Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly Director
Since its inception, Tecmo’s Fatal Frame games have been providing a unique experience in the dime-a-dozen survival horror genre with fresh gameplay aspects and an extremely creepy story. Last year on the PS2, the second Fatal Frame title, Crimson Butterfly carried the series nicely with a very frightening look and feel and a brooding sense of atmosphere. Now, just in time for Halloween, Xbox gamers are finally getting a hold of Crimson Butterfly with some great perks. For those who complained about the irksome camera issues, there is now a brand new FPS mode, which carries the series to new heights in terms of both gameplay and overall feel. Plus, there are quite a few other bonuses exclusive to Xbox owners, like new ghosts and costumes. With a host of great new features and the great new FPS mode, Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly Director’s Cut (whew!) is the version to get.
For those unfamiliar with the PS2 version, Fatal Frame 2 follows the exploits of two twin sisters, Mio and Mayu, as they wander across an abandoned village that was the location of a horrific massacre some years before. As they explore the village, they soon realize that they are not alone, for the village is home to the tortured spirits that used to live in the decaying town. These spirits are expectedly quite unsettled and angry, and attack the girls. Fortunately, they discover the “Camera Obscura”, a camera with the ability to capture the ghosts within and contain their spirits. Therefore, they embark on a quest to uncover the mysteries of the town while trying to keep from becoming a mystery themselves. Fatal Frame 2 is a very creepy, atmospheric game with the most disturbing aesthetic in a survival horror game since Silent Hill 2.
The basic gameplay is pretty standard for the survival horror genre. You explore the village, uncover clues, solve basic puzzles, and find keys to take you to new areas; pretty stock things for a survival horror game. However, Fatal Frame’s big difference is the use of the camera. The “Camera Obscura” is your method of dispatching the spirits. Once you are encountered with a ghost, you must quickly switch to your camera and focus in on them via the targeting mode and then snap their picture. The whole process doesn’t exactly feel very fluid, but in this case the lack of fluidity adds to the suspense and sense of danger in the game.
The Director’s Cut version on the Xbox has several cool new features, but the aforementioned FPS mode is by far the coolest addition. Playing through the game in first person mode adds a frightening new element to the game, putting the action and scary situations through your eyes. The controls in this mode are also easy to grasp; you use the left thumbstick to control movement and strafing and the right thumbstick to look around, just like in any other FPS game. This new mode also all but eliminates the annoying camera angle issues that plague the standard mode, which will appeal to those who had a problem with them.
The graphics in Fatal Frame 2 are very dark and moody, setting the atmosphere for the game. The whole look has a grainy quality to it, not quite as pronounced as that in the Silent Hill games, but present enough to give the game a real eerie feeling. The character models are nicely detailed, and the ghosts are presented with a nice glowing aura about them and the lighting and special effects are very solid throughout.
The sound and music presentation is right up there with the graphics, as in very polished and extremely creepy. The music is mainly ambient noise, very heavy and atmospheric. The voice acting is slightly campy, but otherwise well done.
Fatal Frame 2 is a very scary and very disturbing game; I’d say the most disturbing survival horror game since Silent Hill 2. However, in that, it is an extremely engaging game with a great story and a fantastic sense of atmosphere. Plus, the Director’s Cut features some great new additions, which definitely make the Xbox version the one to get.
Review Scoring Details for Fatal Frame 2: Director’s Cut
The gameplay in Fatal Frame 2 is pretty standard fare for survival horror games; you simply explore the town, capturing ghosts and collect keys to progress to new areas to search. The sense of atmosphere is amazing, and this is certainly the type of game that you will want to play with the lights out (you’ll probably end up sleeping with the lights on though). The new FPS mode is a nice touch, straightening out the camera issues that are pretty much a standpoint in the entire genre.
The graphics are very dark and moody, keeping with the overall theme of the game. The game has an overall grainy quality to it, which makes it all the more disturbing. The environments are realistic and the character models are well done.
The sound presentation is very ambient and eerie, adding the mood of the game nicely. The voice acting is campy, but pretty well done.
Fatal Frame 2 has a creepy story and an excellent sense of atmosphere. Also, the Xbox version benefits from some great new features not on the PS2, like the fantastic FPS mode.
Fatal Frame 2: Director’s Cut stands as one of the creepiest and most disturbing game experiences I’ve had in a long time. The game has a brooding sense of atmosphere and a great story that is the stuff of nightmares. Pick it up if you are a fan of the survival horror genre.