F.E.A.R. Files Review (Xbox360)

Two whole years have passed since I managed to get the pleasure of playing F.E.A.R for the Xbox 360; a console which was in its infancy stages and a game which I for one did not know much about.  And it surprised me by being a superb shooter with a fantastic control system and some of the best enemy A.I I have experienced and yet to see any game better today.

He thinks he is some acrobatic soldier You can cause some quite nasty explosions

F.E.A.R Files is not a sequel however, it instead combines the expansion packs released for the PC, one of which was released a year ago called Extraction Point and the brand new Perseus Mandate expansion.

The problem is F.E.A.R Files is more of the same and yes the original game was particularly good, but you can’t help feel it’s more of the ‘been there done that’ tried and tested formula. The original game was fairly linear and did get slightly tedious at times but this was combated by having impressive graphics and the unique ‘Slow-Mo’ button which you press to slow game play down and assist you in those intense battles.

With Extraction Point in particular the game feels more linear than ever; you’re constantly walking round narrow corridors or crouching in underground pipes before coming across a few Replica soldiers to gun down. Repetition factor kicks in which is never a good thing and when you compare it to recent releases such as Halo 3, Files lacks in variety.

That said if you like a good tough FPS to dig your hands into then Files is perfect for you. Health kits are your friend and Health Boosters even more so (of which you’ll find dotted around levels and increase your meter). When the Replica soldiers fire, they don’t stop gunning you down until your lying in your own pool of blood. It is crucially important to stock up on health packs and top it up during those fights because you’ll be dead before you know it.

God wouldn’t approve One way windows, genius

Part of this is down to the superb enemy A.I of which I mentioned earlier. Although the enemies don’t have as much space to manevour as in the standalone game, they still deploy those sneaky tactics of jumping over crates, hiding behind desks and rolling around to sneak up behind you. You’ll be cracked round the back of the head and be on the floor, not realising why and how at times.

But for every difficult battle you encounter you’ll be walking round deserted buildings for ages without anything to do and this gets tedious. I liken it to Condemned in a way, it has that creepy edge about it and musically it enhances this too.

On the surface the graphics look respectable and it is impressive how you can shoot the surroundings and damage will occur. Shooting the fire extinguishers is particularly great and can be crucial in those larger battles to sort out some of those enemies. However looking under the surface this looks like an early 360 title and not one two years into the consoles life. I hate to compare games especially when they are so different, but even Halo 3 manages to look more impressive than F.E.A.R Files and the former title is not even that graphically great compared to other releases this year.

That said this is two different expansion packs from two different years and Perseus Mandate manages to improve upon Extraction Point slightly. The story runs in parallel to F.E.A.R and Extraction Point and you face the same sort of ATC mercenaries who are also trying to exterminate the Replicant.

Throw in some additional weapons such as the Advanced Rifle which allows you to shoot enemies through a scope and one which adds additional light into this dark natured FPS; particularly handy, and you’ve got a bit more variety to spice this expansion up a bit. In particular the levels are more open-ended than Extraction Point, but you’ll still be trudging through the inevitable office block, sewers and a car park. All pretty much typical F.E.A.R surroundings.

Achievement points are much more generous this time around and centre on the use of weapons and completing the solo mode. Those of you who tackle the Extreme mode will also benefit from some additional gamer score (although you’d be mad to attempt it!).

And let us not forget the Instant Action maps which allow you to plough through enemy waves and test your skill to the maximum. Throw in the online multiplayer for 16 people with new maps and you’ve got a nice tidy package. It is ashame however that on the back of this you’ll be charged full whack for the game when you’d expect a bit of discount being an expansion pack.

Flying dead people, whatever next?

In conclusion F.E.A.R Files offers FPS fans a quick burst of activity before the next triple A title arrives and if you’ve played the original you’ll certainly like this. Extraction Pont may be a weak addition, but Perseus Mandate is certainly worth a look at and we look forward to seeing what the developers can offer in a proper sequel.

Top Game Moment:
Discovering Slow-Mo is actually extremely useful in intense gunfights and not dying through using it!