I'm pretty much a F.E.A.R. fanboy and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I've played through the first game numerous times on both PC and Xbox 360, clocked the Extraction Point expansion and sing the series' praises to anyone who'll listen. It's no wonder that the forthcoming expansion pack Perseus Mandate is high on my most wanted list, and F.E.A.R. fans should get exactly what they're after.
For those wondering where this expansion fits into the F.E.A.R. storyline, it runs concurrently with the first game and expansion. You play a member of a brand new unit and fight alongside team-mates in the fight against the deadly enemy that has been causing problems in the previous two games. Fan favourites return, which makes sense given that the time-frame is the same, but you will see a few new faces while running around the dimly lit factories, tunnels and similar.
Joining the Replicas, ATCs and Ninjas are the Night Crawlers. These guys take the best from the other soldier classes, making them fast, strong and deadly. New enemies also mean new weapons, such as the needle grenade launcher and the chained lightning gun. Of course, if you kill one of these guys you can run over and take their weapons, giving you some new toys to play with.
The Games Convention demo was short, but showed typical F.E.A.R. style and combat. As ever, the game only really comes alive when you're firing a weapon, and the slow-motion time control is still among the best around. The effect might be years old now, but few other games have nailed the feeling of slowing time so it seems natural. Blood too is once again a huge part of the game, with it flowing freely out of enemies and spread over most surfaces.
Sadly the game engine is starting to show its age. We are promised more than industrial locations, but a new game on a new engine will hopefully come sooner rather than later. It's by no means an ugly looking game, but it lacks the detail seen in the high profile shooters out now and in the near future. A few improvements have been made, allowing more enemies to be seen on-screen, but don't expect anything hugely different to what you've seen before.
As an expansion Perseus Mandate won't last quite as long as a full title, but the game is said to be approximately 6-8 hours long - maybe a little less if you're a hardcore F.E.A.R. fan. This length is unlikely to be an issue on the Xbox 360 version of the game (titled F.E.A.R. Files), which also includes the Extraction Point expansion. Multiplayer will be included in both the PC and 360 titles, although the 360 game will feature a mixture of maps from each expansion.
If you, like me, simply want more of the intense FPS action that F.E.A.R. delivers in spades, then Perseus Mandate and F.E.A.R. files will scratch that itch. Look for more on the two games in the coming months.