AKA- Why i only play games with the lights on now
Console: Playstation 2
Game type: Horror/Mystery/Puzzle
Number of players: 1
Languages: English dubbed
I suppose a game based around a central supernatural mystery and suspense has reason to not give much away…but still a lil something would be nice.
Instead you are treated to the SAME exact CGI of the begining of the game. It sets the theme/background for the story. It is a rather nice rendition…but just kinda blaise. Just skip it, and start the game…so you can see the same thing again before you get the controls.
Direct, nothing shabby but nothing spectacular either.
In a game where the entire focus hangs on pivotal edge of your seat moments, detail is your bread and butter. And it is had in spades. From the first time you see a shadow or something else skitter just out of yoru vision, to the hundreth time you stare down a violent ghost mere inches from your camera/viewfiner the details will surprise you. Everything bleeds(no pun intended) dark, creepy atmosphere. You wont find a fault here.
Top notch work, but since you spend most of your time with a camera warding off the vengeful souls of the dead you will rarely notice character interaction(unless its the ghosts). However there are lil things that keep it from a perfect score. Enemy units animation cycles(mostly attacks i notice) are off slightly. You can often “cheat” a ghost of an attack if you manage to just slightly avoid the first second or so of its animation. You can then step right on through that zone of threat. However this is where another feature hits ya(which i admit can be more of a gameplay than animation feature). Attacks with the camera sometimes are completely ignored/cancelled out during the breaking of said cycles.
Its not often enough to be a major problem, but its an annoyance.
No stuttering at all, no worriesome load times. The game is a visual feast and the developers im sure realize the neccesity of smooth gameplay since it is a game of fast moments and much stillness otherwise. Smooth at all times, if you find yourself cursing at a ghost or puzzle you will have to find another scapegoat.
Harping back on the details, the game does more than provid lil visual stunts. Like any true horror film, it relys heavily on sound for great effect and emphasis.
Creepy atmosphere music will set you on edge, but its the moments when you hear a lil girl giggling in a not so distant corner that really get ya.
The music itself is fitting. I pass any major judgement on a certain themsong, and defer to it simply as “another random sad/pop japanese theme” that seems to be all the damn rage in game endings.
The only other major stumbling block is the english. While passable or even pleasant in some cases(the ghosts are very well done), the main characters except for Kei(the man) seem flat, hollow, emotionless. The main character is a bad offender but her roomate Miku is the worst yet. With no options or other features in that department sadly you just suffer through it.
A simple setup, the only mar to it being your own stupidity and the games tendency to give you one time notices on new devices in your setup. I had to go through the menu a number of times and dig through the “files” you collect to find the random features of some new gadget for your camera and how to activate it. Other than that, the game is straightforward and deceptively simple in its use.
What better way to accentuate any horror than by being alone. So get used to it. That isnt to say its a hindrance in any way, nor that it is solo gameplay style. Personally i only played this game with my wife in the room and my teddybear clutched to my chest. Save the hate mail till after you get that first fright moment out of your own head. The games main story gives you PLENTY to work through. It is divided into “nights” with each venture into the “night” giving you a new goal or objective to search for. The main story should keep you occupied for at least 12 hours minimum(easy mode with a previous expereince with the games), but can easily expand into the 20-30 hour range.
There is no multiplayer here, but there is a nice addendum of enough extras to warrant its own lil look. This factors directly into the singleplayer score already.
Preminent among the extras is the much touted and much loved “Mission Mode” Taken as a staple from all previous installments is the feature which cuts out all that scary walking around and focuses on the truly evil stuff. Getting down and dirty with the ghosts. You are given pre-set conditions, a character and a objective. The object is to score the most points, be this in a single shot, or cumulative in defeating a ghost.
The purpose of mission mode, aside from expanding your swearing vocabulary and testing your skill to the extreme is to earn points.
This combined with the points earned in the regular game will let you “purchase” various items. These range from the popular stayover of character costumes, to new and powerful parts for your camera.
