Review by Mysticcat

"Want to test your bravery ? Fatal Frame is your choice !"

I have just purchased this game after returning another disappointing game. At that time, I wasn't sure if Fatal Frame could have satisfied me or not. So I didn't hope too much at this game. But once I tried it, I have realized what was the real horror. This game seemed vulgar at first look, but now I think it's not vulgar anyway. ''The scariest game ever...'' - I agree with that idea. Fatal Frame, not only its first look, but its gameplay characteristics are vulgar and simple as well. But you couldn't describe the true feeling when playing it if you didn't play it. This game was advertised to be a survival horror game like Silent Hill's style, but when you play it, I think you'll find its own style. I have played the game and I don't feel any sense of Silent Hill. It's completely different. The official horror of Silent Hill is not the same with the mystical horror of Fatal Frame. That's my opinion, and I don't agree with those who say that Fatal Frame is Silent Hill's clone. Besides, I also see that Fatal Frame is a great game about graphic. Let's analyze it step-to-step :

Gameplay 9/10
It has been a long time since I last saw a game with pretty high gameplay: Devil May Cry. But now Fatal Frame has appeared to show me that there's still something interesting in my game world. I'm a gamer who likes to try my bravery with horror games, and I have done this tons of times with Resident Evil series, Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill series. And now my collection is added with Fatal Frame. As I said above, Fatal Frame has an own style of survival horror. The more I try it, the more I am attracted to the mystical story of the game, along with the fear of ghosts and demons. Although I love horror games, I am myself not very brave against ghosts. But all my fears are wiped out when playing this game, no matter how terrible the ghosts look. The horrors come when you suddenly see ghosts passing, or they appear just in front of you when you are opening door, or they pursue behind you... Various kinds of horrors are all gathered in this game. Sometimes it's just a shaking object when you walk past it, which is enough to scare or startle some players. Along with this, you can also hear the plaintive cries of the ghosts who need your helps, as they have ever been living, which increases the horror of the game. Most of the ghosts are related to the storyline, so they often leave clues whenever they pass over you, which pulls out your curiosity though. It's hard to describe the feeling to play this game. I just want to replay the game to find out if I were still scared. And I'll do it. Besides, Fatal Frame was also done along with secrets and sidequests. You find and do sidequests to grab extra stuffs and extra ghosts to fulfill your ghost collection. You can unlock new modes and secrets after beating something. That means it make you have more reasons to replay the game, but in the new environment of the secrets you have unlocked. In addition, the design and images of this game are pretty good-looking : the colours are clear and true, while the images and menu screen design are very good, which attracts my eyes though.

Storyline 10/10
At first, Fatal Frame's storyline was said to base on a true story happened in Japan. This has proved for us the creation of the authors to make a fantastic game like this on a base of a true story. In my opinion, this ''true story'' is not bad compared to Resident Evil series or Koudelka, because of its mystery, its logical events and finally, there are still some puzzling events for us players to think of the solutions by ourselves. That means the author has made the story not only to make the game more exciting, but also challenge us players and give us some lesson as well, just like Silent Hill's storyline gives you different choices in life by the different endings. The whole story is covered by the mystery of Himuro Mansion and strange bloody rituals in which a woman was killed to be sacrificed. It was truly a sudden that the ghost of that woman was very your ultimate boss and you are guided to her by very your brother. Then those whose deaths are related to the rituals, all became ghosts who haunts the Himuro mansion and... you. Most parts of the storyline are not shown clearly, as you learnt them from files. But that's so enough for you to recall the horrible events happened. I really like this story. Good job, Tecmo !

Characters 9/10
The characters' designs in Fatal Frame are good-looking and pretty lively. But the faces of some female characters are fairly similar, and Mafuyu looks so feminile. They are the weak points of this game's drawing. But in general, it's good. Kirie's design is really cool to me !

Battle System 9/10
This battle is so called simple, but unique : Your life is measured by a lifebar, and your only weapon is a magical camera. I say ''unique'', because have you ever thought that a camera could be a weapon before playing this game ? Besides, the idea to use various type of films as ''ammunition'' is strange and interesting though. Ghosts - your enemies - are afraid of flash light, and you use cameras to get rid of them. Besides the function to battle, the camera can be used to take shots of wandering ghosts to fill up your ghost collection. Is that fun ? This also partly increases the quality of gameplay. About your camera, you can also level it up and enhance it like you do with the weapons in common RPGs. You can even cause ''status abnormalities'' on ghosts with your lovely camera. So funny right ? In spite of simple battle system, that doesn't mean this game is ''kidding'' like some people say. You may think that the given lifebar is too spare to die. But let's try with some more attacking ghosts, you'll realize that even the simplest ghost can kill you though. One of their attacks can take at least 1/4 your lifebar. That's AT LEAST. Well, want to try ?

Enemies 9/10
One of the reason why I'm fond of Fatal Frame, cuz it's one of the rare game whose enemies are traditional ghosts : the spirits risen from the dead people, especially those who have got unclean deaths. This kind of enemies is very familiar with us in tales. But it's hard to show this invisible enemy on game. But Fatal Frame has succeeded in doing it, and these enemies became very lively and scary in the game. Ghosts in other games I have ever played don't scare me even a little, but it seems that the ghosts in Fatal Frame has been able to do that. Besides, Tecmo was talented to decide the main ghosts to be very the characters involved in the story, along with some random ghosts of the mansion, then partly build up the great storyline.

