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April 11, 2006
Project Zero 3: The Tormented - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
24/2/2006Take TwoTecmo1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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The camera makes a return.
A couple of years ago I had the privilege of playing Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly. I call it a privilege because it was a title which I knew little about but one which almost two years later still has me very impressed. Sure the storyline was a bit weak, and the graphics could have been a little better, but one thing was certain, the game was as scary as hell - but always tremendous fun to play. Two years later and Tecmo have finished work on the sequel. Called Fatal Frame III: The Tormented in Japan and America, the game is once again being renamed for PAL territories to Project Zero 3: The Tormented. I still don't know why the name change, but it's the same brilliant game that's for sure.

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Surrounded by ghosts.
Project Zero 3: The Tormented sees players take on the role of Rei, a cursed young woman whose overwhelming guilt following a car crash and tormented dreams lead her into a formidable world where the lines between reality and nightmares are blurred and the only way out is to solve the mystery of the tattoo. What the player will see in Reiís dreams is only the beginning of the nightmare... During the game players actually switch between 3 different characters including a new female heroine, Rei Kurosawa, and a young journalist, Kei Amakura, and Miku who makes a return from the original Project Zero.

It's fair to say that this third game plays pretty much like previous titles. The game is played in a third person perspective, however you can also switch to a first person perspective to take photos of the evil spirits. Each of the three characters has their own strengths making them useful in different situations. While Kei is strong, Miku is smaller and can get into tighter spaces.

Yet again the players main weapon is a camera. The camera obscura returns as a weapon but also as a guide by taking pictures of the ghostly inhabitants and creepy objects within the "House of Sleep" in order to solve the mystery of the tattoo and rid of the curse. As with the previous game the camera can be upgraded as you progress allowing you to photograph stronger spirits and progress further.

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Some aspects are damn scary.
As you move through the levels you will find 'hotspots' where you can toggle switches, or open doors and so on. This isn't something new to games, we've seen it in pretty much every adventure game over the last decade, however in Project Zero 3 it's overly sensitive about where you are positioned when trying to activate the event. If you're a few pixels away from it, or facing the wrong direction it won't work. On more then one occasion I thought it wasn't an interactive object, when in actual fact I wasn't standing in the right location.

Project Zero 3's 13 chapters take a bit around 15 hours to complete making it a bit longer then the previous game which is good to see. There are also some items to unlock including new costumes, which will likely get you back for a second play.

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Quick, take a photo.
I guess the main issue I had with this game is that despite a rather large jump in the amount of shocks and scares this game plays very similar to the previous title. Perhaps it's a little too similar in fact. I would have liked to see Tecmo take a few risks, involve perhaps one or two weapons, and perhaps even some 'possessed' people to defend against. Another slight issue is that I felt the games heroines moved a too slowly - especially when in the first person camera mode where they seem to slow to a snails pace. Even when running in third person mode the characters never seem to move quicker then a slow jog - and are almost always easily caught by the ghosts.

As you can see from the surrounding screens this is an impressive looking game, and one which will scare the pants off you. The ghosts appear out of no where, and certainly provide more then a few creepy moments. In fact the spirits look quite sensational with gorgeous transparencies, and an almost endless variety of types. I must also applaud Tecmo for the use of different effects and filters including sepia tones and old style film grain which gives the game a sense of occasion in much the same way that Blair Witch used shaky handy cams to provide a realistic documentary style. Lighting also deserves a special mention with shadows cast from most objects and plenty of haunting moments only being illuminated by your torch. Graphics in Project Zero 3 are rounded off with the inclusion of 60Hz and 480p (progressive) modes, although the exclusion of a 16:9 widescreen mode is somewhat baffling.

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Do you sense something?
As with any game which tries to provide some scares audio plays a major role in creating the atmosphere. Without a doubt the developers have truly succeeded in this area with some haunting music and effects which will have you glued to your seat, and ready to hide under it. The speech is also pretty good for a translated game with solid enough dialogue although at times the quality is below expectations. If there's one disappointment it's that the developers have only included stereo sound. I would give my right arm to hear this in DTS one day - perhaps in a PS3 version somewhere down the line.

With a price point of only $49.95 here in Australia Project Zero 3: The Tormented is stunning value. Given the lack of players of the previous games my main issue of this game being too similar to previous ones isn't actually an issue for many of you. This is atmospheric gaming at its best. Just remember to keep the lights turned off, the speakers up and a spare pair of pants near by you and you'll be in for the time of your life.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
GRAPHICSAs with PZ2 it has a couple of issues, but overall this is quite brilliant.
SOUNDTecmo's audio is some of the most atmospheric ever heard in a game.
GAMEPLAYA bit too similar to previous games, but newcomers will be thrilled.
VALUEDamn. This game has been released at the budget $49.95. Brilliant.
OVERALLProject Zero 3: The Tormented is a fantastic game at a budget price. If you want something decent to play this year then give this game a go. Tremendous fun.

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