Fatal Frame 2: I want that hour back

Several people have been raving about Fatal Frame 2, using phrases like "really scary" and "a lot of fun." You play this little anime girl wandering around in the woods and an old house, and (I gather) the point is to use this magic camera to take pictures of ghosts and solve some mystery. It's very dark (in the "hard to see" sense) and there is adequately creepy music. But here's how I spent the first hour of the game: wandering around an empty (presumably haunted) house and getting lost every time I walked ten feet. The observer perspective changes all the time, so I kept losing track of where the door was! I spent half my time trying to figure out how to leave the room I had just entered. When I finally managed to re-find the main entrance, the game told me that I wasn't done exploring the house yet. It took me 45 minutes just to find the damned camera!

What a colossal waste of time. It felt like playing a first person shooter with no weapons and no enemies, where all there was to do was wander around the map. It would have been scarier and more challenging just to wander around my apartment with a blindfold on.

What is it with video games trying to be even more boring than real life? My understanding was that Kids Today have short attention spans; how do they tolerate this bullshit?

This was pretty much my experience with whichever of the Grand Theft Auto games I played, too: I understand that the point of the game is killing people and beating up prostitutes or something, but it wanted me to go through some "training mission" deal before letting me actually play, and the point of that seemed to be, "drive a car from point A to point B, and drive slowly and carefully enough that you don't bump into too many fire hydrants, or you have to start over." Wow, that's great fun, let me tell you. Drive slow and don't hit things. I have an actual car in which I can play that game!

Someone brought over the PS2 version of The Sims once, and it was even more SimKafka than the others! Ok, what can I do here... "Let's have a party! Start making phone calls. Oh no, now I'm hungry. Oh wait, the cat shit on the floor. Oh, now I'm tired. Now I'm poor. The toilet is starting to smell. My friends say I'm neglecting them." What the FUCK? People do this for fun? I think actual SimKafka would be more entertaining than this: "you wake up. You are a giant insect." Turn over. "You cannot turn over." Call for help. "You have no mouth and you must scream."

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51 Responses:

  1. loosechanj says:

    The difference is, Real Life requires you to exert yourself. Wandering around your apartment blindfolded would burn calories. As would throwing a party or driving. Thanks to the miracle of computers you can now do all these things while not risking any weight loss whatsoever.

  2. substitute says:

    There's a kind of psychotic Gamerthink that says: games should be hard enough to hurt. So we have flight simulators where you have to go through ground school, or farming games(!) that take an entire growing season in real time, racing games where you have to drive a jalopy for a year before they give you the Ferrari.

    I figure I spent $150 for the console and $50 for the game and I'm entitled to instant fuckin' gratification. I demand Mach 2 air combat and flat-out formula 1 cars immediately!

    • brad says:

      Link us to these farming games you speak of!

      • transiit says:

        One of the worst games ever is Animal Crossing for the gamecube. Everything is real time (though thankfully, you can futz with the clock a bit if you don't mind leaving the game to reload your character)

        As best as I could tell, the basic goal was to pass notes to the NPCs, and do anything you could to scrape up cash to pay off your debt to the lone capitalist of the game (digging up fossils, picking fruit, planting trees so you can pick more fruit, scour the map to look for the occassional special rock to whack with your shovel, and on, and on, and on.)

        Even the Sims weren't so banal, you could at least influence them enough to get themselves to burn down their house, get fired, live in squalor, whatever.

        The best part about the current console market is that around 6 months after a new console launches, you can pick up some of the better games for the previous iteration for relatively cheap. The Medievil or Spyro games for the PSX have provided me enough fun to ignore a lot of the alleged "must have" current titles (that and renting the occassional game always helps to realize that it's less painful to squander the 5 bucks on the rental to realize it's a lousy game than drop the 40 to 50 on the newest titles)

        • bikerwalla says:

          You're there to take abuse from all the animals, and maybe if you kiss ass enough, and collect all the thingies, and pull all the weeds, and keep a clean sim-house, MAYBE you'll get some of the inhabitants to tolerate your presence.