Scare Level 10/10
Yeah, it's the scariest game ever... I agree with that review. Before trying Fatal Frame, I did think that Silent Hill series may be the scariest game in the game world. But once I play Fatal Frame, I know that Silent Hill has no match with Fatal Frame about scare level. Although both Fatal Frame and Silent Hill were created from the dark background and frustrating enemies, Silent Hill's mystery can't be compared to Fatal Frame's. The fantasy in Silent Hill is realistic and modern, but the one in Fatal Frame is mysterious and belongs to old time. Mystery is always my favourite style of games, so then Fatal Frame must attract me more. The startling you get in in Silent Hill, I assure, is not as tough as the one you take from Fatal Frame. Don't believe ? Just try it. In Fatal Frame, even a child ghost who doesn't look any horrible can scare you though, and sometimes that one who scares you can be Miku's brother too (Don't understand ? Just play the game.)

Graphic 10/10
This is one of the best things I saw from Fatal Frame. I have already known the fact that Playstation2 console is worse than GameCube and Xbox at the full anti-aliasing ability. But look at Fatal Frame, and show me where the aliasing is. I have never thought that an average company like Tecmo could create a clear and beautiful game like that. The graphic and the sceneries are very nice and bright. The characters, Mafuyu, Miku, and even long-haired Kirie, are drawn very sharply and lively, and there's almost no aliasing or hard drawing on them, and so are their actions. We mostly control Miku during the game, and I can see how lively she is : Whenever you face ghosts or you pass some objects, Miku automatically turns her head and pays attention to them like real person does. When she gets hurt too much, she breaths quickly with the injury, and walks more slowly. The characters in Fatal Frame don't look inconsiderate and dispirited like the ones in some other games. The sceneries are perfect, and I have nothing to approve about the graphic of this game. The colours are mixed very suitably, creating the horror but beautiful backgrounds. I think Fatal Frame's graphic is even more realistic than the ''fancy'' Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy X is just beautiful, but not very realistic, while Fatal Frame is not only lively but also beautiful enough. The characters in Final Fantasy X still have a long way to go to become as lively and realistic as the ones in Fatal Frame. I do feel Deception III's sense in Fatal Frame, but I couldn't believe that Fatal Frame has made a far jump like this, especially the graphic. Deception III's graphic was not very good and it has no match with Fatal Frame's, but now Fatal Frame has satisfied me more than I expected. Besides, the mansion design in Fatal Frame is also very cool and mysterious, as great as Resident Evil or Devil May Cry, or even better about mystery level.

Sound 9/10
The sound in this game is not so excellent as Resident Evil's, but great and realistic enough to create the survival horror. The sounds of footsteps and devices are correct, lively and various. Your footsteps' sounds usually change in different areas, depending on the what the floors are made of. The starting music sounds good too. That's so great to me. But what I adore most is the way Tecmo creates the sounds. In other survival games I have played, the horrors can be expressed by many ways, mostly background music and the monsters' footsteps. But in Fatal Frame, background music is not the main reason of horror, and the enemies' footsteps are completely not (Ghosts can't make sound on footsteps). The cries of dead spirits, the anger of ghosts, the curses of the characters, etc covering the mansion are the elements creating the horror. Some ghosts may not scare you, but their cries may, among the dark background. Whenever you face a ghost, a noisy and terrible sound suddenly appears that increases the scare too. One of the things I like of Fatal Frame's sound system is the voice though. The voice actors and actresses have performed very well. The narrations of the characters are expressed pretty clearly and beautifully. The English speaking of the actors/actresses are truly standard.

Secrets 9/10
At least, the secrets in Fatal Frame are not stupid like some of the ones I saw in some other games. You can get extra stuffs and even capture extra ghosts, which you do not often pay attention to in the first try. Then once you complete the game once, you unlock a new costume, a battle mini-game and harder mode, and you can have choice to start the game with the stuffs you have collected in the first try. I think that's so enough for a game like Fatal Frame.

Replay Value 8/10
As I told you, you are never true Fatal Frame player if you have just completed the game once. As I wrote in the ''Secrets'' part, you should test your skills in a different environment, and try your effort in a harder mode. And besides, sweep all the subquests, items and ghosts during the game to become the expert of Fatal Frame. There you have more reasons to replay this game, and it's completely worth.

Fatal Frame is a great masterpiece of Tecmo, made for Playstation2 system. The game belongs to Adventure/Survival Horror genre. It'll give you many funs as well as fears during the adventure, as many previewers have said : ''The scariest game ever...''. That's a correct idea. I can make sure to you that many people I know have despised Silent Hill to be kidding, but their fears have to wake up when they play Fatal Frame, and it's true. Let's take control of the Hinasaki brother and sister and find out the true fear of Fatal Frame.

- Has high scare level and can cause very high fear.
- Excellent storyline and events.
- Unique and good battle system.
- Graphic is very impressive and realistic.
- Cool mansion design.
- Sounds are lively and be able to cause fear effect.
- Good secrets and extra subquests.
- Pretty high replay value.

- There should be more places to visit :)

Gameplay : 9
Storyline : 10
Characters : 9
Battle System : 9
Enemies : 9
Scare Level : 10
Graphic : 10
Sound : 9
Secrets : 9
Replay Value : 8
Overall Score : 9/10 (not an average)

Overall sentence : Fatal Frame is the game that determines your true bravery.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/25/02, Updated 02/04/03

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