Fear, Expanded:

The basic premise behind an expansion pack, like FEAR : Extraction Point, is pretty simple and one which I approve of – if you liked a game, it gives you some more of the same thing, and then adds a little bit more.

I would argue that it succeeds admirably in this.  You get a few more environments to shoot clones in, a couple more types of enemy, a couple more guns… It manages to mostly capture the feeling that the ending to the original game was just a cutscene and that these are the logical next steps.

Which, since the ending of Fear left me with a “Wait, you can’t stop there…” feeling, was very appreciated.

Of course, it sets itself up with an open-for-a-sequel ending, just because resolution is, I dunno, BAD or something, and it’s being treated as non-canon for the purposes of Fear 2 : Electric Boogaloo*, which comes out next year, so it might be best to think of it as a surprisingly good fanfic where the author ends with “I’m still working on the next part and hope to have it up soon.”

Non-canonical nature aside, I liked Extraction Point.  It doesn’t overstay its welcome – I’m not fast at these things and it still took less than 7 hours to play through – enough that it didn’t feel rushed, but not stretched out for the point of being stretched out.

It also manages to re-use most of the graphics from the original game but toss in just enough new stuff that they don’t feel recycled.  Yes, the corkboards have the same TPS reports pinned to them, and the clocks are all still stuck at 1:15, but these are pretty minor nitpicks. 🙂

Most importantly, it really improves on the messing-with-the-player’s-head aspect of the first game.  I mentioned this before so I won’t go on and on about it, but it turns the freaky up to 11.

I was a bit surprised by the strain it put on my PC.  After playing through the original game – not to mention newer games, like Bioshock – in 1920×1200 with all effects up, I did not expect to have any trouble with Extraction Point, but I was seeing really choppy graphics, less than 20fps at times.  I had to drop the resolution down to 1440×900 and lower graphics quality one notch from maximum to get to the point where the game was really playable.  Just a natural, if depressing, indication that technology marches on, I suppose.

* OK, actually “Fear 2 : Project Origin”, but I liked the sound of this better.

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