Project Zero 2: Wii Edition Review

Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is a bleak, nasty horror game that scares every step of the way.

by

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UK REVIEW--Project Zero 2 is a remake of the disturbing Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, and it might be one of the Wii’s finest retreads--it’s certainly one of its scariest. Nintendo isn't averse to a touch of horror, but Project Zero 2 is a far cry from the excesses of Resident Evil, and even the Lovecraftian menace of Eternal Darkness. Instead, it offers something altogether bleaker: a brutally intense and unsettling tale of ritualistic sacrifice, murder, and tormented spirits. The game is unrelentingly grisly to the point where you'd be hard pressed to say it's enjoyable to play, but it's incredibly gripping and genuinely frightening.

The narrative setup is fairly well-worn in the horror genre: twin sisters Mio and Mayu find themselves in an abandoned village with a mysterious secret that must be solved before they can escape. The two are separated, and though Mayu frequently appears to her sister, she always seems to be out of reach. While everything about the place should set off a warning alarm telling her to turn and run, Mio blindly follows her sibling, stumbling into a series of terrifying encounters with the wandering spirits that haunt the village.

It's a disturbing place even before the ghosts show up--a dilapidated, dimly lit settlement of cramped interiors and sinuous pathways. As in the original game, the fear factor is slow to build, the game holding back the shocks and ratcheting up the tension to near-unbearable levels.

Where the original used static camera angles, this adopts Fatal Frame IV's over-the-shoulder perspective, restricting you to an incredibly narrow field of view that only heightens the sensation that something terrible lies just out of sight. It also includes the exquisitely nerve-racking "touch" mechanic from the same game, where you have to hold the A button to have Mio gradually extend her arm to pick up an item, open a drawer, or lift an object to discover what's underneath. A further carryover is the sporadic appearance of a spectral hand, which will occasionally grab Mio's arm: these moments might seem like cheap jolts next to the constant atmosphere of creeping dread, but they're used infrequent enough so as not to undermine the scares when they do arrive.

Indeed, basic actions like opening doors or peering around corners are transformed by a more dynamic camera, which leans in closer, sometimes tugging you over Mio's shoulder to a near first-person perspective, forcing you into rooms before the character you're controlling. That the vast majority of the time there's nothing there only makes the surprises more potent. It's quite an achievement to turn the simple act of holding a button into a test of nerve: the game dares you to be brave and then provokes a genuine sensation of relief when nothing emerges.

It's not long before they do, mind you. Many of the ghosts have backstories, their tales sketched out through discarded notes and fragments of diary entries: tragic, but no less frightening. Some ghosts drop spirit stones in which their thoughts are vocalised; you can slot them into a strange radio and hear their wails through the remote's speaker, the tinny sound quality only making them more unnerving. Others are even scarier, unexplained horrors that float, stumble, and lurch unnaturally toward you, limbs and faces horribly contorted.

Of course, the wonderfully sadistic idea at the heart of the game's systems is that you're actively encouraged to let these malevolent spirits get as close as possible. The camera obscura you wield deals damage as it captures their image, with collectable lenses and upgrades allowing you to temporarily stun or push back your ectoplasmic aggressors. You inflict significant damage when the shutter flashes red for a fatal frame, while bonuses are awarded for snapping two and three ghosts simultaneously.

While the floating numbers and text remind you this is just a game, they never sap the intensity of these encounters. That's partly down to the very deliberate awkwardness of the controls, which regularly prove uncomfortable. Aiming requires a combination of the nunchuk's analog stick and tilts of the remote, which may sound clumsy, and in practice it often is. Yet it's an artful clumsiness, designed to make combat more difficult and thus more unsettling. If the camera obscura were an SLR, then you'd breeze through encounters; here, the controls fit the fiction and serve the game's systems well.

And just as you grow accustomed to negotiating combat scenarios without too much difficulty, the game disempowers you further. You're rid of your torch, forced to explore rooms lit only by the occasional lightning flash and the faint glow of a single lantern. Ghosts begin to move faster, and then suddenly disappear, teleporting behind you. The inclusion of a quick turn is welcome, though it's still startling to whirl around, raise your camera, and instantly witness a screaming face filling your viewfinder.

Most chapters find new ways to terrify. You encounter deadly spirits that can't be harmed by the camera, forcing you to flee. You're teased with images of rooms you're about to visit, steeling you for the horrors that inevitably lie in wait. One particularly disturbing set piece sees you suddenly surrounded by corpses while a ghost shrieks with laughter before an invincible spirit with a deathly touch forces you to flee. That Mio runs at the pace that most game characters walk only makes your escape more fraught. Other moments offer subtler scares: there's a masterful fourth-wall-breaking sequence that puts you in a room with an old projector--the Wii's disc drive whirring in time with the spinning reel--and suddenly stopping as the film ends. Along with the voices of the spirits floating from the TV to the remote's speaker, it can sometimes feel that the horror is seeping into the real world.

