Thursday, 9 August 2012

Project Zero 2: Wii Edition

“Expertly crafted onto the Wii platform, Project Zero 2 is a reminder that the survival horror genre is a video game gem, a rarity that when performed properly, can lead to some of the industries’ most terrifying moments.”


It’s always a welcome sight in my eyes to see more adult-themed games appear on Nintendo’s home consoles. While perceived as a company catering to the younger generation, many people forget that on the GameCube for example, Nintendo had exclusive rights to Capcom’s Resident Evil series, so they are by no means strangers to the survival horror franchise. With this in mind a wonderful remake of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly arrives on the Wii to scare the living daylights out of you. This horrifying adventure plays out through an intricately woven story that’s certain to have you cowering in fear as you do everything in your power to solve the mysteries around you and come out alive. 

Project Zero 2 is in every since of the words, survival horror. The story while not revolutionary sets up two twin sisters in an abandoned and mysterious village full of awful and dark secrets. This tale encompasses the notion of one sister trying desperately to find her younger sibling and fortify their connection amidst the terror that surrounds them.  


Many fans of survival horror will get a wonderful nostalgic buzz as soon as they begin playing Project Zero 2. The over-the-shoulder camera angle used is a lot more suspenseful than the immovable camera angles we have come to know from Silent Hill and Resident Evil, resulting in a narrower field of vision and more scares around every corner. When you do get attacked by many of the village’s ghosts, you have to be prepared to use an intuitive and engaging game mechanic to deal with your foes. 

Indeed Project Zero 2’s interesting way to vanquish enemies is the Camera Obscura. This nifty device encourages you to bring ghosts as close as possible to your camera lens and then destroying them with a bombardment of snap-shots. When you bring the camera up the game moves you into a first-person perspective, limiting your sight further. However, with a steady hand and quick fingers you can take down your assailants or even groups of, with a well timed photograph. Project Zero 2 adds some interesting role-play elements into the game by allowing you to upgrade your camera with various different abilities throughout your adventure. These helpful additions will be crucial as you find special film to deal with particular foes, paralyzing shots and other extras that will help deal with the variety of ghosts on show. 

You will find that this is definitely easier said than done. Not due to the games’ difficulty curve, in fact on default setting this is quite a generous survival horror experience. It’s the sheer terror that these ghosts bring that could have you stumbling for that camera. The use of Wii controls is artfully crafted in such a way as to make the entire endeavor quite difficult. Instead of being frustrating however, this whole notion feels appropriate and mimics the supposed fumbling that would occur if you were in that type of situation.

A wide variety of ghouls inhabit this village, each more horrifying than the last. Their pasts can be found in spirit stones or through many collectibles scattered across the village. How far you choose to dwell in their stories is up to you, but the longer you wait around the more suspenseful this whole experience becomes. 

Although the default difficulty setting is forgiving, there is still challenge to be found here. Once you feel like you’re getting to grips with the controls Project Zero 2 opts to take away your only source of light all the while throwing tougher, faster and more cunning ghouls at you. The true survival horror experience is definitely on the harder difficulty setting, but I would recommend playing through on default first to really grow accustomed to the whole game. 

With that in mind there’s definitely considerable replay value to be found in Project Zero 2. A bunch of side quests, optional areas to explore and the Wii exclusive Haunted House mode all pull you back into this uneasy world. The Haunted House game mode isn’t particularly impressive and plays more along cheap scares as opposed to the wonderfully woven atmospheric horror of the campaign, making it feel shallow in comparison. Essentially the game either asks you to take photos or withstand the horror in particular locations you unlock throughout the story mode. That aside, playing through the campaign again is almost necessary to really get the most of this excellent remake. 

Every once in a while a game comes out that really wows me. People argue whether remakes are cheap cash ins but this is an excellent example of a game that has been long-forgotten and brought back into the light for new gamers to enjoy. Clever use of Wii functionality including the speaker in the Wii-mote, interesting game mechanics, terrific pacing and a horrifying story makes Project Zero 2: Wii Edition a much needed game for Nintendo Wii owners. 

8.0 | Gameplay | 
Project Zero 2: Wii Edition shows exactly how basic gameplay mechanics can be so wonderfully implemented when surrounded by the correct atmosphere. Very basic combat mechanics (taking a photo) are made highly intricate by the brooding horror around you and the on-purpose clunkiness of the controls. Your character is weak, scared and alone and this couldn’t be made anymore obvious by how the game plays. True horror is comprised with helplessness and that is here in abundance. 

9.5 | Presentation | 
A horrifying story intertwines this wonderful experience from beginning to end. Environments are stunning and so scary while the ghosts all feel like they are individuals and have their own personalities and stories. Every single element of this game is terrifying and at the same time, beautiful to look at. The relationship between the two twins is particularly ominous and you really begin to feel that something’s not right, yet you have no choice but to keep moving forward into the darkness with nothing but a light and camera. 

7.5 | Replay Value | 
There are extras to unlock, optional quests to partake in and a lackluster Wii exclusive game mode to try out, but the bulk of the content is completed on your first play through. So if you take on Project Zero 2: Wii Edition on a harder difficulty setting straight off the bat, then you’re doing yourself a favour and enjoying this game exactly how it was meant to be played while getting the most out of it in one play through. 

8.5 | Final Thoughts | 
Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is a wonderful remake of a very scary game. Survival horror is a dwindling genre and it’s a delight to see these classic games make another appearance and leave such a positive mark on the industry. Atmosphere is rarely portrayed so effectively in a game so fans of horror need to give this a go because it’s games like this that really bring back memories of your time with classic titles like Silent Hill and Resident Evil. 

Igor Kharin.


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