Preview: Haunting Ground (PS2)

Publisher: Capcom / Developer: Capcom / Genre: Adventure / Release Date: Q3 2005

Do you remember in Resident Evil, how none of the voice actors would say the word ‘dead’, not that you noticed because you were on the ground laughing every time they opened their mouths?

“Chris… are they…? is he…?”
“Yes… Jill. They’re all…”

Well… Capcom hasn’t really come that far in the past few years apparently. Originally titled Demento in Japan (gold, title gold) Haunting Ground has equally terrible acting, or maybe they just chose to showcase the very worst of it in the trailer. While watching the trailer, however, I realized something important: I have several miniskirts. Heather from Silent Hill 3 wore a miniskirt, Fiona in Haunting Ground wears a miniskirt. Conclusion? When the flesh eating monsters come to town, I’m walking away from the carnage, rocket launcher in hand, while you all are zombiemeal. I’m sorry, it’s just the way it is, there can be only one ineffectual, slow-moving survivor, and she be me.

Waking up naked in a mansion on a strange island, Fiona’s first order of business is fan service followed by clothing. She quickly encounters some genetic rejects, the likes of which are the ‘butt’ of Deliverance jokes everywhere (hehe!). They throw Fiona in the handy dandy island prison where she encounters Hewie the dog. Fiona then takes ineffectual to a new level and has the dog fight for her. My kinda heroine. I hope the dog turns out to be evil. While crappy for the dog, the game is high on realism, Fiona gets more panicked the longer she is around an enemy making her difficult to control and fading the screen as she swoons with the terror. Or, as Capcom put it ‘Engrossing atmospheric effects’ means ‘extra touches heightens fearful situations’ (hehehe oh no! Bad Touches!). Fiona bears a stunning resemblance to Heather, and by the looks of things, the game will go on to rip off many other staples of the genre. I’m sorry if bitterness is seeping through, but you can only take so many dolls missing heads or other limbs and creepy mansions before your head explodes.

Yes, dolls are creepy, we get it.

Since Hewie the dog has no opposable thumbs with which to launch ze rockets, much of the game will rely on the players ability to avoid monsters and inbred alike by hiding in the shadows or behind objects. There is a strong focus on puzzle solving using Fiona’s hu-man abilities along with utilizing Hewie the wonder dog to get into small spaces, or unlock doors. I feel cheated, I mean, Wiggy the cat is pretty impressive with his fly and moth hunting skills… But I haven’t seen him unlock any doors, or follow commands other than ‘Treats!’.

Naoto Takenaka of Ghost in the Shell: Innocence fame will direct the games cinematic sequences. So get ready to have no idea what is going on. I mean… let’s quote Milton! Takenaka was selected to help provide a dark and haunting atmosphere which, admittedly, is something he could pull off. While confusing as hell, Innocence certainly was pretty to look at, except for the mullet.

Due out in Fall 2005 this… looks like a game you could wait for. I’m sorry Haunting Ground, AKA Demento, Bebito said we didn’t have to be positive, or even nice in previews. I thought that was a requisite… How else would Virtua Quest have gotten by with so few zings (more like Virtua Crap I’d say, har har)? It’s just bad timing, Haunting Ground. You should have come out sooner. Or never. Bring back Jill!