Review by darkvoid2100

Reviewed: 05/01/05

Stand aside Scooby, theirs a new dog in town and he's cooler than you

Haunting Grounds is a new Survival Horror game made by the kings of the Survival Horror genre.

Graphics - 10/10

The graphics are amazing, Capcom have really pushed the power of the PS2 for this game, the environments, the character models, the lighting effects, everything just looks great.

Gameplay - 9/10

Well, I have never played anything quite like this before (it's apparently like clock tower, altho I have never played that). Your main character, Fiona, is rather defenseless, all she can do is kick and throw items at her enemies, you will have to run away alot of the time. find a hiding spot and hope you do not get found out, there are many hiding spots such as, under beds, in closets, crouching behind open doors, behind curtains etc.

But thats not all, you have the lovable dog, Hewie by your side who you can command by using the right analog stick, you can tell him to 'search around' 'attack the enemy' to 'follow you' you can even scold him for doing something wrong, or praise him when he does something good, he also warns you when an attacker is close, by barking, this gives you chance to avoid being spotted by them.

Another great feature of the game is 'panic mode', when Fiona starts getting freaked out the screen will go all weird, showing her fear, eventually the fear will overwhelm her and she will run around and be very hard to control, bump into things too much and she will fall over, if your attacker is by you at this time...they will finish you off.

Your stalker is not the only thing that can kill you either, their are numerous traps throughout the game, which instantly kill you if triggered, fortunately, Hewie will give you a warning by barking like crazy when near a trap.

A lot of the time will be spent figuring out the puzzles, they are nothing spectacular but the way Hewie is involved in some puzzles is well done.

My main like with the gameplay is the chases, the whole game is seamless, there is no loading or pauses between rooms and this makes the chases much more intense, also the whole game is in real-time, as you are solving puzzles your stalker could walk in on you at any moment!

The gameplay is not for everyone tho, their is no mass amount of gore or violence, and the game is really not that scary compared to games such as Fatal Frame and Silent Hill, it's on par with Resident Evil in scare factor, the fear is only felt by Fiona, for example she gets scared and gains some panic when a bunch of bugs come out of a wall, that is not scary to the player, just her. The chases can be quite intense and scary tho if you run low on stamina and are basically at walking speed.

Story - 7/10

I have never experienced a storyline like this before, it keeps you shrouded in mystery through the game, giving you odd clues via flashbacks now and again, it is not the type of storyline you can predict, the plot twists are some not many would guess. Overall I found the storyline to get rather stupid near the end, I give it a 7 because it is rather unique.

Music/Sound - 7/10

Haunting Grounds has your average Survival Horror music but I personally found a few of the sounds pretty good, I like how the music changes according to Fiona's state of panic. I also like the chase music, it really drags you into the game, each chaser has their own unique chase music, however the voice acting of Fiona is pretty bad, and Hewie's barking just doesn't sound right.

Replay Value - 8/10

The game itself only took me 7 hours, but there is quite alot of unlock, there are 3 unlockables costumes, 4 endings, and lots of alternate cut scenes but most of all it has the type of gameplay that you could play over and over as it's unlikely to be the same the next times through (bar the scripted encounters).

There is also a really cool Mini-Game where you play as Hewie and you have to get Fiona from point A to point B, you get to do everything that Hewie could throughout the game.

Rent or Buy: This game is not for everyone, and even after reading countless reviews you might will wonder if the game is right for you, if that is the case, I would rent it. however if you love the Survival Horror genre then do not delay in buying this game.

Overall - Survival horror with a twist, as said above, I have never played anything like this, and I'm glad I went for it, kudos to Capcom for yet another awesome Survival Horror title.

Final Score - 8/10

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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