is pretty much identical to F.E.A.R.
. That’s both good and bad.
For the good, it means that the game still handles quite fluidly and has an immediate drop-in-and-play feel to it. You can just run around shooting things, dodging grenade, blowing up an awful lot of the environment and sending ragdolls spinning through the air like a dreidel in zero gravity. It’s simple, accessible and great for blowing off steam.
Unfortunately, the gameplay has also inherited a fair few flaws from the first game, mainly because the engine clearly hasn’t been updated much since F.E.A.R.
was first released.
The environments are still enormously repetitive and, while Timegate (who have taken over development duties from Monolith for both F.E.A.R.
expansion packs) have tried to include some street battles and open areas to balance out the tunnels, warehouses and offices from the original it’s an effort that’s made in vain.
Click to enlarge
A large portion of the game is still spent running through subways, sewers and warehouses. Even when you aren’t in familiar areas, the game still suffers from re-using the same palette of textures over and again, as well as repetitive level design in terms of layout and pacing. It’s nearly always just a case of running forward past a set of caretakers’ shelves inexplicably stocked with grenades and medkits, just to reach the next arena battle.
There’s nothing really wrong with that format in theory and it’s worked quite well for games like Serious Sam
, which remains a firm office favourite for co-op matches, but Perseus Mandate
suffers because it’s all to grey and predictable. Soldiers can’t creep up on you because their radios are forever rupturing the tense silence with static and the music, while better than most, is ruined by the clash of the near-silent but un-eerie ambient.
That doesn’t mean that game won’t make you jump – I visibly jerked out of my seat more than once, but the game is no longer actually scary. There’s no sense of fear when your HUD flickers as you enter a room, desensitised, the only thought that runs through your head is ‘Oh. Ghost bit.’ Then you plough on, jump at the ghost when it does appear and move quickly on, unfazed.
There is some new content though, which does help to keep things a little bit interesting. There’s three new weapons to use, though none are anything ground breaking and consist of a grenade launcher, advanced night-vision rifle and a rather out-of-place lightning gun.
Click to enlarge
The best one of these is the grenade launcher, which is excellent for taking out crowds and can be used in conjunction with slow-mo to detonate a bomb in mid-air, if your aim is good enough. However, it’s also a little bit over-powered and lays waste to most enemies without breaking sweat.
You have to be careful with the grenade launcher though; there were a few points where I rather embarassingly killed myself by bouncing a grenade on to my own head. I’ve not seen Richard laugh hard since he first discovered boobs
There’s also some new enemies, though most of them are only new models of old enemies – a new ATC guard and a new model of Alma. The only really real baddies are the Nightcrawlers, super-powered and super-tough mercenaries with high-tech weaponry who make for the most semi-interesting opponents that the game can apparently muster.
For replayability there’s also three bonus missions which become available when the singleplayer campaign is finished, but adding in some plot-less fragfests isn’t really a must-have feature for me – I’d just download some Half-Life 2
maps if that’s what I was after.