With the eminent release of F.E.A.R. on Xbox 360 and the recent release of Extraction Point, the expansion pack to F.E.A.R. on PC, CCC dialed the developers for a few quick questions. Producers Tim Hall on Extraction Point and Rob Loftus on the console versions answered the call.
Us: First, the obvious question. What new features will we see in the upcoming re-release to Xbox 360 and PS3? What will the differences between the two games be, if any?
Them: We added a new mission, new multiplayer maps, new weapons and a new game mode called Instant Action. The new mission elaborates on the original F.E.A.R. storyline and lets player actually take on the role of a different character. The new game mode puts the player in various situations with the F.E.A.R. AI, scores their progress and allows them to upload that progress to online Leaderboards. We’ll all be able to see who the best F.E.A.R. player is worldwide.
Us: Can you give our readers that may not be familiar with the PC title a quick backstory of F.E.A.R.? What is with all the paranormal stuff going on and how does it tie into the game directly?
Them: F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is about fast paced close quarters battles set in an atmospheric, paranormal setting. You are an elite soldier trained to deal with the unimaginable. The premise is this: a mysterious paramilitary force infiltrates a multi-billion dollar aerospace compound, taking hostages but issuing no demands. The government sends in a special ops team, but they are obliterated within moments of a strange and eerie signal interrupting radio communication. In light of this, you as part of the F.E.A.R team, are trained to deal exclusively with this type of situation. Your mission is to eliminate the intruders and get to the source of the mysterious radio signal, and contain the crisis.
As for how it all ties in, you’ll just have to delve into the world of F.E.A.R. with the original and Extraction Point to get to the bottom of it all….
Us: How hard was it to develop an enemy A.I. system that would constantly challenge the player who has so many weapons and powers at their disposal? How important is it that this aspect is tuned correctly to keep players engaged?
Them: It’s of extreme importance. Monolith not only wanted the player to feel as if they were a special forces soldier; they wanted the player to feel as if they were playing against special forces soldiers. When you think about the kernel of an FPS game, the AI occupy the vast majority of the player’s time. They must look and feel intelligent and be satisfying to defeat. This was an ongoing concern of the team and was an iterative process that was tuned to the end.
Us: How exactly does the multiplayer incorporate the Slo-motion capabilities of the F.E.A.R. soldiers? Can you describe this mechanic in detail?
Them: We let players use Slo-Mo in multiplayer if the have the Slo-Mo pickup. Once they have the pickup, they actually have let the device charge before they will be able to use it. The trick is, once they pick it up, the other players know exactly where they are on the map – making them the most hunter player in the game. If the player can stay out of trouble long enough, they can actually turn slo-mo on, and turn the tables on everyone. It’s great to be chased down while the device is charging only to hit Slo-Mo and wreak shop once the device is charged.
Us: There is word that dual pistols will be available in the console version. What are some other new weapons for the console release? How have you tweaked the new and the current weapons for balance?
Them: Yes, we will be adding the SM15 Dual Machine pistols to the 360 games. For the PS3, we’ll be adding a semi automatic shotgun. Both of which are treated much like the weapons in the original were – they must be loud, violent and a lot of fun to use.
Us: How hard was it to translate the advanced graphics and physics from the P.C. to the next-gen consoles? What aspects gave you guys some trouble?
Them: The next gen consoles have enough power to run F.E.A.R. solidly. In some cases, we were able to increase the resolution of our effects and we even added HDR lighting to improve the look of the game.
Us: Extraction Point is also coming out for the PC this fall as well. What new features will we see? Where does the new expansion pack take us as far as the story is concerned? What about new weapons?
Them: Extraction Point will feature several new levels and some new weapons and enemies. The story actually picks up right where the original left off, so it’s a continuation of the original story at the core.
Us: Will we see any of the new content in Extraction Point make the jump to console as well, perhaps in the form of downloadable content?
Them: Right now we haven’t announced any of the XP content in downloadable form for console, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plans for it. We’re concentrating on the titles at hand at the moment but we’ll all just have to wait and see.