Why is it so hard to find a good survival horror game these days? When the genre was first introduced via the Resident Evil series, survival horror was fresh, new, scary and cool. Today, it's just the same old thing over and over. Of course, every now and then something new comes along, but of course it does not get the attention it deserves. Fatal Frame, Tecmo's latest survival horror title, was different however. Instead of forcing players to walk around killing 9,000 zombies with 4 bullets, Fatal Frame did something new. In the original, players took the role of a young lady who fought evil spirits by capturing them with her camera. In the sequel, the gameplay will follow the same basic premise, though the game will now feature a pair of twin sisters.
Even though the game features two sisters, you will only control one. Of the two, the younger of the twin sisters is your main focus and the only one you control. However, the other sister still plays a vital role, as she is more in tune with the spirits that haunt you. As opposed to the first game, which took place solely in a single mansion, the sequel takes place across an entire village. Throughout the course of the game, the elder sister will often leave your character as she senses certain spirits, though you may not always be able to follow her. This separation anxiety should play a key role in the game, especially since Fatal Frame has never played on conventional aspects of the genre.
In Fatal Frame 2, your character will traverse an entire village, and the interaction between your character and her sister will play a vital role. As always, the goal is to capture evil spirits inside your camera, but that is where the similarities end. In fact, Fatal Frame 2 pre-dates the original, chronologically. Another important difference, as mentioned earlier, is the size of the game environment. Instead of being closed in on one environment, you'll find yourself going in and out of different buildings, which should not only create a feeling of scare-induced agoraphobia, but of isolation as well.
The one thing that separates Fatal Frame from other horror games is the presentation. In most horror games, the tendency is to run from trouble, and for the most part, this type of presentation works fairly well. However, Fatal Frame forces you to face that horror, since you absolutely must capture those evil spirits inside the viewfinder of your camera in order to effectively eliminate them. In this aspect, Fatal Frame sets itself apart from the pack with unique presentation, and the sequel will not only capitalize on this unique style, but it will heighten it through the use of the two sisters. In instances in which your instinct is to run, you won't be able to, because your sister, drawn by the evil spirits, will remain, forcing you to remain and face the terror.
Graphically, Fatal Frame 2 promises to surpass its predecessor, and from the screens we have seen thus far, those promises should hold true. We all know that Tecmo knows how to make a good-looking game, and even though this isn't another Dead or Alive installment, you can count on some incredible visuals. On top of that, Tecmo is also promising enhanced sound and gameplay, though we will have to wait to see how true those claims prove to be.
It's not often we see a survival horror game with unique presentation, let alone a totally unique presence, but the Fatal Frame franchise has so far delivered. We can only hope that the sequel continues this tradition, and we'll keep you updated as this game comes nearer to completion.
8/3/2003 Ryan Hartmann