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June 2, 2004
Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly - Review
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What the ....?!
The survival horror genre. To think that Capcom's original Resident Evil (or Biohazard as it's known in Japan) was released on the PSOne in 1996, only eight years ago now. It seems like much longer, but given the number of "survival horror" games that have been spawned since it's not surprising it seems like 15 years since the genre burst back onto the scene. It is testament to Capcom's level of skill that almost no games have come close to their series in terms of quality and shocks, the one exception being Konami's Silent Hill games. Now you can add Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly to that list of stand out titles (I'm not quite sure why they dropped the more appropriate Fatal Frame name for the PAL version).

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Watch out for the ghost.
Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly is set in Japan where Mayu and Mio are, for some reason, wondering through the woods. Soon they are enticed to a haunted village by following a crimson butterfly. While there Mayu goes wandering into a haunted society and it's up to Mio to rescue her. But, as seems to happen a lot, the village is haunted.

Essentially Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly is a typical survival horror title with one very big twist - use must use a camera to defeat the ghosts. That's right you don't have unlimited bullets, machine guns or grenades - what good would they be against specter’s anyway> Instead the obscura camera, which you obtain within the first few minutes, can be upgraded with powers to drain energy and kill the ghosts. An interesting twist which works extremely well as you switch from third person action to first person to aim the camera and take the photos.

While playing the game it is possible to upgrade your camera in the game. This is done through several ways. First you must collect spirit orbs to enable the camera to be upgraded, and then you must have sufficient points to actually upgrade the camera. These points are earned by taking photos and killing the ghosts throughout the game - the better the photos the more damage you inflict and the more points you earn. It works pretty well overall.

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Taking the photograph.
What I really appreciate about Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly is that it doesn't rely on loud banging noised to frighten you, but rather the haunting sound and visuals which abound through. I guess you could say that the game reminded me of the scary atmosphere in movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blair Witch Project or Alien rather then the jump out frights which come from nowhere in most other "horror" movies. You know what I mean...

Even with the solid gameplay and electrifying atmosphere there are still some minor issues with the game. The first is that despite the potential the game isn't much more then most other survival horror games, that is, find the keys (or complete a certain task) to open the next area. When will developers create a more open-ended survival horror game? The next issue is that while in first person mode to take a photograph it's impossible to move around with your character seemingly fixed to the floor rendering you prone to attack when surrounded by enemies. Having to manipulate the photo album is also a little awkward, and I have to ask if there's really much of a point to it, but some will love looking at their photos.

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Yes, that's an in-game screen.
As you can see from these screenshots the graphics in Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly are more then acceptable. In fact I would say that they are almost up their with any other survival horror styled game. I say almost as there are times when you can clearly see the low polygon count on some background objects - especially trees and leaves - and whether intentional or not it's quite jarring when the screen gets static interference when a ghost is nearby and but then the static suddenly and abruptly disappears when the ghost leaves. It should have had a better fading in and out effect. The animation on the characters is fairly exceptional while the visual effects really push the PS2. The cut scenes top the game off perfectly - Tecmo know what they're doing in that department for sure.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The sound can really make or break an atmospheric game like this and I'm happy to report that sound has rarely been as good in a survival horror game - in fact it probably creates 80% of the atmosphere in the game. Some of the noises are so haunting that you'll have tingles running down your spine, and the hairs standing up on your neck. The voice work is pretty good too, in a campy Japanese dubbing kind of way. It's clear that Tecmo place a lot of emphasis on the sound and it pays off. The only disappointment is a lack of surround sound, although Tecmo use some proprietary developed surround modes to good effect from two speakers.

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Some more lovely CG.
I have to say when I first booted up this game I wasn't expecting much. Hell, I wasn't expecting anything at all really. What I discovered was one of the most scary and engrossing games that I have had the pleasure of playing on PS2 to date - and that's a lot of games. Tecmo have crafted a game that deserves much more credit then it will ever likely receive. If you even remotely like Konami's Silent Hill or Capcom's Resident Evil games then this will have you hooked. Just remember to turn the lights off, the sound up and have a spare pair of pants next to you. Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly will scare the shit out of you.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSThere are some minor issues but overall this is a stunning title.
SOUNDEasily some of the most impressive sound in a game ever. Scary stuff.
GAMEPLAYShooting with a camera is interesting, the gameplay engrossing.
VALUEPerhaps a little short, but well worth a second play through.
OVERALLI went into this game expecting nothing, I came out like I'd just played my first PS2 title - excited as hell. Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly is one game that all survival horror gamers MUST get, and those not into survival horror genre - well, you’re missing out one of the best games this year.

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