N/A

Final Verdict:


Last Level Press © Copyright Cliff Davenport  Est. 2013.  Links | Legal Notices

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