There arenít too many games that pit you in your own house--a haunted mansion I might add; and a main character who is a 17 year-old girl, in this case, Minu. It seems like life in a haunted mansion canít get any worse, but oh it can, because the only thing separating you from the ghosts is a camera, flashlight, and the hope to survive.
As the game begins, reporters are working on a documentary of this haunted mansion which a family is mysteriously lost in. You take the role of Minu Hinosaka, the only family member that isnít missing. Since your family is lost in the deep pits of the mansion, your mission, of course, is to find them. Thereís just one problem though, youíre going to seek out your family in a mansion filled with ghosts and guess what youíre equipped with? No, not a shotgun; nope, not even a stick...your only means of defense is a camera. Strangely enough, this camera will do more than just take pictures, it will actually kill the ghosts if you fire off enough shots (no pun intended). Just like a real camera, you have a limited number of pictures to take. Thatís why there is film scattered throughout the mansion--instead of ammo. Your camera can also be charged up tp dish out heavier amounts of damage. There are also various types of film that have different amounts of power. In other words, some film is better than others because itís more powerful. The way to kill these guys is in first person mode, similar to MGS2. Once youíre close to a ghost, a small indicator on your screen will light up letting your prepare (because you wonít see them at first). Killing the ghosts gives you experience points which later leads to better camera features such as: wider range for shooting, shorter time to charge it up, and other power-ups.
Beside the suspense of hunting down ghosts, are the puzzles that need to be solved to proceed throughout the mansion. Sometimes doors will be trapped with spells preventing you from entering, but the spell can be broken in another area of the mansion, somewhat like DMC.
Iíve always strayed away from survival horrors because of the strange control setting that I could never seem to get the hang of. It always seemed to me like I was stuck on a pole when I was trying to move my character. Project Zero features the typical survival horror control setting. Luckily, the controls are fully customizable which is great for people like me. Moving to first-person view is done with triangle, and then taking the snap shot is done with R1. Thankfully, you can move around in first-person with the right analog while the left analog does the aiming. This is the opposite in 3rd person view as the left analog controls your movements and the right analog aims your flashlight. Again, these are just the default controls. Thereís a lot of leeway with the control setting so there should be an easy set-up for anyone.
Project Zero makes great use of the PS2ís power by giving us some great lighting affects and textures. Just like a Resident Evil or Silent Hill, Zero also makes great use of those eerie, creepy sounds that just further create a scary mood. Theyíre even more impacting on a surround sound set-up. Zero seems like a must-play for survival horror fans, but it should appeal to more action based fans as well. Zero is already out in Japan and heavily in the works for the US. No release date has been announced yet, but keep checking by the news section to find out when one is set.
12/26/2001 Joseph Comunale