Review by sullman
"Fatal Frame is a must have for any fan of survival horror."
INTRO and BACKGROUND:
I just bought Fatal Frame yesterday and when I first popped the game in I was rather disappointed and thought when I really started playing I would hate it.Boy was I wrong.Fatal Frame is a game based on some truth about a haunted house in Japan.You play as a 17 y.o Japanese girl named Miku.Miku heads to the house after her brother disappeared from there 9 days ago.I smell trouble already.Fatal Frame is not your normal survival horror game.There are no zombies,monsters,aliens or anything else to blast a hole in with a shotgun or handgun.The enemies in Fatal Frame are Ghosts and are already dead so not to much a gun will do you.You are armed with only a special mystical camera which traps the ghosts inside of it.This comes from an old legend about ghosts and cameras where you can trap their essence on film.Sounded lame huh?Believe me it's not.You can upgrade your camera by using points you get for taking pictures of the secret ghosts and getting damage points from the ghosts you battle.Like an RPG you use the points to upgrade your ''weapon''.You can make your frame wider to get the ghost in it easier,make the frame rate faster and upgrade it with other assorted things.
Like typical survival horror games you find notes that explain some things that are going on around you,solve puzzles to advance through certain doors,need to find keys etc,etc.Tecmo relies heavy on the fact that their game is based on fact giving the gamer more of a psychological effect.You find notes and newspaper clippings,some real,some not that gives you a little history of the happenings of the house.Some of it is pretty sick considering its based on fact.The game relies on suspension and the gamers mind messing with him/her.The game isn't full of fright at first and it kind of lures the gamer into a false sense of security then it gets creepier and creepier as it goes along.
The gameplay in Fatal Frame is almost typical survival horror as control goes.Use the square button to run or should I say jog.(Miku runs like she has a wedgie and she runs slow).Use the left analog to move her along and the right analog to move your flash light around.Now the tricky part is the battle system.When you encounter a ghost or ghosts you need to push the O button and it takes you into a First Person mode with your character looking through the camera.You use the left stick to move the camera,the right to move Miku,the R1 or X button to take a picture and the square to move the camera quicker.So in turn during battle it becomes sort of a first person shooter.You need to get the ghost in the frame at the right time to inflict damage on the ghosts.It might take some getting use to but the first couple of Ghosts you encounter don't really pose any serious damage,but you better get the battle system down though as you encounter some ghosts that can take you down with 2-3 hits.
The graphics in Fatal Frame are pretty good.They use the grain filter to create the same eerie effect as in Silent Hill 2.The rooms are well detailed the lighting effects are well done.The ghosts designs are great.They are really creepy giving the game that eerie feeling.The character animations are awsome.Since Miku is only a 17 y.o girl thrown into a haunted house she's scared as hell.Her knees buckle when she's hit and takes awhile to recover,she covers her face when scared.All seamingly realistic reactions.The FMV's are cool.They actually got the fear in the characters faces down pat.The camera angles change everytime you re-enter a room which is a nice change of pace in the survival horror games.Since you have to back track the new camera angle raises the tension as if something will happen.
The sound is the bread and butter of Fatal Frame.They use all sorta back ground noises to try to freak you out.One such thing is after finding a pretty gruesome pic of someone you encounter his ghost who is pretty ticked off about what is in the pic.I wont give it away but its creepy.You'll hear ghosts moaning in the background,chains rattling and all that great stuff.Some good stuff is you can hear some kind of really ticked off demon or ghost making some really crazy noises in some parts,a woman moaning something about trying to fid her face(I can only imagine)and the crys of children.They could have gotten a better sound out of Miku's run though,the sound doesn't seem to go with her stride and it just doesn't sound to good.The music is creepy and goes great with the game.
Overall Fatal Frame is a good survival horror game.Any fan of survival horror will love Fatal Frame as it has all the survival horror classics like searching and puzzle solving.For those looking to blast apart zombies and aliens this isnt for you.There is really no blood effect in the game,ghosts dont bleed of course,and I assume they scare Miku to death since she doesn't bleed either.There is some of that in some FMV as you see some rope marks go around someones neck.Fatal Frame is a good change of pace from the classic survival horror using the whole ghost thing nicely.There's really no boo effect though like in Resident Evil,No ghosts crashing through windows they just walk right through the walls and make no noise doing so.The game relies on you creating your own fear with your mind and the games eerie feeling.This game is a good game with about 15 hours of gameplay and some replay value with some bonus features.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/07/02, Updated 03/07/02
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