Tag Archives: zombies

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, I 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 published 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 gets 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 are 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 areas 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 about 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 of 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 to 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 most of them are hostile. In order to defeat the ghosts, you have to take pictures of the ghosts. The better they are in the 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 backward. 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 of earning points as well. If you are able to take 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 are 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.

 The atmosphere in the dark

fatal frame II screenshotThis game is totally worth to wear the title of a 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 give 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 a 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 otherworldly. 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 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 household 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 are 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 lifelike 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 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.

Game Quicky: Feeding Frenzy 2 (PC) ~ Shipwreck Showdown

header.jpgSteam page

This week, I was sick, so I didn’t have time to fully prepare a new article. But since I didn’t want to skip this week, I decided to take a look at a casual game called Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown. Since this game isn’t that “big”, this is going to be a game quicky. So, I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this game and/or the content of this article in the comment section.

Gameplay

3.jpgIn this game, the goal is quite simple. You start out as a small fish and you have to grow. You can only eat fish that is smaller than you.

When you eat enough fish, you grow to your next form. Then you can eat bigger fish. When you have grown three times, you can go to the next level.

But be warned, while you are looking for other fish, you are being hunted as well by bigger fish. That can eat you.

The faster you eat smaller fish, the bigger combo you make and the bigger score you get at the end.

Positives

feeding4.jpgThe game has no tutorial. This game might explain itself but that’s not the positive here. The game learns the mechanics to you through playing.

Visually, this game still holds up. This game was released 10 years ago. (Funny enough, on my birthday. The 7th of February 2006). This game is still nice and colorful to look at.

You won’t need a strong PC to play this game. This is a cheap (10€ at the time of writing) game that can provide some fun when you are bored.

This game gets challenging, in the later stages. The early stages are easy enough to get used to the mechanics but the later stages won’t be that easy.

There is a reset all scores button in the high scores menu. While this might look like a small and unimportant thing… I think it’s very nice to have this.

Negatives

1.jpgOne of the negatives is that I can’t ALT+TAB out of the game. I had to restart the game because it didn’t show me anything after the ALT+TAB. This is something that should be fixed since it made writing this article such a pain.

A small help file would be kinda nice. Since techniques like dashing and tail biting or when you earn an extra life… Well, it’s not always that clear.

This game isn’t for long time play. Since it’s very repetitive. There is some variation with the different fish you can play, but it’s always the same thing.

After a while, I actually muted the music. In my honest opinion, the music was kind of bland.

Conclusion

This is the sort of game I play when I have nothing to do or don’t feel like playing big triple A games. Games that I play when I have some time to kill.

PopCap, the publishers of this game, made some amazing games and this is one of them. If I had to give this game a score, I would give it: 7/10.

The big thing that is keeping this game back is the repetitiveness of this game. The other things are things you can fix with a sequel and/or a patch.

In any case, thanks for reading this short article about Feeding Frenzy 2. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope to welcome you at another article in the future! But until then, have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: The Walking Dead – Season 1 (PC) ~ Overhyped?

TWD-game-cover

Official website

Deep breaths, Jonez, deep breaths. I might have to hide after this first impression or a horde of fanboys might come and attack and bite me. I’m scared to talk about my first impression with this game. I just finished the first chapter out of five from this game and it’s not what I expected. I’m going to warn you, this game might shock people, and this first impression might give me tons of bad comments. But please, keep in mind that this is my opinion on it and if you want to discuss my opinion, do it in a civilized manner. We have to stick together when we try to survive the horde of bad games lately. I got this game a week ago for an extremely low price. And it’s an adventure game from TellTale, a company that made the excellent Tales Of Monkey Island. And point-&-click / adventure games are my favorite genre ever. But does this game live up to the hype I created for myself or was this a big mistake to hype? Well, let’s make the harsh decision and let’s take a look at it. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game or / and this article. 

The story, such a weird thing. 

