Tag Archives: pictures

First Impression: Project Zero 2 – The Crimson Butterfly (PS2) ~ A Sisterly Bond

Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly

Wikipedia entry

Ah Fatal Frame, a series I found quite interesting when I was a little child but fell in love with a few years ago when I was able to get my hands on a collector’s edition of the Wii U entry in the series. It was the 5th entry in the series and I loved it so much, I started to hunt down all the other entries in the series. Last year, I was able to get myself all the European released games on PS2, in a physical copy! While testing them out,  enjoyed myself quite a lot with Fatal Frame 2. So, I kept playing that game. It’s no secret that I enjoyed myself with this game since I gave a spot on my top 10 games I played in 2018. So what are my actual opinions on this game? Well, let’s find out! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

PS: The article was originally going to be publish on this Sunday, but because today is my 26th birthday, I decided to publish it today as a birthday special.

A sisterly bond

fatal frame II screenshot 2The story starts out with two sisters running around in the forest playing. Suddenly, the pass a stone and it looks like the duo entered another dimension. The two get terrified that there is no easy way out and even worse, the two split up. Not willing, mind you. One of the two sisters get mesmerized with a crimson butterfly that she keeps following.

So, you need to go look for your sister in a creepy and haunted town while you need to escape ghosts and try to find an exit of the city. The setting for this horror game is excellent. The voice acting in this game is really well done, the voices of the two sisters is excellent. I also loved the performances of the ghosts since they kept me on the edge of my seat in certain battles.

The story is mostly told through notes, cutscenes and the environment.  There are moments you are together with your sister and there are moments she sees that damned butterfly again.  She really likes these red butterflies. Now, the story so far has been quite enjoyable. While sometimes I feel that the story is mostly used to string levels and area’s together, it’s executed extremely well. I really felt that something strange was happening and that there were higher powers at play.

Now, I am quite curious where the story of this game will go. The mysteries are getting unrevealed slowly but I still don’t have any answers. Now, do you need to play the first game before you can understand the story of the 2nd game? Well, not at all. The story is totally independent from the first game, while a lot of story mechanics return in the second game, all the characters are new.

Also, I haven’t beaten the original game myself. Now, you might wonder why I have chosen to play this game on the PS2 and not go for the director cut on the XBOX or Wii. That has two reasons. One, I don’t own an XBOX and two, the physical copy of the Wii game is extremely expensive. Now, when I was finishing up this review, I discovered that the game got released on the Nintendo eShop, so I bought myself a digital copy.

Anyways, we are getting off track here. The story itself is interesting. It’s two fold actually. In one part, it’s about how to escape the village and in another part, it’s about saving your sister. So, I have the impression that this game has multiple endings. But, I have to beat the game to know that for sure!

Spooky Camera

project_zero_2-6Because this is a Fatal Frame game, the Camera Obscura shows itself again. If you have played any other games in the series, you know how this game plays. In this game, you have to explore an area that’s filled with ghosts. Some ghosts aren’t hostile but the most of them are hostile. In order to defeat the ghosts, you have to take pictures of the ghosts. The better they are in frame, the more damage they receive. The damage also depends on the film you use. There is an aspect of survival horror to this game since the amount of film isn’t infinite. The stronger films are really hard to find and quite rare.

Combat in this game is an awkward dance with the ghosts. You have to come close to snap a good picture. But, if they are too close, they can grab you and you get damage. So, you have to move backwards. Now, the camera you use is quite old. So, it needs to recharge after each use. You have audio and visual cues to see when the camera is recharging.

To be honest, I found the combat controls better in the Wii U game I played. In my review of Resident Evil 4, I mentioned that I had difficulty with aiming my gun on the PlayStation 2. The same thing applies here. So, each play session, I have to get used to the controls. It doesn’t take too long, but it makes me miss the Wii U controls. Maybe when I play the Wii version, I won’t have this issue too much.

Now, this game doesn’t have an autosave. Much like Resident Evil 4, you can save at certain locations. In this game, it’s a red lantern on a pedestal. You have a limited amount of save slots, but that doesn’t bother me too much since it helps me to get more points. Side note, there is an improvement over the save system of Resident Evil since there is a small picture accompanying the save file.

Yes, the better the image, the higher the points you get. These points can be used to upgrade your camera. Upgrades like shutter speed or damage output. You can also find upgrades in various, sometimes hidden, locations to get certain things up to a higher level. There is a safer way in earning points as well. If you are able to make a picture of the scripted harmless ghosts, you get some bonus points. So, it’s highly advised to explore around and not go to solve the puzzles straight away.

Oh yes, this game has puzzles. Some of the puzzles require you to analyze a photograph and try to work out where it came from. Other puzzles require you to find a certain key item to open a door or to lift a curse on a door in order to progress.

Like a lot of other survival horror games, this game also suffers from some jump scares. Now, I find the build up to the jump scares pretty good. Most of the jump scares happen a bit off screen when you haven’t encountered a ghost for a while. In the Wii U game, the jump scares were way worse. Also, it’s quite possible to miss some jump scares if you didn’t explore certain areas of the room.

