F.E.A.R. Extraction Point

Last year’s top shooter gets a little bigger with this first expansion, or at least slightly longer.

For any top-selling PC shooter, the expansion pack is an inevitable release. The idea of building new levels from an existing (and proven) engine and storyline is too good to pass up. So, slightly more than a year since the release of the massively entertaining .

F.E.A.R. comes the first expansion: the brief but action-saturated Extraction Point. Rather than expanding the storyline or offering an alternative point of view (a la Half-Life: Opposing Force) Extraction Point goes for the straight line, providing roughly six hours of additional combat and exploration. You’ll begin moments after the end of F.E.A.R., with the helicopter meant to ferry your team to safety crashing back down into the city. From there it’s a simple dash from one point to another, the goal always being to reach a viable extraction point. The limited play time of Extraction Point doesn’t grate — few shooter expansions are truly expansive — but the narrow focus does. There’s little of the sense of unease that was originally present in spades. It’s easy to feel you’ve seen all the tricks that might be in store, and while there are some new supernatural entities, most of the time you’ll be shooting it out with the same Replicant forces that bedeviled us all the first time around.

More frustrating is the homogeny of the environment. Because you’re back in the same city that provided the original setting, very little looks different. You’re not in the same old corridors the whole time (small favors!) but there’s still an undeniable sense that Monolith’s excellent engine is in urban blight overdrive.

F.E.A.R. already bore a too-heavy resemblance to Monolith’s other recent title,  Condemned, making this three games in a row that look just alike. (To be fair, Extraction Point was developed by TimeGate Studios, but you get the point — Monolith’s stamp is all over this expansion, for obvious reasons.)

But maybe none of those issues sound too bad at all, and indeed if you loved the original for the sheer density of the firefights and ability to use slo-mo powers to deliver more lead per second than in any other game, this extra set of missions could do just the trick. There are a couple of new weapons and enemies, but for the most part you’ll be facing the same foes, using basically the same tactics.

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