This review is of the PC version. I haven't tried any of these for another platform, and can draw no comparisons. This is the second expansion(and yes, there's not that much to this), and this time a stand-alone, meaning you don't need a copy of the original installed in order to be able to play this. All the instruments of destruction up until now in this series are present, and this has multi-player, so you can now use the ones that came in Extraction Point against your friends. When I heard that this was following a different team(and not anyone we had seen before), I hoped it would be better than the big tease that EP was. I'm afraid I can't claim that it is. This is maybe a little longer than it, and it does have plot(though apparently neither of these are canonical, so they really are here in order to maintain a fan-base for the franchise until they came out with the actual sequel). It takes place at the same time as F.E.A.R., and technically, you don't have to know or have tried that one to get into this(if you will have numerous questions if you haven't). The ending is OK. There are three additions to the arsenal, if none of them exactly scream "awesome"; a Lightning Arc Weapon(effective, and can hit several foes if they are near one another), an Advanced Rifle(evidently granted that prestigious title on account of having a red(oooh) night-vision filter on its scope... which makes the fact that *everyone* but you who carries one already seeming to have a mask outfitted with what appears to be the same a device seem like a redundant piece of overkill) and the Grenade Launcher(one of the only types to not already be covered, and my least favorite of them all; it's boring to fight someone that has it, and it doesn't seem that useful to the player). This breaks the first-person perspective a couple of times, if none are too distracting. All are to give extra freedom to the in-engine cut-scenes that comprise most of the story-telling. You are again given Reflex Time(with those irritating red edges...! And you continue to have to stand perfectly still if you wish to turn it on or off), and since this is not the Point Man(his parents had *serious* foresight), I doubt it will ever be explained why. He has no lines, and the two characters that outrank you(I guess that was easier than doing a system where you can give them orders; meanwhile, they follow you and usually don't tell you where to go, so...) have no personality beyond bitching about their pay-check and occasional bursts of macho-ism. In a handful of places, you do battle alongside friendlies, and they tend to run smack dab into pure, leaded death. With that said, the AI is great on the whole. You meet a new enemy, the Nightstalkers, and they are pretty bad-ass. Not only is their regular voice deep, their death scream sounds exactly like Arnie's instantly recognizable yelp. There is yet another "larger than the last one" robot. Also, an apparition... you've got to see it for yourself. Very cool. Design in this is marvelous. Levels remain entirely linear. This focuses on the shoot-outs instead of the eeriness, and in spite of this being short, I frankly got bored with blowing away opposition. I suppose that does seem to be the direction they wish to take this... action-driven. There is still a well-established atmosphere, at least in sections of this(you find a lot of results of massacres), with excellent audio, and in the latter half, the mood does pay off somewhat. Until then, it's really just a jump-scare here and there. After you complete the campaign itself, there are 3 bonus missions... a meh one, a *very* fun one(aptly named Arena), and a not half bad one(vaguely reminiscent of the lobby of The Matrix). They are arcade-style ones(I'm told the PS2 copy of... one of these, has something similar), with waves of people to kill, lasting between under twenty minutes, and slightly over five or six. You *will* leave the areas with quite a lot of property damage. This fixes minor stuff(that *really* helps), like that awful cloud of dust that obstructs your vision. It does nothing about how empty firearms(if you weren't limited in the amount that you can carry, perhaps it would not matter; I do like that you are forced to choose what to keep) are merely switched away from(instead of throwing them away, so that you can pick up a different one, since they are literally completely useless once there are no more rounds in them, it's not like you can find clips, ammo is always in the rifles and such that you find). Can someone explain the point of a Last Gun key? Move the wheel up or down, and you can immediately get to either of the others. Sneaking may be useful to an extent that it wasn't before, and I think this is easier than the prior releases. The computers are used, awkwardly; and listening to phone messages is again a shadow of what it was in the game itself, and even then it was a pale and poor imitation - one could arguably go so far as to use the word "rip-off" - of the Logs of System Shock 2. Acting is good, and this doesn't have irritating comedic relief. The music is well-composed. Like the graphics, animation and effects, it's about the same as before. There are glitches and bugs, if nothing too bothersome. If you've read all the way to here and you do not know what this is about, think The Ring meets Universal Soldier. There is frequent gratuitous swearing, plenty of blood and violence, a bunch of disturbing content and a little gore in this. I recommend it to those who cannot do without another fix before getting to number 2. It was made for you. 7/10
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