Extermination is a survival horror video game for PlayStation 2. Since the title was a first-party game and came out very early in the system's life cycle, it was used as a showcase for the system at trade shows before its release. The game was considered the first survival horror release on the PlayStation 2 and generated some hype amongst critics, but Extermination only received mostly average reviews. Former members of the development team joined Access Games.
Extermination takes place on December 24, 2005. It focuses on U.S. Marines Special Forces Recon Sergeant Dennis Riley, part of "Team Red Light". His squad receives a distress call from Fort Stewart, a top secret American research facility in Antarctica. The distress call is a request for a prompt air strike on the base. In response, Team Red Light is sent in via C-17 to investigate the facility. The plane malfunctions and the entire team is scattered, their last order to regroup in Ground Facility Building B.
Dennis, along with teammate Roger Grigman, are outside the fort. The duo enter the fort through the ventilation shaft. After discovering that "this place looks like a battlefield," they try to get the drawbridge lowered to continue on to Building B. The drawbridge is lowered, but Roger comes under attack by Hydras. He is infected multiple times and mutates rapidly in front of Dennis. A mysterious woman in a contamination suit enters and fires at Roger, seemingly killing him. She throws Dennis a SPR4 clip (an item that increases the player's maximum ammunition by 30 shots), an MTS vaccine ("Use it if you don't want to end up like your friend!"), and orders him to tell his team to escape the fort.
Dennis crosses the drawbridge and pursues the mysterious woman, who has initiated Lockdown. This has prevented Dennis from opening the door to reach her. She tells Dennis the code to disable the lockdown. When he reaches the control room, Dennis inserts the code and backtracks. Dennis learns he knows the woman; Cindy Chen. Her boyfriend, Andrew, was Dennis's partner in Cambodia. He was killed in action. Cindy, after being told the bad news, has not spoken to Dennis since.
Cindy tells Dennis that the Marines must leave the fort as soon as possible and "tell your government that their dirty little secret has become a nightmare." Dennis destroys a mutated human while on his way outside. He is stopped by journalist Travis Miller, who has been undercover for five years and gives Dennis his card. He finds the Water Filtration Plant on his way to Building B and meets Carl Morris, an overseer of the project that started the entire thing. He tells Dennis that "there's something strange about the water, though you can't tell by looking at it." Carl dies from previous injuries, and Dennis finally reaches Building B.
Once there, Major Mike Madigan briefs Dennis on the situation thus far. He says that the Pentagon has decided to have the facility destroyed. There are three detonators that must be activated. Inconveniently, the detonators cannot be detonated remotely, meaning that somebody has to activate them manually. Madigan remarks that he sent some of the team, but they are having problems. The remainder of the team goes to the helicopter outside, where a mutated human is drinking from a water tower. After taking it down, the water inside the tower moves around as if it is alive, and just when it attacks the team, it freezes in place. Madigan sends Dennis off to assist in activating the detonators.
Inside Building B, a woman named Sonja Leone tells him that the areas holding the detonators can be unlocked from Building B with the metal tags. Cindy arrives and tells Dennis to leave her alone. Dennis, knowing why she is so dismal, is irritated and tells Cindy "On that day Andrew sacrificed his life to save mine. Now I've sworn to protect yours, no matter what happens." After receiving items from Sonja, Dennis is sent on his way.
Dennis receives a distress call from Taylor, a RECON Marine, telling Dennis that he is with survivors and surrounded by enemies. Dennis picks up Taylor's trail, finds his dead body, acquires the Metal Tag, and heads to Lv. 2 detonator center, which is noted by Cindy to have little power and no lighting. He has another run-in with Travis Miller, who says that he has all the evidence and stories he needs to leave.
Dennis heads towards Lv. 1 detonator center and comes across a wounded RECON Marine, Gary. Gary gives Dennis a metal tag and tells him that he will head to the infirmary. Dennis radios Cindy, and Dennis recalls the battle he had with the mutated human on the water tower and how the water froze in place. Cindy notes that this might be a clue. Dennis goes to Lv. 1 detonator center and uncovers documents revealing that this plague is really caused by a bacterium called HO213, and grows faster on contact with water. He reads on about how full tests were conducted but when the DNA master strain is gone, the entire strain dies out. When the detonator is activated, he radios Cindy, who tells him that Sonja is missing.
Dennis goes back to Building B and finds Sonja dead. He and Cindy work out that the bacterium is extremely weak against cold, and while the bacteria strain can never fully be destroyed, it would be put in a state of cryogenic preservation if exposed to the cold. However, killing the Master Strain (Origin) would wipe out the entire bacteria and present no threat in the future, when Antarctica would be subject to Global Warming. Cindy checks her computer and tells Dennis that the HO213 requires a certain temperature in order to be incubated, and the infested water heading towards the coolant is where Major Madigan and his team is supposed to be. Dennis hurries to save the team.
