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Lesser known survival horrors - is Haunting Ground any good?

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Posted 06-09-2010 at 09:43 AM by December Man
Updated 06-09-2010 at 09:54 AM by December Man

Haunting Ground a.k.a Demento(in Japan), produced by Capcom, is the lesser known horror game of the Japanese giant, the better known being Resident Evil. Why HG wasn't widely advertised by Capcom? What happened?

It was the year 2005. Resident Evil 4 happened. 'Nuff said.

It's actually surprising, considering the game has high production values, therefore a considerable budget must've been assigned to this project. Why Capcom didn't advertise it as much as RE4 is beyond me.

Not that the game is any good though. Let's start with a short plot summary.

Fiona Belli has somehow found herself in a strange castle, which appears to be somewhere in Italy. She has just been involved in a car accident with her parents, but her memories of this accident are vague. She quickly begins searching for some answers and a way out of the castle. Along the way, she befriends a white German Shepherd named Hewie who turns out to be a valuable ally. As Fiona's predicament gets more and more disturbing, she learns that she is the carrier of the Azoth, which is what the castle's residents are after.

As I mentioned, the production values suggest a decent budget. The graphics are very high quality(for a PS2 game),the animations(especially Hewies') are marvellous, the CGI cutscenes are brilliantly done and the voice acting and audio overall is good.

Aside from technicalities this game is one of the more frustrating and irritating ones. It also gets repetitive fast.

Not counting showing off the body of the heroine. Poor girl has the BBB syndrome(Big Bouncing Boobs) ever so present in e.g. Dead or Alive series. The game does everything to show off her legs, breasts etc. to the best of its ability. Any intelligent person can not take a game seriously at this point.

As for the irritating parts. The game expands on the idea of the Clock Tower series(hiding from a single powerful enemy, no weapons etc.). Unfortunately, it doesn't fix one of the major problems the series had - the enemies' appear more often as the game progresses, to the point that instead of being scared, you're going
"Aww FFS! Not this again! I just want to push the plot forward, solve puzzles, not run away!!".

This is even worse when you take into account the fact how few hiding places there are and that enemies learn really fast to check the places where you hide often.

But there's the dog, right? Wrong! You have to constantly either praise him or scold him for him to actually get useful, and even then the little SOB won't help you for some arbitrary reason, and will stand there watching you get stabbed with a huge piece of broken glass. I blame the AI.

The items you get only temporarily stun the enemies for a few seconds, and I barely used them because of that.

As for the rest of the game... The locales get old really fast, since you will see them all the time by running around from enemies.

The story... There isn't much to say. It's a Capcom game, therefore it's average at best.

But the game is at least scary, right? Wrong again! It does have its creepy moments, however it isn't scary in the slightest bit.

All this makes me wonder, how in the hell did this game become a cult classic? It has a fairly large following with people creating fan art of Fiona and Hewie, fanfics etc. I blame the BBB. And the dog is kind of cutesy when he doesn't piss you off, I guess.

You might check it out, but if you don't, you won't miss much.
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