Extermination

Quite possibly the first “survival horror” game for the PlayStation 2, Extermination was developed by Deep Space and published by Sony Computer Entertainment in 2001. Taking place in Antarctica, a special Marine squad receives orders to investigate a research facility that has gone silent. Would this mission be met with a rousing round of success or would it get frozen in time?

Story:
One of the rare games that take place around Christmas, Extermination has a squad of marines departing for a research facility on December 24th, 2005. Their plane mysteriously goes up in smoke just as they arrive and the marines parachute to safety. You take control of Dennis Riley and are led by his mentor Roger who helps the two of you enter the research facility named “Fort Stewart”.

Things quickly go South, as Dennis and Roger discover that the facility seems abandoned after some type of disaster occurred leaving scientists, researchers, and other members of the fort dead and scattered throughout. Dennis scouts ahead and turns the power back on enabling Roger to lower the drawbridge that will allow them to rendezvous with the rest of their squad. Unfortunately for Roger, he is attacked by slug-like creatures about the size of your forearm. His body is engulfed by a strange substance and is left for dead. Dennis is saved by a woman in a yellow hazmat suit as she shoots away at the slugs before instructing him to leave the facility.

After exploring more of the facility while searching for his squadmates, Dennis encounters the mysterious woman again who is revealed to be Cindy, a long-time friend of Dennis. They had a mutual friend or perhaps it was Cindy’s lover die in battle with Dennis in Cambodia, and Cindy has yet to forgive Dennis for letting Andrew die. (Even though he had nothing to do with the death and couldn’t have stopped it! Women…, am I right?!) Cindy gives Dennis some more advice and tells him again to leave.

He continues to search for his squad as he encounters more slugs and a few humans who have mutated into walking monsters (think of the clickers in The Last of Us) until he finds a man named Travis Miller claiming to be a journalist. This Traver Miller fellow says he has been researching this place for five years for a huge story and that he’s working on releasing all the news. Dennis ignores him and continues to search for his squad.

Eventually, Dennis teams up with Cindy and her co-worker Sonja who instructs him to blow up the facility by activating three detonators that are placed throughout the buildings. Fighting his way through monsters and slugs, Dennis activates the detonators while finding his commander, a man named Mike. Mike is badly injured from an attack by the body of Roger. Dennis kills mutant Roger and Mike realizing that his future is grime, volunteers to blow up the third detonator manually.

Dennis leaves Mike and heads down to a secret lab where he discovers the source of all the mutants. 60,000 years ago an alien in the form of bacteria found on a meteor crashed into Earth. Recently scientists have monitored it and experimented on it in the labs before it broke loose and started infecting the staff through the water turning them into mutants. It’s just my guess, but I bet the slugs were once rats.

Cindy tells Dennis that she is leaving and to hop on the boat to escape with her as Sonja has been killed. Dennis makes his way to the boat as they escape the facility as it blows up. The original source of bacteria has materialized into a huge sea monster that chases them from the facility eventually attacking their ship. Dennis kills it with cannon fire and Cindy finally forgives Dennis for the death of Andrew with a very awkward “friend zone” conversation. This has me thinking though that since the bacteria flourish in water and with the body of it being in the ocean…wouldn’t it go on to infect other creatures like fish? I don’t know, I guess it’s irrelevant since there is no sequel.

Gameplay:
Extermination is an impressive looking game especially as it was one of the earliest titles on the PS2. Character models look great and the environments match. The voice acting is very solid, I thought they did a fine job but the dialogue itself is terrible. It comes across as very awkward. You can tell the writers wanted to have the characters come off as “troubled” and battling real emotions throughout the from the intro to Extermination, but they come off as comical and mechanical.

To save in Extermination you’ll need battery life in your pack. You can recharge your battery as various stations so it’s not too much of a bothersome, but sometimes you’ll need the battery charge to open doors up so you’ll have to spend the power wisely if there isn’t a charger nearby. You have two separate health bars, one is the physical health of Dennis who can get hurt from bullets, falling, fire, etc.. and an infection meter that goes up when he is bit or spit on by monsters. If the infection reaches 100 percent his health will start to dwindle quickly. The only way to cure Dennis is to find booster shots that help fight the infection or to find a medical bed where he will be administered a special antidote that restores him to 100 percent health both physically and with the infection. Be careful though, as this practice takes antidote syringes and they are few and far in-between.

Throughout the game, there are large wooden crates that can be smashed revealing helpful items like ammo or other special items. It’s a risk vs reward because most of the time they contain slugs. These slugs aren’t as easy to kill as you think. Many times I’d try to knife them and end up missing only for them to fly onto me or spit on me. About halfway through the game, the whole facility becomes a swarming breeding ground for the bacteria and mutants are in just about every room. The style of gameplay went from clearing out rooms of enemies to running away and avoiding them because of how many outnumbered you.

I loved the in-game menu. It was intuitive and sophisticated as it offered submenus for your map, gun, items, and more. The gun comes highly customizable and you can equip things like a laser sight, zoom scope, and other sub-weapons like shotgun shells, flamethrower fuel, grenades, and even rocket missiles. This was a huge shining light in the game and I found it very impressive.

The final battle is in three segments. First, you’ll have to take control of a cannon or Gatlin gun to lure the monster out of the ocean and onto the ship. Second, you’ll fire grenades or ammo at the core of the monster and finally, it will transform into a mutant human that resembles Dennis. It was a tough final boss and it took me three or four times to beat him. Thankfully, I had enough rockets to take him down. The big “pay off” to the game was Cindy giving Dennis some quick BS line about forgiving him for Andrew’s death, while Dennis friendzone’s her hard with a line about “being friends, right?” as he practically pats her on the back. Ouch! It was a super lame payoff, and everyone saw it coming from a million miles away as Cindy teased throughout the game that she had to tell Dennis something. Also, what the hell happened to Travis Miller who was seen throughout the game masquerading around as a journalist when he was a scientist? I feel like he was a big plot point and he just disappears.

Memories:
I played Extermination from a PS2 demo disc that I received from PlayStation magazine. Playing the demo a hundred times I ended up buying the game using birthday money my friends gave me in sixth grade. I randomly bought Extermination, and Metal Gear Solid 2. My friend Tony and I were on vacation and his parents stopped at a Meijer where I bought the two games. Tony had brought his mobile PS2 screen so I remember playing Extermination on the floor in some cubby. I don’t know, we were weird kids.

Extermination was never a game I got too far in as a kid and I kind of forgot about it until I reviewed it. I’m glad I finally played the game through and gave it a proper play.

Overall:
Extermination offers some early survival horror on the PS2. The graphics look great and paired with a customizable gun, Extermination shows it can be a solid game in your collection. Cheesy dialogue and some questionable plot holes make for some eyebrow-raising moments, but for the most part, Extermination deserves a chance.

Extermination scores a 7.4 out of 10.

Do you remember when Extermination first came out? What’s a game for the PS2 that you feel that no one remembers? What did you think about the plot of Extermination? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.

If you’d like to own a copy of Extermination, you can purchase a used copy of it for the PS2 for $16 on eBay.

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