F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate PC DVD
Published by: Sierra
Developed by: TimeGate Studios
Release Date: Out Now
F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate is the second expansion for F.E.A.R., the popular paranormal flavoured horror FPS. It's also a standalone expansion meaning that you don't have to own a copy of the original game to enjoy it. However, it's debatable as to whether this is a good place to start if you haven't played the original game and the game certainly doesn't go out of its way to explain things such as the storyline so far and why you have the ability to make everyone else seemingly go in slow motion, so that you can take out an unnatural amount of enemies.
In Perseus Mandate you play as a member of a secondary First Encounter Assault Recon (F.E.A.R.) team that have been brought in to try and acquire more information about Paxton Fettle and the project at Armacham. The events in Perseus Mandate occur at the same time as the events in the latter part of the original game and those in the first expansion, which in some respects is quite interesting as you get to find out various bits and pieces that add to the original game's storyline. In terms of how the game plays however, Perseus Mandate is pretty much identical to the original game. You may be playing as a different character but the overall experience is just the same as you have exactly the same abilities as the character you controlled in the original game and first expansion.
Perseus Mandate gets off to a slow start. Traipsing through the rather dated looking sewers (that's the graphics looking dated not the design of the sewers) is actually quite tedious and short of the suspense that F.E.A.R. was known for. If it wasn't for the fact that the AI in Perseus Mandate is impressive (just like it was in F.E.A.R.), in that it uses cover really well and on the harder difficulty levels is very challenging, you would probably lose interest. The game definitely becomes far more engaging in the latter half but when you consider the game is only half a dozen hours long that does take the shine off it. In addition to the single-player game you also have some bonus missions and the game comes complete with multiplayer options.
It's been over two years since F.E.A.R. was released and Perseus Mandate, using the same graphics of course, looks really dated, especially in regards to its textures. Since F.E.A.R. was released the graphical quality of FPS games has risen significantly and whilst the character models still look quite good in Perseus Mandate, the game doesn't look that great in comparison to some games we've seen since the release of the original game. There are also some performance issues. The stuttering that occurs when you save the game is a little annoying and having to wait a while for your last save to reload if you should bite dust can be a little patience testing.
Perseus Mandate is subtitled, although the subtitles are not enabled by default. Both the cutscenes and the important in-game comments are subtitled. There are a few problems with the subtitles however. Playing the game at a screen resolution of 1280x1024, the subtitles were very small and displayed on the lower left of the screen. Personally I would have preferred the subtitles to be at least twice the size at higher resolutions and to be placed in the centre of the screen so as you don't have to take your eyes off the action to read the text. In-game communications are slightly more bothersome because whilst the subtitles are once again small and placed on the lower left of the screen, the small graphic that shows you who is contacting you is placed in the top left corner of the screen which means you don't always know who is talking to you. Tutorial information is shown in text. Occasionally the tutorial information appears too late and you will already have encountered a situation where the tutorial message would have been useful. The manual is also disappointing in that it gives you a page about the system requirements and a page concerning technical support but no real information about the game.
Those who really enjoyed F.E.A.R. will doubtlessly enjoy what Perseus Mandate has to offer. Essentially it's a good helping of more of the same. Those who were expecting this expansion to take the game in a different direction or add depth to the experience are probably going to be disappointed. Those who didn't appreciate the original F.E.A.R. certainly won't appreciate what Perseus Mandate has to offer. If you haven't played F.E.A.R. it's difficult to recommend Perseus Mandate over the original game, especially as F.E.A.R. can be bought for as little as £7.99 online (Perseus Mandate retails for £19.99). The games are worth experiencing if you're an FPS fan and the superb AI still shines through two years on. The real problem is that there have been some superb FPS games released of late and Perseus Mandate is tough to recommend to all but the most devoted fans of the original game.