F.E.A.R. - Extraction Point review

  • Having gun-sex
  • Soiling your pantaloons in terror
  • Mini-gun lunacy
  • Needing an expensive PC
  • The limited replay value
  • The lack of original locales

To those unfamiliar with the first-person shooter F.E.A.R., the atmosphere may be unsettlingly supernatural and spooky, but the combat is akin to gun-humping the world. You’ve got a sleek, voluptuous arsenal of maniacal phallic tools, erupting into the night. As your bullets mercilessly pound enemy-flesh, severing torsos, heads, arms and legs, the stray shells wreak equal demolition to your surroundings, crafting a visual symphony. Chunks of plaster, multicolored sparks, glass shards, smoke clouds, clumps of flesh, and blood showers explode at once into a fray of coordinated violence so visceral it seems the developers were trying to translate sex to firearms.

Or maybe we just have sex on the brain. At any rate, the game packed some serious artillery, and Extraction Point endows this carnage-waltz with three new weapons, a few new foes, and a fresh eight-hour single-player campaign. But mostly you’ll run through similar barely-lit urban backdrops, battling many of the same breeds of cybernetic soldier you have before. So while those hoping for radical reform may be disappointed, this is still a worthwhile expedition - the atmosphere is still frighteningly tense and surreal, and the enemy AI is still fierce and smart, making gun-battles unparalleled with cinematic fervor.

For the vampiric landscapers out there, you can create lovely fountains of blood with the expansion's standout weapon: the mini-gun. This circular contraption of spinning barrels continuously spits hundreds of rounds without reloading, enabling you to charge into the middle of a large ring of opponents and shred them down. Switch off between the mini-gun and the bazooka that sends three missiles at a time, and you’ll embark on God-like therapeutic rampages.

It’s unfortunate that you don’t acquire this exotic beast until late in the game, and you don’t have enough ammo to use it as frequently as you want. The standard artillery is still satisfying, especially when used with the slow motion ability that lets you witness bullet trails and blood spurts in sustained, focused beauty. But there's a precedent for this: the use of unique weaponry was limited in the original F.E.A.R. as well, and it’s disheartening to see this again in the expansion pack.

The pace seems a little more balanced than daddy F.E.A.R. - those periods of crawling through empty, claustrophobic areas are punctuated a little more with warfare climaxes. And this doesn't detract from the dread-building. It’s still always night, and oftentimes you’ll find yourself standing silent in the dark, waiting for your flashlight‘s battery to charge.

Things scurry quickly in and out of your vision, disturbing imagery periodically flashes across your screen, and you’ll sometimes open a door or turn a corner and walk into what looks like Hell or purgatory. Though once you’ve experienced it, the long walks through abandoned hallways lose their luster because you know what’s going to happen.

There’s also some blending of skirmish and horror. For example, there’s a battle with shape-shifting red-eyed demons (one of the new enemies) that takes place beneath a disorienting stuttering light. You’ll be shooting at your own shadow and spinning around nervously trying to find the bastards.

Although this is essentially more of the same with a couple new elements, it’s executed well. The photorealistic graphics, edgy atmosphere, and riotous gunplay mix masterfully to create phantasmagoric art. After a long session alone at night with the lights off, you might have to walk slowly and carefully around the house, turning on lights and checking behind the shower curtain.

More Info

Release date: Oct 24 2006 - PC (US)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Shooter
Developed by: Monolith Productions, Timegate Studios
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language


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