Exploring the city and the buildings is made much easier with a great map system. The map draws itself while you are exploring. The area only adds itself when the area is discovered. Also, when a door is locked, the door isn’t shown in blue but in red. Now, if you unlock a door when solving a puzzle that is somewhere else on the map, I don’t know for sure if the door also changes to blue. Since, to be honest, I haven’t paid attention to that.

There are a few additional things to the combat and gameplay I’m going to keep a secret for this article. The only thing I’ll say about it is that there is a combo system and a few other features. The camera is used in so many different unique and creative ways, it keeps the mechanic from being repetitive.

 Atmosphere in the dark

fatal frame II screenshotThis game is totally worth to wear the title of horror game. The atmosphere of the game is done extremely well. While this game first released on the PS, this game still looks amazing to this day. Some models and textures do show their age, but the lighting and visual design gives an extremely creepy atmosphere. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat during most of my play sessions. I even went as far as closing the curtains of my room or to play this game at night with a good pair of headphones and in the dark. Only the dim glow of my darkened LCD television to keep me company.

I have played this game without and with my headset on. I found the game better when I played with a headset or with a good sound system. I wouldn’t listen to most of the soundtrack outside of the game but in the game, it helps to build the scary atmosphere so well. Some tracks sound like wind blowing through the room or that something is chasing and/or following you. Together with the amazing sound design of the ghosts, this game is just creepy.

The ghosts don’t sound either human nor other worldly. This is especially creepy because the ghosts moan and speak in Japanese. Well, most of them speak Japanese. Some ghosts also speak English and hearing that suddenly makes it even more creepy. They even managed to make picking up items scary with playing an animation and a creepy sound effect each time when you reach down to pick up an item. You also never know what the item will be since it’s a glowing white orb on the ground. It’s also possible to find some items in various drawers and house hold items. So, explore away!

Now, the bulk of the story is told through the locations you visit. There are some cut scenes where somethings are explained, but the visuals help to tell the story. There are also some moments where you find a stone that tells some additional story to flesh out the story even more. Earlier in this first impression, I talked about how the two sisters entered a cursed village and they are trying to find their way out. In this game you explore various locations. From a graveyard to a scary forest. You also explore various typical Japanese homes to a big shrine. While I was exploring, I really felt I was exploring an abandoned haunted village. The realism and attention for detail in the visual presentation is amazing.

Something I really want to praise this game for is that lighting. The lighting in this game is one of the strongest points. Of course, the game takes place during the night. It’s never light outside. At least, so far. I haven’t finished the game after all. The various candles littered around the village help to sell the atmosphere even more. The flashlight that you can control with one of the joysticks of the PS controller works flawlessly.

So, I think it’s quite clear that the atmosphere of this game is solid. When you want to play a good horror game, I highly recommend this game. The game also provides you with some good challenges. From tricky ghost encounters to clever puzzles. Now, you can run away from the ghosts, but you’ll lose points. And if you don’t get enough points, you might not be able to defeat certain bosses easily. Since, points = upgrades.

The controls is something that some people don’t like about this game. Personally, I got used to them after a while. I already talked about the struggle I had with the aiming of the camera. But, that also helps in the immersion department in a way. Remember, you are playing as a young Japanese girl trapped in a cursed village looking for your sister and a way to escape. Of course, you are scared and you are looking frantically for a way to defend yourself.

I’m almost forgetting to talk about the animation of this game. The animation in this game gets extremely close to the uncanny valley. I’m convinced that it’s in the uncanny valley for some. Especially how certain characters react and express their emotions. For example, how the two sisters like arms when they are witnessing something scary for the first time. They are looking for comfort with each other. It still blows my mind that there was such life like animation on the PlayStation 2.

I could continue to talk about this game for a while longer but most of it will be praising the game. If you are a horror fan, you really owe it to yourself to check out this game. The quality of the Fatal Frame series is up there with the Silent Hill and the original Resident Evil games. I’ll talk a bit more in depth about the game when I write my review. Consider the things I haven’t talked about in this first impression review as nice surprises when you decide to play this game.

With that said, I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Advertisements

First Impression: Project Zero – Maiden Of The Blackwater (Wii U) ~ Snap Those Ghosts

project zero.jpg

Official website

While I know that Halloween is over and that we are extremely close to another holiday, that is supposed to bring happiness and joy to people, that doesn’t stop me from talking about a scary game. I had heard a lot about this game and also a lot about the franchise, Fatal Frame. In fact, this is the 5th entry into the series. Thankfully, you don’t need to know about the previous games in this series to enjoy this game. When I saw in my local game store that I was able to pick up the collectors edition with everything in it for a cheap price, I don’t hesitate. I mean, I’m a game collector after all. In any case, I think it’s time to take a look at this game since this game did something with me. Do I regret buying this game or have I been enjoying it? Let me explain while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Scared-y cat

Project-Zero-V-2.jpg

So, I’m not that good with horror games. I get spooked too easily and generally, my play style doesn’t fit the more careful way of planning and strategizing that you need to survive in horror games.

