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    dkirschner's Fatal Frame (PS2)

    [June 30, 2018 03:24:45 PM]
    I got this cool RCA --> HDMI adapter off Amazon that lets me play PS2 on my newfangled TV. It should also work with Wii, so I've been accumulating Wii games to exhaust that system now that I'm done with PS3 and Xbox 360. Fatal Frame was the last PS2 game I had, but I acquired a stack of Final Fantasy games, including V and VI (PS1), which will work with my new combo, so I'm also excited to see SNES era Final Fantasy games that I never played.

    ANYWAY. Fatal Frame. I had a girlfriend once who was always talking about this game. She liked horror games. We had an Xbox version that we never played. At some point I bought a PS2 version, no idea why. I didn't even know I still had it, but I was cleaning and found it.

    ANYWAY again. Fatal Frame has some serious pros and some serious cons.


    - The atmosphere is terrifying. The game is set in a haunted old Japanese mansion. Creaky. Falling apart. The site of horrific rituals. Mean ghosts. The visuals and audio hold up surprisingly well. After I heard how good the sound design was, I played with headphones on. Good choice. It's totally haunting. Very immersive.

    - It FEELS like survival horror games of the era (e.g., Silent Hill, Resident Evil). This is both good and bad. For example, the controls are tough to handle, but for the beginning of the game, it's not too hindering. As you walk, the fixed camera angles will change, forcing you to reorient yourself before you accidentally walk back where you came from or run into a wall or an enemy. The game is very dark, which makes your flashlight especially important. Right, this is all nostalgic in a good sort of way. But, it is bad because (see con 3).

    - Puzzles and story. Thoroughly enjoyable puzzles to move the story forward. They haven't been difficult so far, but I'm sure they get a little harder. It's how the story uses puzzles that's really cool. So for example, one thing I picked up on is that the game centers around the "strangling ritual," which is basically that a sacrifice victim is drawn and quartered...well, no, fifthed (add the head)...with ropes tied around the to-be-removed body parts. In the game, you have to find five shattered mirror pieces and put them together. Puzzles are replete with Japanese folklore and imagery. The first mirror piece you've got to find a Buddha statue, and solving this puzzle reveals where some missing children have gone to, who were playing something called "demon tag," which is like a Japanese version of tag where "it" is a demon. Anyway, I enjoyed how steeped in Japanese folklore the game is. Really added to the atmosphere.


    - Voice acting is generally bad. Par for the course for Japanese survival horror from this era though. The ghosts sound good, but the humans do not. Very flat and emotionless. Slow talkers.

    - Combat. Combat in the game involves pointing your Camera Obscura at a ghost, holding the targeting circle over the ghost as it moves and as your shot powers up, and then pushing X when you want to attack (or square when the circle turns orange for a critical hit). I like the combat for its novelty and how scary it can be, but hate it for other overwhelming reasons. The ghosts are extremely irritating enemies. Yeah, they're scary, but as I played more and more, they became more annoying than scary. They disappear and reappear on another side of you, become untargetable, move through solid objects, and take a large chunk of your life per hit. Each hit slows you, and since you may be disoriented from a fixed camera shift (see below) it's not unlikely you'll get grabbed again quickly before you figure out which direction to run. Add to that limited healing supplies, and this became so tedious.

    - As you progress, the clunky controls (a) break the immersion and (b) get you killed. Here's a prime example in combat: As you run from an enemy, the fixed camera will change positions, which sometimes makes you run in a direction that you don't want to go. Trying to control your character in tense moments breaks immersion. Add ghost teleportation in the mix, and the controls become extremely frustrating when you are hit and die because the camera keeps changing and the ghosts keep disappearing and reappearing. Worse, the sound doesn’t accurately tell you what direction ghosts are coming from because often the sound will change with the camera angle and not the ghost direction! You literally can't tell when this is happening when you're in camera mode because it's first-person and you don't see the camera shift. The ghost noises just seem to spin around you, then a ghost will kill you from behind when you were listening to the ghost sound coming from in front of you.

    Add into that how the controls change while using the camera! You normally move with LS and look around with the flashlight with RS, like every other game. But for some reason when you go into the camera mode, LS moves the camera, and RS moves the character. I cannot tell you how many times I was hit and/or died because I'd go into camera mode and walk into a ghost when I meant to move the camera up, or moved the camera around when I meant to run away. It makes no sense! And you can't change it!

    I had a harsh lesson in manual save points (and Fatal Frame's combat) the first time I played. I hadn't seen a save point in an hour and then got killed by a ghost. Had to play the first 45 minutes or so, after the tutorial, all over again. That repeated over and over, the dying, if not with so long between saves. I made it about 30% of the way through and figured I'd gotten the gist of it. Read the rest of the story and watched the ending bits on YouTube. Glad I played a little bit of Fatal Frame. Also glad to cut it short.
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    dkirschner's Fatal Frame (PS2)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got frustrated

    GameLog started on: Thursday 28 June, 2018

    GameLog closed on: Saturday 30 June, 2018

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Hopefully it's still creepy and holds up well! ----------- Definitely still creepy. Parts hold up. Hated the combat though.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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