If the Wii version is mostly an improvement on the original game, it does suffer in other areas. The perspective shift can result in camera problems in narrow spaces, and while Nintendo has put laudable effort into localising the game for a European audience, the British voices aren't a great fit for the Japanese setting. The performances are also a little flat compared with recent translations like The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles. And though the game works hard to make you feel uneasy, the revealing attire of its 15-year-old protagonist and the camera's willingness to highlight her flimsy clothes is the wrong kind of uncomfortable.

The only other notable addition is a new Haunted House mode, an on-rails scare ride that sees you exploring a series of locations unlocked by playing through the campaign. You might be asked to take pictures of spirits or simply remain calm in the face of some rather corny jump-shocks by keeping the remote still before being judged on your performance or stoicism. It's essentially a rather brazen copy of the Ju-On game, and while it's fleetingly entertaining, it's not a mode you'll revisit too often.

Thankfully, the story is more than worth the price of admission, and it's a reminder why horror games can be so intoxicating. Break Project Zero 2 down to its base mechanics, and you're left with something that is by turns awkward and embarrassingly simplistic: its puzzles are rudimentary, and it's as linear as games can get. But its claustrophobic atmosphere and masterful sense of pacing generate a pervasive sense of dread that immerses and consumes you. At one point, you come across a room with bloody handprints on the adjacent wall and smeared across the door, not wanting to enter, but knowing you have to. It's these excruciating moments of anxious anticipation that make Project Zero 2 one of the scariest experiences you'll encounter in any medium.

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The Good
Rich atmosphere that heightens tension
Shocks are timed with Hitchcockian precision
Excellent use of the remote speaker
Defeating tough enemies produces overwhelming relief
The Bad
Haunted House mode is tacky
Camera's roving eye adds unneeded ick factor
8.5
Great
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0 comments
kavadias1981
kavadias1981

I'm really enjoying this game but I need a guide to help me unlock everything! Played it through on normal and hard and there is still stuff waiting to be purchased :(

hellrazorangel
hellrazorangel

When can you buy Project Zero 2: Wii Edition in USA?

BillyColeman
BillyColeman

this is why my usa wii has dust on it Nintendo of usa just disowns its gamers love my jp wii

keith-shipman
keith-shipman

i have Fatal Frame/ Project Zero 1, 2 and 3 on the PS2, i bought a Wii specifically because i read that Fatal Frame/PZ4 was being released only on Wii, so imagine my disappointment when it failed to materialize (unless you can afford the import), SOOOO glad that FF2/PZ2 is now out on Wii, it is on my TO BUY list. Will this mean that Wii/Nintendo will release the others, including the long awaited 4

ydnarrewop
ydnarrewop

I wonder if it will ever come to any other systems?

TheEveryMan
TheEveryMan

Look at the colonials b**ch XD, but it would be nice that everybody gets a slice of the game.

swimbearuk
swimbearuk

I like that Americans are whinging about not getting this. Normally it's the other way around for gamers in the UK. There are loads of US exclusives that I've had to import or just forget about owning.

UnwantedSpam
UnwantedSpam

Great. Now bring it to North America before I start writing strongly worded letters to NOA again.

LtReviews
LtReviews

No North America release? What the.... but when the original was released, the MAJORITY of sales were actually in North America!

TimboII
TimboII

Nintendo, please release this in North America like you have been doing with Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story....

SpookyJack
SpookyJack

I think they should've kept the fixed camera angles. This RE4 over-the-shoulder doesn't work for PZ2. It did for PZ4 because the game was built around it but not for this one.And the mini-map on the top right corner is annoying. What is this, RE5?!

NeoIostars
NeoIostars

looks like it's time to import... again. I won't lie, I bought a Wii just to play Fatal Frame 4 (thank god for fan-made translation!). Now this game will be the reason to blow the dust off my Wii, lol

pcty
pcty

I need an NTSC(U) version!

popeyfolger
popeyfolger

Is this coming out in the states does anyone know when? the Uk is so lucky they get all the good wii games and americans get all the garbage .... not that we don't deserve it. This is what we get for encouraging casuals to play games. we've lost all of our hardcore genres jrpg,survival horror, Stealth, point and clicks, and puzzle games and it really sucks:(

fsoad
fsoad

Nintendo now owns the largest part of Fatal Frame serie so forget about a multi-platform release.

Goriza
Goriza

NOw an xbox 360 and ps3 remake

Goriza
Goriza

Fatal Frame is the best horror series. Why they dindt keep the working on it?

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

They still make games for the Wii? 

ForsakenWicked
ForsakenWicked

I have the first two games for Xbox. They're both masterpieces. Hope they eventually release Fatal Frame 4 in America.

nini200
nini200

I want Echo Night: Beyond - WiiU Edition.  This game looks good but I can tell from looking at that video that it has nothing on Echo Night: Beyond as far as scariness.

tomouse84
tomouse84

This was a fantastic game on its first release. Although the original still plays very well I'm happy for the remake with added motion controller capabilities. Fingers crossed for a release on the Playstation Move. (I don't have a Wii).

Mariner32
Mariner32

This is great and all, but I really hope this one actually sees a US release, unlike Fatal Frame 4...