Now, in recent memory, there were a few horror games that actually made me want to play horror games. First, there was this psychological horror game called 999: 9 Hours 9 People 9 Doors then there was this, somewhat over the top, horror visual novel adventure series called Corpse Party. Then I noticed something if I’m able to get invested in the story, I tend to enjoy myself. Also, I tend to enjoy Japanese horror games more than western horror games.

That’s what happened almost right away in Project Zero. The story is pretty well written and takes various twists and turns. Some I had seen coming, but the pacing and execution are great.

You play this game in chapters, called “drops” in this game where you visit a cursed Japanese mountain. You can play as a few different characters, but there are no big differences between them gameplay-wise. The difference is in the story.

In this game, you can choose between English and Japanese voice acting. I honestly tried both and I think they are both great. For my overall gameplay, I tend to choose the English voice acting since I enjoy looking at the cutscenes on my big TV and the subtitles are just a bit too small on there.

So far, I’m at the 5th drop and I have been enjoying the story. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has to throw at it. I also like how you can get some backstory with the various notes you find. While some people don’t enjoy reading huge walls of text, in this game there aren’t too many and they aren’t too long to read either.

Snap those ghosts

project zero 2

Something I really like in this game is that this game doesn’t have a limited amount of ways to defend yourself and still stay challenging.

In this game, you solve different cases related to the haunted mountain. While you can explore the mountain, most of the game is somewhat linear. You can do some exploration but not too much.

During your exploration, you can get attacked by different ghosts. Now, you can choose to avoid most of them, but others you will have to “kill”. This you can do by snapping various pictures of them. The better you get the ghost and it’s face into the frame, the more damage you do.

There is also a point system and these points can be crucial to your survival. The better pictures you take and the better combo’s you make, the more points you earn. You can use these points to not only upgrade your camera to do more damage and defeat the boss or the stronger ghosts more easily. You can also use your points to buy various healing and supportive items at the start of a chapter. So, if you need more healing items or supportive items AND you want to upgrade your camera, you better make good pictures of the ghosts.

There is a “risk and reward” system here. If you let the ghost come close, you will get damaged, but you also do more damage. So, you really have to think wisely when you get in to combat.

While you are exploring the area, you can choose if you have your screen mirrored on the Wii U gamepad or if a map is shown. Something I really like during combat is how the game shows a more general view on the TV screen and a more zoomed in view if you look through the Wii U gamepad. You really get the feeling you are snapping pictures of those ghosts using the Wii U gamepad as a camera.

The camera is a game mechanic used to it’s fullest in the game. You will also need to use it to bring items from the ghost world to ours. There are a few other mechanics too, but I leave those for you to discover if you decide to play this game.

Shivers

Project-Zero-Maiden-of-Black-Water-Screenshot-21.jpg

The visual presentation of this game is extremely well done. The game looks amazing on the Wii U. The game really drew me in with its visuals and animations.

While I have seen some clipping in the animations, when it comes to humans picking up objects, there are a few moments where I thought the game could use just a bit more visual polish. Especially the animation of the hair I found lacking. Almost everything on the body is well animated, even down to a shaking hand to simulate shivers in the characters when they are picking up objects. But, the hair mostly stays static, as blobs to the head of the characters.

Also, there are some invisible walls in this game. While I understand that there are some invisible walls to avoid players running off cliffs, sometimes they are used in places I think they weren’t needed. For example, there was one place where you had a room with an altar and a pool in front of it. You were unable to go to the altar since in the middle of the pool, there was an invisible wall.

Those are the only complaints that I have when it comes to the visual presentation of this game. And most of them, don’t really bother me that much. I really think they did a great job when it comes to the visual presentation. It even creeped me out sometimes.

Besides the visual design, the sound design does a lot to creep you out too. In most cases, when a spook happens, some loud noise or sound effect plays. That’s not always the case in this game. This game can play tricks on you with moving dolls or just putting silent ghosts just right around the corner.

The sound design also helps out in the cutscenes and regular gameplay. You get additional sound effects playing through the speakers of the gamepad, making some situations even more creepy.

Overall, I think it’s quite clear with all the praise I’m giving the game, that I’m enjoying this game. But, there is one thing that I think really brings this game down. Sometimes, the controls in combat aren’t as smooth as they are supposed to be.

I had times where my gamepad lagged behind what was happening on the screen or the other way around. Also, the gamepad didn’t always follow my movements when I went from side to side. This caused some damage that could have been avoided. While I write it off as my character packing and being flustered, I can see some gamers being frustrated at this and stop playing the game altogether.

The game has two difficulty levels. You can play this game on easy and on normal. Maybe, you unlock a higher difficulty when you beat this game, but I haven’t done that yet.  In addition to that, I assume that you unlock the costumes also at the end of the game. Since I’m at the 5th drop and not one costume unlocked. Maybe, I’m overlooking something here.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. There are a few things I left out in this review since I think it would be more fun for you to discover while you are playing the game for yourself. This game is totally worth playing if you enjoy adventure games and games with a good story. But beware, for spooky moments.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.