Project Zero 3: The Tormented PS2 Review

There has been a whole bunch of Survival Horror games doing the rounds lately, most of which are not very scary at all. Most of the titles in the genre these days offer gamers far too many weapons which give the protagonist a huge feel of overpowering the odds and being able to fight your way through the hoards of whatever has chosen to attack you. This has progressed so far that a sub-genre of “action horror” seems to have developed. Few games these days actually give gamers a huge sense of fear and foreboding with the last great scare being (IMO) Condemned on the Xbox 360. It gave gamers a few projectile weapons and the rest came from the objects they could find in the environment thus leading to a very scary few hours of gaming. The Project Zero series goes one better in not giving you any weapons at all other than a measly ole camera. Anyone that has played the previous games will tell you that PZ can be one hell of a scary game to play. Does the third game in the series continue the thrills of it predecessors?

You Had A Bad Day

PZ3 tells the story of a Freelance photographer Rei Kurosawa. Her fiancé has just died in a rather horrific car crash. After the crash, Rei is in shock and struggles to leave the house, she tries to stay at home as much as possible and is rarely seen outside. She lets an assistant of hers called Miku (the heroine from the first title in the series) schedule most of her life. Of course, if her life stayed like that all the time it would lead to a very boring game so one day an assignment leads her to a haunted mansion. At first the mansion throws up no surprises, however just as she is about to leave she sees a vision of her dead fiancé, Yuu, walking down a corridor. This is when the game’s cut-scene ends and turns control over to you. From there you must follow the path the sporadic vision of Yuu leads you on. From this point on the game starts to take many weird turn and to divulge them in this review would lead to ruining the game for you if you do choose to play it. I will say though that the story is a rather interesting one with a nice amount of twists and turns on the way.

The Camera Don’t Lie

Of course Project Zero would not be Project Zero without the infamous Camera Obscura which makes its return as the only “weapon” available to you in the game. For those of you not familiar with Project Zero’s gameplay, this fabled camera allows the user to banish the ghost you happen upon while play the game. The power of the camera is determined by the quality of the film that you use (the better the film the more damage you cause). The cameras can also be upgraded throughout the game with the points you earn from snapping shots of the ghosts you see. The camera also has some special abilities such as shutter chance and fatal frame which do more damage if used correctly. All in all the camera is a very effective tool which gives you some power over events as they unfold but also a feeling of helplessness which thus leads to a great feeling of fear.

You’re Taking One Down

Over the course of the game you will hit upon a vast assortment of ghosts. Some of these you fight in the game are a very hit and miss affair. Most ghost are quite simple to shoot which can lead to the game getting boring at times but other ghost seem to move around a little too much which can get aggravating. There does not seem to be any middle ground between the two. Then there are the “boss ghosts” in the game which move around an awful lot and disappear from view to reappear in a totally random place. These fights can get very aggravating as the characters you play do not possess the ability to move about very quickly. Even though there is a run button it turns out that all it does is initiate more of a leisurely stroll rather than any movement of great speed.

While not in the dream land (were most of the game frights are had) the rest of the game takes place in Rei’s home. While here Rei can develop some of the pictures on her camera, ask Miku to research some items and also look in Yuu’s old room for some clues. It has to be said that wandering about your home can get boring and this is where most of the game’s lowest points are set. Seeing as most of you will probably have bought the game to be frightened it’s sad to say little scares are to be found in this section of the game. Even though the titles contain some aggravating moments like the ones named above it also contains loads of great frightening moments (which I won’t mention in fear of spoiling sections of the game) which really make the game good value for money. If you enjoyed the previous games then you should be able to put up with the imperfections the game challenges you with. For gamers trying to get into the series there are many things that would put you off from a potentially great gaming experience.

Falling To Pieces Everytime

In terms of graphics and audio the game is fantastic. The shift from the dream world to Rei’s home offers the gamers two completely different settings to behold. Each of them offer some interesting things to see but it is in the dream world where the game triumphs. The dark colours of the musty dust fills rooms set a great scene with loads of potential to scare you around every corner. When the game gets gory with blood on the walls it is all handled well and not over done. There is also a nice selection of different kinds of ghosts to scare you. I cannot be 100% sure but I think every single ghost seen in the game looks different from the one seen before. Any ghosts you see which may look familiar means you will be encountering the same ghost for a second time. Each of the spirits also seem to have their own unique animations and will try to scare you in their own unique kind of way.

Perhaps the only graphical low point is the main characters themselves which can at time look a bit “plasticky” and seem to move around a bit stiff. The reason why it this is so noticeable is because everything else around them look so great any small imperfections really do stand out. The sound is also expertly done with many well chosen compositions and eerie ambient sounds used and the correct point throughout the game to maximize the scare factor. It also has to be said that the game uses silence very well when everything in the game quiets down building up the expectation for a big scare

Overall

Easily one of the most frightening games I’ve played in my life. That is the best compliment I can give the game. It may not have some of the finest gameplay ever seen in a PS2 title and it sure does have a few irritating flaws that could have been rectified but when it is at it best, PZ3 will have you right on the edge of your seat. Over the course of the 12+ hours of play in the main quests, the thrills far outweigh the lulls and it is for that reason we can easily recommend PZ3 to any fans of the horror genre. If Resident Evil 4 was supposed to make you pee your pants then Project Zero 3 will easily have you shitting your shorts as it contain heaps more pant soiling moments than Capcom’s effort. If we were to compare both titles directly RE4 would probably come out on top as it offers the best overall experience but PZ3 tells the better story and as a result ends up being the more memorable.

8.2 out of 10

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