Review by wolverinefan

Reviewed: 02/21/06

A creepy game and one of the best in it's genre this generation.

I rented Fatal Frame when it first came out. I loved it but wasn't able to beat it in the rental period. I finally got the game for Christmas in 2005 and I just now got around to playing it. Heck, I would have owned it sooner but I could never find it when I had money. Now that I've beat the game, I must say it was maybe the best survival horror title this generation.

Miyu enters this mansion in the middle of nowhere to find her brother. She's knows that he is in there but can't find him. She finds a camera that looks like the one that her mother owned. She starts to see ghost and starts to unravel a mystery that the mansion has held for many years. The story is told through notes and flashbacks. There isn't a ton of character development for our main character but it is enough and the main focus is all about the ritual. Having finished the sequel before this (no real connection) I must say that the story is much better this time around.

Fatal Frame offers solid graphics. Character models look nice in game and look great during the cut scenes. Miyu's brother is kind of bland in the face area but that isn't too big of a problem. The setting is very well done, lots of lighting effects, dark halls and creepy ghosts. What I really liked is the subtle changes to the areas as you play the game.

The sound area really impressed me in this game. The music is creepy and moody and fits the moments of the game but music doesn't always play. A slight humming sound happens when near something that requires your attention, more like static than a buzzing I guess. Ghosts scream, beckon ect. Voice acting is top notch and while lip sync is a bit off, it's good enough. Floors and doors creak, footsteps change from wood, to stone to ground. All nicely done.

Fatal Frame ditches the stiff Resident Evil controls and goes with a more fluid control feel. You hit circle to bring out the camera and put it away. X to shoot a picture. Square is run and well that is pretty much all you need. It's simple to get the hang of and while the character of the opening runs very slow, Miyu moves fine. There is some minor slow down but nothing too bad. If you've played Silent Hill and didn't use the Resident Evil controls then you know how this game will handle.

The whole point of Fatal Frame is to find Miyu's brother. The entire game takes place in two areas. The mansion and the courtyard. What I found interesting is that the mansion feels and looks like a mansion. It's full of so many different paths and secret passageways that it feels a lot bigger than it actually is. The courtyard adds a nice change to the looks and while it is small, it really adds a nice touch to the game.

As in any survival horror game you must survive through out it all. Miyu has a health bar. It takes a decent amount of hits to kill her. There is a good amount of healing items to help you along and there is a certain item that can bring you back to life if you're dead and you will want one of those for the final boss, trust me. Save points are random cameras placed around the mansion. It doesn't require film or anything like that. Film is one thing that makes this game hard. there are 3 or 4 different types of film to use, each deals better damage than the last. The thing is you need film to advance the story because there are key spots that need to be photographed (a blue thing appears on the screen, showing that one is near you). Not only that but film is used for fighting and to capture the random spirits in the game.

The game features 108 spirits to collect. I don't know how many I got but I got over half I'm sure. Some will randomly run by and you have just seconds to capture them. The falling woman was kind of creepy and took me by surprised so I missed her.. There is also a photo album option that allows you to store the pictures you take. I didn't use that feature but there were some pictures I could have kept since they were fairly cool.

Fighting in the game is kind of tough at times. A blue circle appears around the ghost when you have it in your sights. Hold it the camera on it and it will turn orange and do more damage. So ghosts teleport around, go through floors, dash at you, appear out of nowhere ect. The game really keeps you on your toes. The bosses are kind of fast and put up a good fight. I've always had trouble on the boss at the end of Night 1. Also, you can upgrade your camera and buy new abilities for it by using points. Points are given for the final amount of damage that you deal to a spirit. It can make you take a picture faster ect. A nice feature and the extra options to attach are nice.

The game also has the staple for the genre. Find x item to move on. Now, like I stated before you need to take pictures of different things and they will reveal something else that you need to take a picture of. Finally it opens a door. You will also needs keys and mirror shards and what not. I found the game to be kind of linear in that but it also felt very open ended because you didn't always know exactly where to go.

For once a survival horror game offers more replay value than the rest. Upon beating the game you unlock secret costumes, battle mode, ghost list and I think one other thing. Now beat the 20 mission battle mode to unlock nightmare mode (hard mode for the game). From there you can beat nightmare mode to unlock the true ending. That's a lot to do and the true ending is a great reason to beat the game again.

So, is this game a rental? Well, it is kind of short. Around 5 hours but it also offers a good amount of replay. I also find this game to be one of the scariest around. I just find ghost stories to be creepy and this game offers by far one of the best stories in a survival horror game. It all works out nicely and I personally didn't run into any noticeable plot holes but I'm sure someone can prove my wrong on that.... I say buy the game if you can find it and if you are a fan of the genre. Otherwise rent it if possible because it's a fun experience.

Story - 9/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Control - 10/10
Game Play - 9/10
Replay value - 8/10

Final Score - 9/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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