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Acta Est Fabula,
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This review is from: Haunting Ground (PS2) (Video Game)
Haunting Ground is one of those survival horrors 'with a difference' - a sub-genre which has flourished since the proliferation of Resident Evil titles, the success of Project Zeroes 1 and 2, and the ever growing shadow of the more intelligent and thoughtful Silent Hill titles. The difference here is that Fiona, the game's perky protagonist, is weak and feeble, and has absolutely no means of attacking anyone or anything herself. Seeing that she's now stuck in a castle being chased by a bevvy of unknown antagonists then, she'll need all the help she can get - and this comes in the form of a German Shephard, Hewie.
What we get, then, is a Clock Tower style game in which you must tip-toe around, solve the traditional puzzles, and run and hide whenever you are discovered by the local madman. Or woman, as that may be - the game excells early on with the introduction of the deliciously confusing Daniella, a character who will never truly be topped after she departs from the main thrust of the action.
Combat is handled by giving commands to Hewie, and after a short period of confusion this becomes second nature. You can also make him search, sit, shake hands with you, run away and other things, along with being able to praise or criticise him as need be. The Hewie / Fiona partnership is a strong one - playing as a helpless Fiona, you are almost pitifully reliant on Hewie, and as such you become quite endeared to him: his presence is calming and reassuring in a game which frequently comes very close to being terrifying.
But then again, it's just survival horror. The characters play out their parts in rusty voices, and the script is just a tad short of being 'cleverly concealing', and is instead annoyingly incomplete. I've completed the game, and I'm still not sure why everyone was after Fiona to such an extent. Unless, that is, they were attracted to her: Fiona is one of a relatively new breed of young, nubile, underdressed and over-sexualised protagonists who, for all their failings, rake in the pundits merely for their feminine qualities. It's questionable as to whether the average male player feels more inclined to protect Fiona because she's a scared young girl, or because she's a sexy young thing.
Well, whatever works for you. I have no shame in admitting I spent more than a fair few minutes deciding exactly which outfit to put her in, but what's more important is that I spent a good few days fully engrossed in an entertaining and involving game. It's easy to be genuinely worried about Fiona and, by the end, it's easy to see why Haunting Ground has been flying off the shelves to a far greater extent than Capcom considered possible - it's successful on almost every level.