On the way, Dennis comes across another RECON Marine, Filel (The game had the character's name spelled Filel at first, and then it was changed to Felil mid-game), who dies from an unknown gunshot wound. Dennis climbs a small mountain and meets up with Madigan, who orders him to obtain an explosive Gary made, which is placed in the downed C-17. Dennis obtains the explosive and gets a radio call from Madigan, telling him to regroup.
Dennis uses the elevator to arrive at Madigan's position, and he is shocked to find Roger, hideously mutated into a superior fighting machine. Dennis engages Roger in a furious fight and emerges victorious. He comes across a gravely injured Madigan, who tells him that Felil was a CIA agent and the only person who was supposed come back alive. Madigan reveals that he knew about the bacteria the entire time, and was given a secret objective by the government to destroy it. Other factions in the government, such as the CIA, hired Felil to preserve the bacteria. Madigan sends himself with explosive in hand to the coolant reactor as a suicide bomber, leaving Dennis enough time to escape.
Meanwhile, back in Building B, Gary tells Cindy that he witnessed the death of Andrew. "The fighting was so fierce that Dennis couldn't even bring back his body." Cindy confesses that when Dennis had to give the bad news, she said things to Dennis she wished she could take back. However, each time she sees Dennis, she could not bring herself to apologize. Gary goes on to talk about how much Dennis cares for Cindy.
Dennis arrives in Building B and hands Cindy the disk given to him by Mike Madigan, Cindy decodes it, finding out that the project, "Extermination", is a test of the bacteria's potential, basically labeling everybody in the facility, including the Marines, as "guinea pigs". Dennis heads towards the last detonator, and is stopped by Dr. Yan Falken, the scientist who is obsessed with the bacteria, calling it his son. Fortunately, the room shakes as things fall from the ceiling, hitting and killing Falken. He activates the last detonator and hurries back to Cindy & Gary.
The facility explodes, and Origin, the master DNA strain, takes the form of a fish and chases the LCAC holding the three. Dennis mans the machine guns on the LCAC and takes down Origin in fish form. It takes form of a gigantic beast and a showdown ensues over the small LCAC. Dennis again emerges victorious. The Origin then takes one last stand and recreates a look-alike of Dennis. After an extremely fierce battle, Dennis is victorious once more and ensures the destruction of the master DNA strand, silencing the threat of the HO213. Cindy apologizes to Dennis about the things she said to him, and Dennis accepts the apology, telling her that if she ever needed his help, all she has to do is call him.
Extermination is a survival horror game, and as such players are encouraged to run whenever they can. This idea is reinforced by the fact that ammunition is limited for the main character's weapons (unlimited ammo refills are located in very few places), and enemies typically take a lot of damage before being defeated. Another element of survival horror that stays true is that special ammo for special weapons (such as the shotgun, flamethrower, grenade launcher, and the rocket launcher) is limited from the get-go. The game only has so much ammo. Once the player finds them all and uses them all up, they are gone for good.
The game also features an Infection System. Along with a conventional health bar, there is also an "Infection Rate". Enemies in the game have the potential to both deal damage to Dennis' health and raise his Infection Rate. When the rate reaches 100%, Dennis becomes completely infected by the virus, and his maximum health is not only reduced to 60%, but also constantly depletes. Additionally, things that would usually not harm Dennis (i.e. infected puddles) or would only infect him now take damage. This can be fought back using a special machine called the MTS Bed located in certain areas of the game which cures the infection and restores his health to full, but this also requires an MTS vaccine, a limited item. If Dennis' health reaches zero when infected, he will mutate into a creature and die, resulting in a game over.
In the beginning, Dennis is equipped with a Special Purpose Rifle, or "SPR-4" assault rifle, a weapon traditionally given to the armed forces in the game's setting. This weapon is highly customizable and can be fitted with gadgets such as a zoom scope, flashlight grip, radar, and parts which convert it to different types of weapons such as a flame thrower, shotgun, or rocket launcher. Dennis also has a Combat Knife and can do either a single strong slash or multiple weak slashes. Another unique factor in Extermination's gameplay is the "Battery Pack". Found near the beginning of the game, Dennis uses this rechargeable battery to activate various machinery, and execute functions common to most video games such as saving the game. The battery pack can be upgraded to hold more power by collecting cells found in various locations around the Fort.
Influences and design
Reviewers noted that the storyline and setting were reminiscent of John Carpenter's 1982 science fiction horror film The Thing, while some noted resemblances between Ennio Morricone's soundtrack for the film and the music present in Extermination. Other comparisons included Carrier, Resident Evil, and the water effects similar to those from the film The Abyss.