F.E.A.R Files Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

The original F.E.A.R delivered tremendously executed shootouts that were both stylish and messy, but the level design appeared to be cobbled together and was seemingly more of a showroom to show off and let the smart AI go to work. F.E.A.R Files contains both expansions, Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate, (both of which had a new developer in Timegate) but the original game is a sad omission, especially coming on the heels of the supremely generous offering of the Orange Box. Demanding, us?

Extraction Point begins directly after the end of the original game, with you riding in the helicopter that you worked so hard to get to in the previous game, only for it to be blown right out of the sky as a result of the explosion of the Origin facility that you yourself caused at the end of the last game, oops. Perseus mandate follows a second F.E.A.R team and you once again take control of a mute and faceless guy blessed with superhuman reflexes. This introduction of a second team initially feels a bit pointless, but once you realise it’s set in between the events of the original game and Extraction Point, it becomes quite satisfying seeing things play out from a different perspective and hearing of events that your good self pulled off in F.E.A.R.

Both games retain the stylish shootouts that made the original such a joy to play and shooting people in their heads in slow motion, witnessing the earth shaking effects of a grenade, being blinded by the ensuing smoke of a fired gun, it’s all as satisfying as it ever was, which is great as both expansions are more shooty centric than the first game was.

The intelligently scripted AI of your adversaries makes all of this better still. These AI Einstein’s (ok, so maybe they’re not quite as clever as that) will flank you, will change their cover points based on your position and will even, if you’re hiding behind cover, toss a grenade in. It results in enemies that can be lethal but at the same time appear to be trying to survive just as you are. Such is their living and breathing esque nature, we almost feel guilty gunning the chaps down, and sincerely hope that they don’t have a wife and kids waiting for them back at home.

Just as the good is back for these expansions, as is some bad.

We’re primarily speaking of level design here, which once again is of the copy, pasted and boring variety. Largely your environments are wider open than those of the original title, which is a nice idea, but doesn’t always allow the AI to play to its greatest strengths. You’ll be traipsing around clichéd game areas and the vast majority of Extraction Point has a setting that’s not too dissimilar to the first game. Meanwhile, Perseus Mandate mixes things up somewhat with caves and sewers, that aren’t necessarily grey for once and are a mild improvement over both F.E.A.R and Extraction Point’s level design, but are still areas that we’ve wandered around hundreds of times in hundreds of other games.

But going back to the good stuff for a second, both expansions introduce some new enemies to kill and some new weapons to shoot them with. Extraction Point features a deployable turret, a laser gun and most gratifying of all a minigun, whilst Perseus Mandate features a grenade launcher and a lighting gun. The most interesting new adversaries are debuted in Perseus Mandate. The night crawlers are highly trained mercenaries, who possess lighting fast reflexes and can be a real challenge to take down.

As the games are no more than expansions, their length – about five or six hours each – is paltry, but the instant action mode, which plonks you right into the middle of a heated shootout and tasks you with killing as many enemies as possible within an allotted time limit, does give the package some additional value, as does the online competitive modes and as you would imagine F.E.A.R’s intense action translates perfectly to the online arena, though only if you manage to pull people away from Halo 3, COD4 and Team Fortress 2 long enough to have a game, which can be a bit hard to come by at this point in time.

The two expansions contained within F.E.A.R Files may have done little to sort out the flawed level design that bogged down the first game somewhat, but the masterfully crafted action is as good as it’s ever been and sometimes just enough to make us forget of our boring surroundings, only just though.