Project Zero 2: Wii Edition
Developer: Tecmo Koei
Release Date: June 28, 2012
Project Zero 2, or Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly, is a game that originally came out in 2003 on Playstation 2, with a ‘director’s cut’ released on Xbox in 2004, and finally now in 2012 for Wii. It has been acknowledged as one of the scariest horror games, which is no surprise given that it is done in the Japanese horror style. So how does it compare in this remake? Does the Wii help or hinder this game?
Project Zero 2 has the same basic storyline as it’s predecessors, with you playing as Mio, who follows her twin Mayu to find a hidden village that is full of spooky happenings and ghosts around every corner. Why they don’t immediately turn and run away is beyond me, but then if every character in a horror game or movie paid attention to logic and fear then it would end five minutes in.
You are both put up against a whole bunch of ghosts, with the only weapon you have to fight them being a Camera Obscura, which exorcises any ghosts you take pictures of. And you don’t just have to take one picture, you have to get them in your viewfinder, wait for your Spirit Charge to fill up, and then take a photo. That will take a certain amount of energy off them, and then you have to keep going until you take all their energy off, which can take a while if you’re going up against a strong ghost. One upside is you can catch a few different ghosts at the same time if you line them up right, and when you’ve got a few villager types after you this is extremely handy.
The controls are fairly simple to pick up, even though the tutorial drags through them slowly and the wording is a bit confusing at times. Once you’re half an hour in the gameplay controls should be easy enough to understand, but using them is another story entirely. As per usual with the Wii controls, you’ll find that trying to move the camera, or the character, is a little like trying to describe a Renaissance painting to a blind person. You can sort of get there, in a vague sort of way, but it’s utterly frustrating and you’ll often just end up cursing at the screen.
Given that the game is made up of tense, high stress moments, the last thing you want is to have a drifting controller. This is aggravated by the fact that you can aim your camera with your nunchuck as well as your remote, so you have to constantly check yourself to ensure that you are aiming it the right way. And when a ghost is bearing down on you, moaning, while your remote vibrates in your hand in a panic, that gets a bit much. But in a totally awesome way. Unless your controller is being frustrating, in which case any fear you might be feeling is overcome with frustration.
There are a few save points, but not until you start exploring the entire village. You’ll definitely want to keep saving once you finish important events. Especially since the suspenseful slow pace of the game means that you can’t just skip through things quickly. I mean, she takes five seconds with each action she does, as the game builds up the suspense of ‘ooo is there a ghost behind this?’. And in terms of suspense building it works, but not when you’re playing it the second time through.
There is also a Haunted House mode that can be played with two players. This involves three on-rails type of games and the aim of them is to make it through sections collecting items and taking photographs, without showing fear. And before you wonder how a Wii detects fear, it’s done by how much you shake the controller. Which, even hearing the instructions, is setting itself up for failure. In playing through the game the issues become glaringly obvious, but it’s a fun thing to play through with a friend, and certainly could be improved with better controls.
This is not a game you want to play if you get scared by the horror genre. The game immerses you immediately, and the cut scenes just serve to add to the tension. The graphics are quite well done, and it feels like a Japanese horror film, with a couple of scare moments, and an overall spooky feel. They’ve certainly carried off the horror part ridiculously well.
One issue I had is that it is extremely frustrating to change the camera angle. You can only really do so very slightly and with great pains.
The soundtrack does well to build up the tension as well, with an overall creepiness to it, and the moaning and wailing from the ghosts. When you’re in battle with a ghost you better find a way to lighten that tension or distract yourself, or you’ll find yourself gripping that Wii remote for dear life. Not only is there the ghost wails, the background music, but also a heart beat, and a vibration on the Wii remote to make sure you can really feel and hear it everywhere.
There are times that the music gets a bit much though, since every time that Mio does anything, including opening a door to an empty room, the same suspenseful sound byte is played. After a whole bunch of actions that result in the same sound it does get a bit old, but when it is set to something actually happening it works really well.
The characters talk in a dubbed overly English accent, which is a bit funny to listen to at the beginning but you get used to it over time.
Project Zero 2 is a game that certainly deserved a remake, for those who didn’t get to play it the first time around. The remake has updated features that help a bit with its user friendliness, however the controls let the game down and detract from what is otherwise a thoroughly immersive experience.
If you were a fan of the original, or just a general horror genre fan, this is definitely a game you should look at getting. As long as you can be patient with the controls, that is.