Minimal. The only “annoying” load is if you edit albums of your photos. This requires a seperate savestate and tends to be the slowest process as you access the album, play with your photos and then save it.
In a gaming world slowly coming to repeat itself, the innovation of this series will be sadly missed. While there are many survival/horror games that spawned from the late 90’s onwards, none have had the same effect as Fatal Frame. This game series moves away from the extreme graphic violence of aforementioned games to focus on the REALLY scary stuff. The subtletys of horror are the true stuff of afficionados of the culture. A game where the focus is almost more on the underlying horror and mystery than your actual survival will draw far more out of you than you would think. Here in the third iteration Tecmo gives us a proper ending to the series, but lets not hope this “type” of gaming experience.
Leave it to japan to produce the truly freaky amongst a modern background. The Tormented takes an overiding theme of “Survivors guilt” and combines it with twisted folklore and urban legends to create a truly succesful end to a trilogy of games. Though you originally start with lil ties to the previous games, you are slowly pulled in to the threads of ALL of their workings. It is done with such skill and storytelling that no fan of past games will be dissapointed. The focus is on Rei. She is a photographer trying to come to terms with her own life just a short time after she survives an automobile crash which takes the life of her fiancee Yuu. Working at a supposed “haunted” site to take some pictures, she is quickly drawn into the darkest of mysterys when she sees Yuu in the mansion.
What follows is her own dark descent into self-pity and pain as well as a supernatural horror.
The game series is a cult phenomenon. While the games have been very succesful, the audience reached is still rather comparatively small. And yet this fervent fan base is dedicated, a result of the wonderful game series. Its story is tragic, but its theme universal. Supernatural in nature, but not quite out of the realm of belief. Combined with excellent gameplay, beautiful visuals, and extras galore makes this a very hard to put down game.
Perhaps im biased, but anytime a game has enough guts to give you multiple endings im in love. In a age where many games seem to “play” like a movie, games with real interaction and secrets are a joy. The unlockable xtras are nice. The other hidden secrets are just as addictive.
A “Ghost list”, which is a collection of photos of hidden passive ghosts througout the game is a great example of this. Hidden links to the previous games in the form of journals/books/etc scattered around are also great.
A game where you get all of this but still work to unlock them(as opposed to being given them) makes it feel worth it all the more.
This is one of the best endings to a trilogy around. Any previous fan of the series will be seriously harming themself by not picking this up. Any newcomers will be sorely mistaken to not give this “final” of the series a shot as well. I can think of many games/movies series where the end is always held with high hopes…then fumbled badly leaving a sour taste in your mouth.
Fatal Frame is NOT that series. It brings together everything that was loved previously, adds enough new to keep it on the edge AND brings to conclusion a virtual world of story and thought. A solid end to a solid series, this is sure to please most fans and hopefully encourage any newcomers into seeking out the past games.
Do yourself a favor and rent this game. When your rental runs out(and you still havnt beaten it) go buy the game and welcome a excellent game to your library.
DZ0’s thoughts and spoilers:
Spooky…but oh so good. I for one loved the somewhat slower and frantic spin into this game. The previous incarnations tend to get down to ghostly business quick enough, but in this game a slow descent fits it all too well. The terror becomes that more real to your mind when you go from terrible nightmares, to quick visions in the daytime. From a “normal” routine of nightmares breaking to the day, to a constantly shifting world of nightmares both real, imagined and otherwise in all aspects of your life.
I especially liked some of the lil touches in Rei’s home. The stain on one wall in your house which slowly forms itself into a scream pained visage of a man is QUITE a spooky but unneccesary touch.(and if your wondering, the person is according to my own thoughts and my wifes, the Kusabi from the second game). I forced myself to play with the lights out. Thats not entirely true. MY WIFE forced me to. She is even worse of a fan than i am(i can be a lil objective on its faults and such), but is completely unable to deal with its scare factor.
I loved it, and while i disliked the first ending a bit(what the fuck? Kei turned to ash…), it does open and then close a nice lil story link in the other ending you can then earn.
By Darknight Z0