The original F.E.A.R has been praised as one of the scariest games ever created, thanks to its superb style of atmospheric horror. F.E.A.R Files continues this unique style in the form of the two expansions that PC gamers had the opportunity to enjoy long before they graced the Xbox 360. Whilst you can expect as much from F.E.A.R Files, you will be left confused if you have not previously played the original. Unfortunately the game does not explain much of the back story, and being as confusing as it was, you will likely be left questioning the storyline dialogue. However, if you are more than happy to simply follow the objectives and forget about the story, you will easily find your way thanks to the extensively linear level design.
In a nut shell, F.E.A.R placed you in the hands of a godlike superhuman that will possess a large arsenal of weaponry to obliterate endless identical (yet impressively smart) enemies, whilst having the ability to slow down time (much like Max Payne). As one can imagine this simple concept creates a fantastic platform for endless entertainment, especially when combined with weapons such as nail guns (Ed – Can you nail a man in a star shape to the wall?) or the trusty point blank shotgun.
Whilst the concept of gameplay alone may sound fantastic, this is only a tiny portion of the reason F.E.A.R was titled as fantastic. The gameplay would be dull if placed into the typical first-person environment; however, F.E.A.R takes places in one of the scariest environments in games. This is part due to the dark and eerie atmosphere of the city Auburn and more importantly due to the strange occurrences that take place around every corner. Lights that flicker, ghostly faces that appear for a split second, blood covered walls, enemies that literally leap out of the darkness and a small defenceless little girl that can kill anything with her mind alone, who often steals you into her subconscious. Sounds like a typical B rated horror movie? This is F.E.A.R.
The first expansion, Extraction Point, takes place in the similar settings of the city Auburn as you given the simple objective of reaching the extraction point, only to have thousands of enemy clones stood in your wake. Extraction Point continues the tread of the original F.E.A.R with more of the same. Whilst the game has some fantastic moments and can provide action packed atmospheric gun battles, these are few and far between. The games segments are about as subtle as a rhino, as you will see the jarringly obvious indications that you are either about to walk into an eerie episode (obviously ruining the attempt of being scary) or into a room packed with enemies, that just happen to know your position.
Secondly, Perseus Mandate, places you in the role of a new character that just happens to have the exact same abilities, works in a similar field and carries the majority of the same guns. Whilst this new expansion offers fresh features such as new enemies and AI controlled team mates, the overall quality is a long shot off the original. The environments that have not been rehashed from the previous games are often extremely dull and bland, painting a rather timid picture in the wake of a horror action first person shooter.
The enemy AI in F.E.A.R Files is truly fantastic, continuing the quality set by the original, often having enemies climbing over obstacles, ducking for cover, making good use of grenades and rarely running straight into certain death. However, the aspect of stealth has been replaced by predetermined choices for most encounters, leaving you either spotted as you silently walk yards behind an enemy or completely invisible if you are walking directly in front of one. The enemies seem to be playing Russian roulette with their lives, deciding when you can and cannot initiate combat.
Unfortunately it is clear that the graphics engine is now dated as everything from environments to player models do not quite cut the grade in comparison to other current Xbox 360 titles. Whilst this may not be such an important factor for most games, one of the main enjoyment aspects of F.E.A.R Files comes in the form of shock style combat and scenes designed to scare. These do not have the same effect as intended due to the poor engine used to render them, which is a great shame.
Other than the two main storylines you can also partake in, there is also an “Instant Action” mode, pitting yourself in a time trailed style race against countless enemies on a map of your choosing. This mode is a welcome addition, adding value to the overall package; unfortunately the same cannot be said about the second additional mode—online play. It is clear that not a lot of effort has been placed in the online portion of F.E.A.R Files, which is noticeable before even participating in a match, as you will be hard to find a game over Xbox Live. Once in the game you will quickly notice that whilst the typical online shooter features are there (power ups, weapons placement and selectable maps) the overall speed of gameplay is far faster than the single player counterpart and slow motion reflex abilities come in the form of rare power ups. Simply put, it is difficult to see the F.E.A.R in the online portion of F.E.A.R Files.
Overall F.E.A.R Files will likely appeal to fans of the original, which will see the clear degrade in quality from the original. Anyone who has yet to experience the original should certainly start there, as they will be confused as to what is going on otherwise.