2290916-the_walking_dead_05194_screen

Indeed, used a screenshot from GameSpot

Yesterday, I recorded a podcast with Q about this and I already talked about this. Because I was able to verify my fears, I think I can talk about this with more comfort. The story of the Walking Dead game isn’t as good as people claim it to be.

Don’t get me wrong. The setting and idea behind it is pretty nice but there are a few things that made me shake my head pretty bad. There are some major flaws with the story.

The first thing were this game falls flat on it’s face is the fact that you know that there is going to be a victim. Sometimes you have the illusion that you can choose while in reality, the outcome doesn’t change.

Some choices just give you a different dialogue part while the main storyline is pretty much the same.  I can be wrong on this but from what I have played, my impression isn’t the greatest in terms of story.

Most characters die a bit too quickly as well. You barely get any connection time and a poof, they are death. And that is just lame in my opinion.

The second thing that makes me not really like the story is the fact that it exists out of some cliche things. Arguments and zombie attacks. Some things happen to have some gameplay but don’t make sense story wise. There is a moment were you are a in heated argument, somebody collapses and you are allowed to take charge. Ehrm, is it just me or did we make an awkward jump in terms of story here?

Something else that bugs me quite a lot is the fact that you are on a quick time limit. I understand the idea behind it, in real life and at those moments you wouldn’t have time to think about it as well… But when you play through the game for the first time it’s just a annoying thing. Since you barely get any time to read each option. And by the time you have read them, you have to decide quickly before you stay silent or do nothing.

Is the story bad? No, it isn’t bad. It has it’s memorable moments. The writing is nicely done but the execution isn’t the best for a game. I always feel that some main story is taking place and that you simply decides which character is going to die now or later on the road.

And the rest?

The-Walking-Dead-Game-Dev-Wants-Suggestions-for-Potential-Second-Season-2Usually I keep my story segment short, but for this game, I made an exception. Honestly, I think that the story isn’t the strong point of the game. The gameplay is. The last thing I’m going to say about the story is that for what I have seen now, the characters are a bit … well, paper thin. Like in episode two, suddenly another guy popped up out of nowhere. No explanation at the start. Just poof, he is a part of the group.

Anyways, enough “ranting” about the story. Let’s talk controls. And they are awkward at best for adventure game veterans. The simple fact you need to scroll when you want to talk or use an item on somebody is unnatural. Nearly every adventure / point-&-click game have a handy inventory where you can drop and drop the items from.

It’s possible to get used to the controls but with some animation flaws, they aren’t pretty good. Try holding the arrow keys and walk into the wall. Yes, the old shacking screen is there. TellTale, you disappoint me here. I know you guys can do better!

Do I have different complaints about the Walking Dead? Yes, yes I have. I’m under the impression that this game is quite short. A normal adventure game takes you on a lengthy adventure that takes you in tons of different places. But after a small 1,5 hours I was done with the first out of 5 chapters. Hearing from a close friend of mine, who has beaten the whole first season, each chapter is around 1,5 hours long. And trust me, veteran adventure gamers won’t get stuck easily. So, a short 5 – 10 hour game. That’s something I finish in an afternoon, and that’s not such a good thing for an adventure game.

So, this first impression sounds extremely negative. It’s almost like I’m about to say that this is a bad game. And trust me, it isn’t. This game suffers from too much hype. Everybody talks how awesome and amazing this game is and don’t look at the flaws this game has. While this game has flaws, it doesn’t make this game a bad game. The charm of the game is that the flaws get hidden behind a well crafted game. I have to give TellTale that.

The story has good voice acting and is graphically extremely well done.

Thinking about it, this game is actually more meant to be discussed with friends. Also, watching to a let’s play of this game is a tad bit more enjoyable then actually playing it. Since the surprise of what’s going to happen is then lost. I’ll finish this game for sure and I’ll write a full review about it. By then my opinion might have changed. And then I will also talk about some other things I didn’t had the time to put in this article.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. I’m working on a few new articles and I hope to see you guys there. Be sure to also check out the podcast I did with Allahweh! It’s the previous article.