          Woo hoo. You win.

          Not to mention that when you pay off your debt to Nook, he decides to make improvements to your house at double the previous price, and holds you responsible for THAT note.

          Three times.

          No, it wasn't me. I got some reading done while a roommate tended her virtual town. And once in a while when they found an NES console in-game, I asked to play the emulated cartridges.

          • ilcylic says:

            Oh, so he's not a capitalist, he's the government.

            "I provide the police who smash your head for smoking things which grow in your gardens. You owe me money."

            "But I don't want police."

            "You have to pay me for them anyway, or I'll send them to smash your head for not paying..."

            I never understood what my friends who play that game saw in it. It looked like very expensive boredom. Then again, they didn't like the racing games ("you're just driving around in a cirlce over and over again...") so, hey, I guess it takes all kinds.


    • gargargar says:

      GTA3 games reinforce traditional moral values to a fault and don't you forget it.

      It builds character, boy!

    • kingfox says:

      Yeah, the unlocking cars/etc. thing in games these days really irks me. I can understand going through some sort of single-player mode before unlocking things within that mode (like in most RTS/FPS/RPGs), but if I'm playing online or multiplayer, I should have every car/weapon/unit/whatever. Having to play the single player for endless hours to get them isn't acceptable.

      The other thing that really scares me are the racing games where people actually play the full long race, turning left around the long track five hundred times. I can't imagine watching that, let alone playing it.

      • transiit says:

        it's always worse to realize that you've just unlocked the last possible carrot and find that you were only grinding through the process just to see if the game would eventually be fun once you finally got the [insert shiny thing here]

        and it still isn't.


      • asan102 says:

        I got 007: Everything Or Nothing a while ago, and the single player is pretty fun, but in order to play real multi-player, where you and 3 friends run around shooting each otehr, you have to fucking unlock it by playing "cooperative mode" where you get to repeat the same goddamn missions as in single-player, but this time you have to convince a friend to play the damn thing with you before you and him can even play real multi-player.

        However, I don't have a problem with games where you don't start out with the most bad-ass weapon.vehicle/magic potions. It's called a plot. You know - rising action, climax, etc. Obviously it's different in a video game, but I just don't think its that much fun when you start out on the most bad-ass level of the game. Of course if you can't get into the story it can get old fast, but it's not fair to say the game sucked just because you never got to the part where the action actually starts - that just means it has a crappy intro (which is certainly a valid criticism).

    • lifftchi says:

      I think you're confusing "hard" and "boring." Pick up Gradius V for the ps2 if you want an example of the /true/ psychotic gamerthink.

  3. neevita says:

    I completely agree about fatal frame 2. I had it for two days and sold it off. Total waste of time.

  4. abates says:

    I had a similar experience with Black and White. It was a promising concept - you get to be a god. However they don't tell you that it's not one of those "create everything, then slack off forever and poke the funny meat creatures occasaionally" deals.

    You get a bunch of people to worship you who can't do much for themselves, and then you get this animal avatar thing you have to train, etc, etc... If I wanted that, I'd just get a pet.

    • mark242 says:

      Does this sound familiar?

      "Control either good or evil people and destroy the other. You, as God, can raise and lower the land, make earthquakes, floods, plagues, volcano eruptions... As Your people grow, Your powers grow and then You can [...]"

      That's the game of the year in 1989, called Populous. Molyneux will never be able to top his first god simulator. It astounds me that Populous is 15 years old and still plays far better than most games today.

      • taffer says:

        I would love a version of the original Populous (or Populous II) that played on modern hardware at a decent resolution. Nice graphics and sound, but don't "improve" the game play in any way.

      • baconmonkey says:

        yeah, but Black and White was more like

        "You, as God, can the slave-labor for a bunch of helpless followers, and you get a big animal who poops"

  5. ivorjawa says:

    I think actual SimKafka would be more entertaining than this: "you wake up. You are a giant insect." Turn over. "You cannot turn over." Call for help. "You have no mouth and you must scream."

