A true story about a haunted house, a beautiful Japanese teen that’s looking for her disappeared brother and a camera that can kill ghosts. That are the simple ingredients that Tecmo uses to try and bring Project Zero up to the standards of the classics in the genre of survival-horror. Way to go Tecmo !
Tecmo, known for boob-a-licious games like Dead or Alive and DoA Extreme Volleyball are going into the genre where titles like Resident Evil and Silent Hill reign. To make things more bizarre, they’ve found Wanadoo to publish Project Zero, AND the price tag isn’t in the normal full price range ! Could Project Zero be worth anything ? The signs would say “no”… but they couldn’t have been more wrong.
The story starts off with a prologue where a young man called Mafuyu Hinasaki goes to a long-deserted mansion where his benefactor, a famous mystery novelist, and his assistant disappeared. In black and white shades you walk around the house for a while but all the time you get the feeling that something is wrong. A little later you notice that something is indeed wrong as you get attacked by a Japanese priestess ghost and the prologue comes to a halt.
You, as Mafuyu’s sister Miko, travel to the house to find out what happened to your brother and that’s where the story really starts. You’ll find notes, pieces of text, cassettes, etc.. all laying around, left by your brother and other people that visited the mansion and disappeared. A plot starts to unravel but not before you get scared…
You play in a very comfortable 3rd person perspective (camera viewpoints are really good for handling your character) and only when handling the photo camera which is your main weapon, you’ll switch to first person view.
“A camera ?”, you say ? Yes, a camera. No shotguns, lead pipes or anything else. Your weapon is a magical camera that hurts ghosts when you take a picture of them. Although this may sound extremely funny, it in fact works. When playing, you will not feel silly, and while gaining experience by shooting ghosts, you’ll obtain possibilities to expand the camera with extra zooms, bigger flashlights, etc.
A nice addition is the possibility to browse through your picture book where all pictures of ghosts are stored. You might find yourself after a while trying to get the best angle to take a picture J
The graphics of Project Zero are absolutely marvellous. You really get the idea that you’re playing in some horror movie and this without any FMV at all. Everything is realtime and combining a grainy noise effect with excellently animated characters and a mansion that looks abandoned but is infact habitated with blood-thirsty ghosts and sound that puts the point more on scary silence than on howling terror makes the hairs on your back stand up straight. To make things even worse, the lighting comes mostly from your own flashlight so often you will see something move, just to realise it was nothing when you try to get some extra light on it. On the other hand, you might get the shock of your life when you aim your flashlight on a wall and suddenly a gruesome ghost jumps on you.
The game stays focused and although the puzzles may get you running around through the same places over and over again, it never gets boring. Doors open, suddenly get locked, new rooms get accessible, etc… The mansion is huge and it will take quite a while to get the mystery of what happened to your brother and all those who went before him resolved.
Tecmo shows with Project Zero that they’re capable of creating much more than games with big-boobed babes and this game is a defenite buy for anyone that’s in for a scare.