Review by Misfit119

Reviewed: 07/31/07

Fatal Frame was a fair game, but it doesn't hold up to time.

I played Fatal Frame 2 before I played Fatal Frame 1 due to the fact that I couldn’t find the first one for the X-Box. At the time, I didn’t have much space on my memory card, so I got the second one and waited on the first to appear in stores near me. This was really a good idea on my part as I really didn’t like the first game and I might not have ever picked up the second one had I played this first. Not that this is a bad game per se, but it has almost nothing compared to the established survival horror games. Well nothing but a helluva creepy atmosphere.

This game follows the story of a young lady named Miku Hinasaki, a young lady with some psychic talent. As the game opens Miku’s brother, Mafuyu, has gone into a supposedly haunted building, Himuro Manor, in search of his mentor, a noted writer. Mafuyu disappears into this ruin and Miku, in typical horror movie fashion, goes running into the creepy place to get her brother back. Thus begins her descent into her own little slice of hell.

The Fatal Frame games are incredibly creepy due to the way it uses the ghosts that you fight, the building itself and the things that you will find… the whole environment is just one huge creep fest now that I think about it. Even the music is very effective at setting up the proper atmosphere to really scare you silly. While it uses all of this to keep you tense it isn’t this that truly sets this game apart, the Silent Hill games are creepy if that’s all you’re looking for.

However, what does set this game from the rest of the flock is the way that you actually combat those that come after you. You use a camera to actually combat the ghosts who come after you. The Camera Obscura will be your instrument to exorcise the ghosts that you will come across. This goes off the whole concept that cameras are windows to the soul and that they can show you the truth of whatever you take a picture of. This magical camera works its exorcising effect on the target ghosts, chasing them off once you deal enough damage to them if not outright eliminating them entirely.

As the game goes on you will even find special camera lenses that will help you fight the ghosts by providing a number of effects, from doing extra damage to slowing down the ghosts. The amount you can use these special lenses is limited by the number of Spirit Orbs that you acquire during the game, so there is a real limit to how much you can do this. This usually means saving it for those harder boss fights that you will come across or to handle a harder enemy. For the most part ghost encounters are fairly scary and tense affairs with you desperately trying to chase them off with your camera while you attempt to avoid it killing you off.

And the ghosts will be getting quite hard, some in annoying ways and others in genuinely difficult ways. The ghosts that you will fight range from your fairly typical full body ghosts to floating disembodied heads. In addition, each ghost has its own properties that set it apart from the others, whether it is faster moving than others or even able to teleport about. A few rare ghosts can even fire projectiles at you… these ghosts are incredibly annoying. For the most part many of these fights are fairly difficult, but they aren’t impossible to fight. Some few are frustratingly hard to the point of throwing the controller, but these are a rarity.

What makes the ghosts in this game so ungodly annoying is that there is no true stop to them. If you dawdle in an area or explore for too long then you will be visited by a random ghost encounter. These suck because they are just as hard as the regular ghosts but they never stop attacking. If you should happen to get lost for some reason then you can expect to be constantly harassed for the most part every few rooms. Normally exploration is fun in survival horror games but these random encounters can wear down your limited film amounts and your healing items. This can really screw you up later on in the game when you find yourself fighting a boss after a few random encounters.

The graphics for this game have aged pretty well, showing off the freaky manor and the ghosts quite well. However, even for their time, the graphics for the X-Box version of this game were always pretty good. Heck, it fares considerably better than looking back at the older Resident Evil games. It might be hard to appreciate the graphics to their entirety since it requires you to actually get a good clear look at the ghosts and they are usually trying to tear your face off. However if you go into the games photo album you can get a good look at the pictures you have taken and admire your weird ass pictures.

As this is the first Fatal Frame game this is obviously where the series notoriously bad voice acting started. Let me tell you it is in full effect in this game. The voice acting is halting and stilted sounding, the actors clearly reading off of lines ninety percent of the time. When emotion and feeling slips into their voices it usually feels incidental more so than good voice acting. Its almost embarrassing to have your friends ask why you like the game so much, you turn it on to show them and they are greeted with a horribly voice cutscene. They ensue laughter and suggest you play Silent Hill again.

While I love this game for starting the Fatal Frame series, it is most definitely the weakest game in the series. It has all the creepy atmosphere and storyline of the later games but the actual play mechanics are so weak that they seriously damage the game itself. This game is mostly for survival horror fans that are hunting for a good horror story and are willing to look past the gameplay and frustrating ghost fights. If you can do this then the game is worth its meager price. But if you get easily annoyed pass on this game and pick up one of the later entries in the series, they’re way worth the price.

Rating: 7

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