TenraiSenshi
TenraiSenshi

"Project Zero 2: Wii Edition is a bleak, nasty horror game that scares every step of the way."

 

Horror games, the only type of game where you can use words like "bleak" and "nasty" to describe them and it ends up being a compliment.

therealsig
therealsig

Koei Tecmo, stop toying with my emotions and start with Fatal Frame 4 already. What is this "Cursed Memoir" on 3DS and now this? Puh-leez. Enough! Console-release this once and for all!

Powerwalk
Powerwalk

need more horror games like fatal frame sick of cliché hollywood horror games

speed45823
speed45823

Damn it. Will there ever be a PC edition?

SnakeEyesX80
SnakeEyesX80

Uh oh, get ready for the flood for "hardcore" WiiU games!

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

I've heard a lot of people talk about how the Resident Evil Remake or Silent Hill 2 is the scariest game out there but anyone who has played Fatal Frame 1 and 2 (I never got to play 3 so i can't comment on it) knows what real fear and tension are in a video game. Glad the remake turned out well.

Witchsight
Witchsight

Im happy this was reviewed so favorably... Thats probably what i would have rated the original after playing through it years ago on PS2. If it was a straight port i would have been skeptical, but the updates sound relevant. This and Silent Hill 2 are the two most frightening games ive ever played.

calvinsora
calvinsora

Very much want to try this out, it's been a big hassle finding the PS2 version in good condition.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

Btw, One question:This game (PS2 version) was Named (if i recall well) "Rei Zero" in Japan, "Fatal Frame" in US and "Project Zero" in Europe.

 

How come Japan is now using the European name? I'm really curious about that.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

"Brutal" merit? The game is Scary but it's not gory at all (they were, in fact, quite wise to stay away from bloody imagery it in this game).

TheEveryMan
TheEveryMan

@hellrazorangel 

You cannot purchase this game in North America, since it wasn't released there. The only option you have is to purchase and import the UK version. I saw a copy in my local gaming store yesterday, it was quite cheap also.

hellrazorangel
hellrazorangel

 @swimbearuk Nice spider pic... recluse? Anyway Americans are whining because we don't get any survival horror goodness... just Action horror titles because devs are convinced a true Survival horror title such as this will not sell well in the USA... which sucks!@ 

BlazeODU
BlazeODU

 @TimboII If they didn't release Fatal Frame 4 in the States, why would they release this?

LtReviews
LtReviews

 @popeyfolger "Not that we don't deserve it. This is what we get for encouraging casuals to play games"

 

But wait.... if we don't deserve it because we have casual gamers.... and Nintendo is the biggest console maker to sell to the casual market...and Nintendo is releasing the game.... OMG ITS A CONSPIRACY!!!!!

 

Either that, or you need your head examined. Because that your statement makes absolutely no sense.

onixevil
onixevil

 @Goriza Remakes for Nintendo only

crappy HD for the others

HotaruFan
HotaruFan

 @therealsig 

There's been a Fatal Frame 4 for years now.  It just never came to America unless you count the fan translation hack.

therealsig
therealsig

 @OHGFawx I friggin agree with the crap outta that statement. For me, Fatal Frame (1, 2, and 3) were and still are the scariest games I've ever played. I hate it when people keep saying Resident Evil is SOO scary. Only the Resident Evil 1 and 2 were the scary ones. I actually heard a guy on the radio saying Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was so scary he had to "put the controller down and shut off the game." Wuss.

slayerSS-3
slayerSS-3

 @Warlord_Irochi Nope, Zero is called in Japan, Fatal frame in USA and Project Zero in Europe and rest of the world

slayerSS-3
slayerSS-3

 @Warlord_Irochi It is a very gory game not really vloody.Spoiler

For example in one part a woman drops from the roof to suicide and break her neck over and over again and you saw it very clear, and that is just one example of many, in fact you have to kill kids too, one of a few games I saw this.

mark_unix
mark_unix

@SgtSilock. @ydnarrewop @Blinded_Colony wrong, it was actually first published on the PS2 and this Wii version is a port.

 

it is very likely it will get ported to other consoles as Tecmo IS FULL COPYRIGHT HOLDER.

nintendo is just another publisher and OWNS NOTHING of this property.

slayerSS-3
slayerSS-3

 @therealsig Silent Hill 1 for me was more scary than fatal frame although not by far, but I agree Resident evils aren't that scary if you compare them with FF or SH they are excellent survival horror games for sure(no! do not include 4 and so on)Speaking of fatal frame 2 is one of the best survival horror games you can play and this remake is just perfectly done.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

 @slayerSS-3 Yes well, "gory" means exactly that; display of blood (splatter of you like).  This game shows almost no blood and that is good, it would not fit in this kind of horror.

Project Zero 2: Wii Edition More Info

First Release on Jun 29, 2012
  • Wii
8.5
Average User RatingOut of 48 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate Project Zero 2: Wii Edition
Developed by:
Koei Tecmo Games
Published by:
Nintendo
Genres:
3D, Open-World, Adventure, Action