    Thank you. It's been a really horrible day, and I really needed that laugh.

  6. samidha says:

    Dude. SimKafka would rock SO MUCH MORE.

    I totally agree with you about The Sims. (I haven't played Fatal Frame 2. Although your description reminds me of the time I rented...Resident Evil, I think? The cutscenes were sort of entertaining. The actual gameplay was like... YOU ARE IN A HOUSE. YOU CAN'T SEE ANYTHING. OMG LIKE THERE IS A KNIFE! THIS IS THE CRAPPIEST WEAPON IN THE GAME BUT IT IS WHAT YOU GOT. GET THE KNIFE. ATTACK ZOMBIE WITH KNIFE. OH YOU'RE DEAD. I mean, I suck at video games, but it wasn't just me. I had a skilled gamer playing with me.

    • taffer says:

      I tried Resident Evil when the GameCube remake was released, since it seems to be lauded as the "best" survival horror title ever.

      The "awesome" control scheme, which is apparently still standard for Resident Evil games, made me decide to avoid anything marketed as a survival horror title.

    • luserspaz says:

      Bored me to tears. It was an interesting concept for like 5 minutes, then I realized I had to tell my sim to use the bathroom. Jesus. If I wanted to worry about banal shit I would play a game called real life.

  7. schnee says:

    SimKafka sounds great. :)

  8. batmite2000 says:

    You are my hero. :)

  9. violentbloom says:

    and this the summary of why video games bore me...plus it makes your hands hurt.

  10. drtesko says:

    try Illbleed for dreamcast sometime. the object is to make it through a fun house, identifying all the places that startle the character. the good thing about this is there are plenty of enemies that apon hitting you cause a comical fountain of blood to come out. it's japanariffic!

  11. gblake says:

    You won't have to wait much longer! There's an old PC game being re-released where you wake up as a cockroach: http://www.insidemacgames.com/news/story.php?ArticleID=10272

    • batmite2000 says:

      I actually bought that when it came out! :)
      It was very entertaining!

      I should try it to see if it runs under windows 2000...

    • greyhame says:

      Oh, wow! I had Bad Mojo back when it first came out, too. Fantastic concept, great atmosphere, unfortunately marred by poor-quality FMV (I mean, really, 1996) and mediocre gameplay. But I still loved it, because, hey, cockroach.

    • taffer says:

      Is this a new record for time from PC release to release of Mac port? Eight years...

      • gblake says:

        The version that came out back then was actually mac/pc I believe. This is a rewrite of the game with today's tech.

  12. rubber_shirt says:

    I find video games are great wastes of time, but they are great if you have a lot of time you need to waste.

  13. kreeg_attack says:

    Hmmm. Sim Kafka does sound interesting. I also want to see Sim Joseph Conrad. Meeting neighbors while surrounded by the waste, folly, and violence of Belgian colonialism. It would be better than chicken.

  14. I've been playing Burnout 3: Takedown on PS2 for a few days now. It encourages you to drive fast and hit things. There are several different play modes in single player so you can mix it up a little depending on whether you just want to choreograph massive 30-car pileups or would rather actually race. If GTA3 didn't give you the immediate gratification you were looking for, you might give it a try.

    Disclaimer: I work for EA, but didn't have anything to do with this particular game.

  15. myoldself says:

    As the stereotype of video games being played only by losers with no friends goes away, game companies seem to be trying harder and harder to make games that only a total loser with no friends would ever be able to complete. Somebody is very wrong about who's playing video games these days.

    SimCity 4 is one of the worst sequels I've ever run across. Almost all of the new features just restrict the gameplay and make it less fun than the first three SimCity games. I'd almost think that was their goal all along.

  16. edge_walker says:

    The point of shit like The Sims is that it's your own self-made soap opera. I don't understand why people watch soap operas or Big Brother or Survivor or trash like that either, but they seem to love to, for some reason.

