Halloween is a fitting enough time to release F.E.A.R. Extraction Point, the expansion to last year's creepy first-person shooter. Like its predecessor, Extraction Point puts you in the boots of the "point man" of the military's First Encounter Assault Recon team. Think of it as the Pentagon's equivalent to The X-Files, only with really big guns. In F.E.A.R. you battled an army of cloned supersoldiers, their crazed leader, Paxton Fettel, and Alma, a little girl straight out of Japanese horror movies such as The Ring. It all made for an intense psychological experience, even while you were caught up in some of the best virtual firefights ever seen on the PC.
Extraction Point once again dumps you in the middle of a deserted American city, where you have to battle an army of clones while dealing with the paranormal.
Extraction Point offers up a lot more of the same, though there's not anything particularly wrong with that if the action is as good as it is here. The plot could be described as a five-hour epilogue to the campaign in F.E.A.R. You begin amid the wreckage of the Black Hawk helicopter that was ferrying you to safety. From that point, you must fight to get to the extraction point, where yet another helicopter will ferry you to safety. There's no grandiose story to save the world or anything like that, which is a refreshing change for a shooter.
Getting to the chopper is going to require a lot more of the run-and-gun that you experienced in F.E.A.R., as you once again have to battle the army of replicants that dogged you throughout the original game. Apparently Fettel now has Alma-like powers, which means that his corporeal spirit still remains, even though he clearly died during F.E.A.R. This also means that, for the most part, there's not a lot of new stuff here. You're once again battling the same kinds of foes with mostly the same types of weapons in lots of dark and deserted levels. Extraction Point introduces a subway level and some new office interiors, but for the most part one empty corridor looks just like another. There are also a few new weapons you can play with, like the bullet-spitting chaingun and deployable gun sentries that you can stick on walls and floors, but for the most part you'll rely on the trusty assault rifle, submachine gun, and shotgun that got you this far in the first place.
Thankfully, the killer gunplay and advanced artificial intelligence featured in F.E.A.R. remain completely intact in Extraction Point. Firefights are a lot more memorable in this game than they are in most first-person shooters because they're incredibly visceral. Bullets fly, objects are knocked over, showers of sparks erupt everywhere, choking clouds of gun smoke fill the air, and bodies slump everywhere. The replicants that you battle are incredibly smart and tough for computer-controlled bad guys, as they're constantly maneuvering to try to get a better advantage on you. In fact, some of the battles would be darn near impossible if not for your character's enhanced reflexes that let you kick in bullet time for short bursts at a time. Aside from the familiar replicants, you'll also encounter a few other types of foes, including the armored walking tank and the invisible assassins that you met in the original game, as well as a strange, seminvisible spirit reminiscent of the figure in Edvard Munsch's painting, The Scream.