Review by DasaniMan

"One of the best."

Many are familiar with the survival horror genre. When mention of this category comes up, one can probably hear the titles Resident Evil and Silent Hill coming up in the conversation. To me, one of the greatest misfortunes in video game history is that Fatal Frame, a unique survival horror game from TECMO, has not gotten the attention it deserves. Having played Resident Evil, I can say that Fatal Frame beats out the well- known title to just about every way.

Graphics: Survival horror games usually light up in the graphics department, with the excellent use of lighting and bizarre visual effects and imagery. Fatal Frame is no exception. Let me start by saying that the lighting in this game is the best I have ever seen, with thousands of shadows and other effects bouncing off the walls, all according to specific light sources. It is one of the most astonishing effects I have ever seen in a game, and it supports the game's moody and disturbing atmosphere. The characters models are well done, with the ghosts in particular being exceptionally well-crafted. The ghosts in this game are disturbing and shocking effects, with simple details used to convey the most startling effects. When a ghost grabs you and drains your health, the screen exhibits the best effect I have ever seen in a game. Also, the cutscenes are very well done, and each are given the same amount of care and detail, creating one of the best atmospheres in the history of gaming. Excellent! 9-10.

Sound: This is one of the few games that I have actually listened to the sound, as it further heightens the experience given by this game. Moans and chants echo in the distance, as an ominous threat. The sound of your footsteps are heard through the halls. Music cues come in to the fullest effect. Dialogue is done well, with no faults at all. While there isn't really any real music in the game, it creates an even better atmosphere with the sound turned way up, and the lights turned way down. 9-10.

Gameplay: From what you have read, you can get the feeling that I enjoy this game. It is the best survival horror game ever created. As your character explores the vast Himuro Mansion, they discover a devious and disturbing past that will haunt every player. Ghosts, both vanishing and attacking, pop up wherever you go. To attack the many ghosts that appear, you need help from the Camera Obscura, which, by taking pictures of the ghosts, allows you to seal their souls. This is done from the first person view, and is used very effectively. By holding the lens on the ghost for a period of time, a meter builds up, allow for more hit points on the ghost. This is implemented so well you cannot even imagine! There are also special upgrades you can get for your camera, but they are not necessary to complete the game, a minor fault. The point about this game is the scare factor, which, on a scale of 1-10, goes up to 11! The cutscenes in this game are disturbing and glorious works of art, and will cause nightmares. The overall atmosphere in this game is so impressive, it is very intimidating to play through. This is one of the best! 9-10.

Replay value: Pretty good for a survival horror title. For one , you get an alternate ending if you play through the game a second time on Nightmare difficulty. To be honest, the alternate ending does not differ much from the original ending, a minor disappointment. Also, the nightmare difficulty is not nearly as hard to play through as one would be led to believe. These are minor contrivances, however. Also featured is a battle mode, where you can battle the ghosts from the game. There are also alternate costumes as well. Pretty impressive. 8-10.

To buy or rent: From what I have said in this review, this is an obvious answer. If you are any kind of fan of survival horror, or any kind of video game fan at all, BUY THIS GAME IMMEDIATELY! This game is hard to find, however. I had to buy it off of the Internet, for a relatively high price for a game that is over a year old. Still, for those who can find it, this game is very worth it, and is a well spent investment.

+ Excellent graphics
+ Excellent sound
+ Excellent atmosphere
+ Excellent use of the camera
+ Excellent gameplay overall

- Special upgrades not implemented to fullest potential
- A little too short: 8-10 hours the first time through.

This is a must have. If you look at my other reviews, you can see that I do not give away high scores easily. The fact that this game has not gotten enough attention in a travesty. Looks this game up, and maybe it will get the recognition it deserves. People may enjoy the Resident Evil or Silent Hill series, but the king of all survival horror games to me will always be Fatal Frame. And that is my two cents.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/10/04

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