  17. jkonrath says:

    I'm waiting for SimLiveJournal, where your character is SimBrad and does stuff like buy new servers that then melt down with traffic and deal with SimGothTeens writing in with their drama about banning their ex-friends and whatever else.

  18. What bugs me about video games is load times.

  19. mark242 says:

    The reason the Sims are so popular is the same reason that paper dolls were so popular, or Barbie Dolls / GI Joe are so popular, or dressing up in a coat made of women's skin is so popular. (Uh... nevermind that one) It's the assumption of an alternate life with none of the pressures that make up your real life.

    Ever notice how the really stressful situations in the Sims are nowhere to be found? Work consists of getting on a bus and waiting (during sped-up time) for your character to return. All arguments can be settled merely by talking about sailboats, money, and whether or not the stereo should be turned on. There is no alcoholism in the Sims. There are no midterm exams in the Sims. The Sims don't get sick.

    • baconmonkey says:

      Sims2 changes that.

      Sims can get the flu or food posioning.
      sims now have fears and aspirations.
      teenage sims can get busted by the cops for being out late.

      This means that there are all kinds of new ways to make your sims miserable, hate your guts, and die horrible deaths. Food poisoning? they puke their guts out. The Flu? their cough gets progressively worse until they die an agonizing coughing death. Once dead, a sim that didn't like the now-dead sim, can desicrate their gravestone by kicking it, which makes the friends of that sim very upset when they see the broken gravestone. Sims can also go crazy if they encounter too many fears (which change in the little fears display daily). a money-oriented sim might start begging for change on te street, or a family oriented one might draw a face on a bag of flour and pretend it's a baby.

      • taffer says:

        That sounds pretty neat, actually.

        I've seen plenty of people burning their Sims or locking them in inadequate rooms until they die, but I haven't seen anyone documenting how they've driven them insane.

  20. hawke666 says:

    I'd just like to point out that if you played the Sims for PS2, you have not played the Sims. Sims for PC is a totally, totally different game.

    Much less goal-oriented, much more open .. much more fun. I played the Sims on PS2 after playing The Sims on PC for a long time, and found it totally uninteresting. Much more of a treadmill of "hey you're doing good oh look now you're fucked, repeat", and a lot more limitations.

    The Sims (PC) is fun for the same reason that a dollhouse is fun.

  21. mackys says:

    You might try the first GTA3. There is one (and only one) training mission at the start, but they don't care HOW you do it. And it's just to take someone else to a point on the map - if you crush pedestrians, set fire to police cars and steal another ride along the way, so much the merrier.

    GTA3: Vice City and (it appears) GTA3: San Andreas both seem to have lost the great feeling of the first GTA, which was "we don't care HOW you do it, just get X done." A typical example might be how I barricaded a street with burning vehicles in order to stop someone who I wanted to assassinate after he had left his bodyguards behind.


  22. I do not agree with you at ALL about Fatal Frame 2, but I do about the Sims and GTA. I spent all bloody day running around the place to find The Sims cause everyone said it was (And I quote) 'The best game they have ever played.'
    When I got home I was so dissapointed.

    It seems to me like you just didn't give Fatal Frame 2 enough time. I have rapped the game and it has (IMHP) the best story line ever. If you would have maybe... hmmm... looked at your map! You would have found yourself around the place alot easier, and its easy to get lost the first time you play it. I mean you dont jsut turn on a game and say "Oh I'm going to rap this whole game in one day and become an expert."
    It gets REALLY good once you get out of the Osaka house (The first house you go in, the one you mentioned) and it scaresyou out of your pants which is the best part. (If thats what you like in a game.) I'll admit I absolutely sucked at the controlling at first, but after like a couple hours, I pretty much mastered it.

    Maybe you should think things through or ACTUALLY PLAY the game before you make assumptions like this.

    • jwz says:

      I did look at the map. I did "ACTUALLY PLAY" the game. But hey, thanks for talking to me like I'm an idiot because I don't enjoy wasting my time in the exact same way you do. Fuck off.