Everyone I know has played or seen Resident Evil at some point in time. It is what I would define as the start of the horror game as a full genre. While I can’t name any other games that I would place squarely in this genre like I would do with Resident Evil, the RE games have had more than enough success on their own to warrant Horror games as a separate genre. While I can’t say that I love horror games, cuz I don’t, I will say that they can be enjoyable as a group activity. Fatal Frame was exactly that. Soda brought it over we played it for a few hours on a Thursday night. It wasn’t since Soda and Pickle tricked me into playing the hallway part with the Licker in RE2 back on the PSX that I actually jumped at something I saw in a video game.
Upon starting the game you are introduced to the story and the premise of the game, which is all done thru phenomenal looking cut scenes. You play a character that is searching for her brother who has disappeared while learning about a family that had performed some questionable rituals. The family lived in a large Mansion that is now abandoned and feared by the locals. In order to piece the story together, you collect journals, audio tapes, and film as you use your camera to absorb ghosts when attacked. The camera plays many roles that will be explained as the game progresses. The journal pages and audio tapes will be direct clues as to the fate of your brother and his group.
I played the game on both PS2 and Xbox about 2 weeks apart. The PS2 scenes were unbelievable when I first saw them, and then I played it on Xbox and it was even more impressive. The actual in game graphics are so crisp and clear that when the actual gameplay started I was still sitting there waiting for the FMV to finish. The entire game that I have played up until this point has taken place inside an abandoned Mansion so the shadows and lighting are a huge factor and have been done very accurately. I just can’t stress enough how impressive the graphics work in the game is. Everyone knows that graphics are not everything and that gameplay has a huge role in the success of a game. Let’s take a look at some of the things that I think make the gameplay in Fatal Frame great.
As of late I feel like my main complaint with all the games that I have been playing has been the wild camera that swings around behind your character. This is not a problem in FF as it’s a fixed view style game much like Resident Evil. You do have the ability to switch to first person and look thru the viewfinder of the camera which can help you see things that the fixed view makes difficult. Given that I am not big into the RE games, the fixed camera annoyed me at first, but it gave that eerie feel when you would walk into a room and not know what to expect. The sound accompanied the game very well. The music added suspense and created the whole envir
ment that made the game truly worth playing.
I am not sure if I should attribute this to the suspense created by the game or my own apparent lack of mastery of the controls, but I felt like every time a ghost would jump out, I was fumbling to hit the buttons to pull out the camera and take its picture. This doesn’t even account for the ghosts that appear for a split second for photo ops that give you bonus points. On top of that, the ghost is generally very freaky looking and right up in your face. The whole thing gives an unsettling sense of panic. I guess that means the suspense has been properly done. The controls were really not that complex; I was just caught totally off guard by the ghosts every time. The game is really not that difficult either, at least not in the early stages of the game. It is a lot of flip this switch, go there and do this, read this and figure out this puzzle, but it was quite enjoyable.
I have to say that I was immensely impressed with Fatal Frame as a whole. I think each and every part of the game was well thought out and planned just right. It is definitely a great addition to the genre of horror games. If you enjoyed any of the Resident Evil games or enjoy watching games as movies (while someone else plays them) like my wife does then do yourself a favor and pick up Fatal Frame. I did notice that a sequel is coming out this fall for PS2 only and I could only find used copies of the game at EB, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the story this game has to offer.