Fatal Frame II is a horror game set in a lost village. You play as Mio who becomes trapped in a village with her sister Mayu. The village’s population disappeared during a sacred ceremony. Armed with only a camera you must face the ghosts, solve the mystery of this village and get out alive with Mayu.For any game to look believable its graphics have to be top notch; even more so in a horror game. Fatal Frame II did a decent job. First take the setting, in this case a village. Each of the buildings looks warn and old. The atmosphere is dark and the weather is complete with fog, rain, thunder, and lightning. Mio and Mayu look believable as humans and they both have realistic expressions and movements. Now the main stars of the game are the various ghosts. Some are corporeal, and many are of course incorporeal. The ghosts float in the air, drag along the ground, and manage to scare the pants off the player.
The next thing that enhances the effect of any game is sound. The background music is set to enhance the atmosphere and does it wonderfully. The sound effects are used to chilling effect, from howling wind to creaking doors. The ghosts have all the moans and groans that one would expect. The voice work is top notch and really flushes out the twins. The work on the radio is just plain spooky.
Unlike a certain survival horror series, the movement in Fatal Frame II is rather free and unobtrusive. Random puzzles are scattered here and there throughout the game. The main feature of the game is the Camera Obscura, which is the main tool in Mio’s ghost busting. When in use the view finder mode turns the game into a first person shooter so to speak. In the viewfinder mode the controls switch and become much like any FPS, which is appropriate in this case. Other things that enhance gameplay are the upgrades you can add to the camera, which include increased power, range, and special effects. Throughout the villages are notes and journals that give the player clues about what happened to the village and it’s inhabitants.
The game offers two difficulty modes of play, and the option to take many photos of the village and save them to view later may be enough for some to continue playing. Fatal Frame II has a moderate game time, but can be completed in a few days. The average player may not want to play through this game a second time.
The pros include beautiful graphics and sound, a haunting story and ease of control. The cons are a near lack of replay value, and the method for saving photos is complex and time consuming. The major con comes into play while in the viewfinder mode; it is easy to back yourself into a corner and become trapped.
In the end, Fatal Frame II is a beautiful game. The game manages to combine 3rd and 1st person gameplay into a nice package containing a haunting story and excellent graphics and sound. There are some minor issues with the camera, but they don’t hinder the gameplay. This is a game to be played in a dark room but the player may want a friend to be around encase they get frighten from playing too long. Also the player shouldn’t rush through the game, they’ll miss some of the nice extra touches that the game has to offer.
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