The first-person mode isn't just a gimmick--it really enhances the experience.
Survival mode is not available initially, but for Fatal Frame aficionados, it represents the best test of skill. In this mode, ghosts come at you constantly and will instantly kill you if they touch you. Those who find themselves easily handling the normal game modes will find survival mode a very hearty challenge. And, as if the waves of spirits weren't enough, you'll be timed when going through this mode, so the key is not just to survive, but to survive as speedily as possible. It's a welcome addition to a game that can swing to the easy side of things for experienced players.
Graphically, the game is great. This version of Fatal Frame II is a bit cleaner than the PS2 original and is on the whole an improvement, though you'll notice some strange color-banding when viewing cutscenes. There's a few too many drab, featureless hallways, which can make it feel like certain areas are recycled, but the rooms themselves, though dark, generally have some good detail. For instance, you'll find broken dolls strewn around a master's workshop, or extreme amounts of blood spattered across the walls of a particular room. The first-person mode gives you a good opportunity to appreciate such details right up close for an even greater impact. The living characters in the game look good and animate well, and the spirits have a lot of personality. While the ghosts still appear insubstantial, there's more detail and variety in their clothing and faces than in the first Fatal Frame, and some of them are quite awful--like the broken form of one who died after leaping from the top of a stairwell. The village itself has a few interesting structures, but the outdoor environments can seem a bit flat, with nothing to really grab the eye.
The game's sound is also great, from the solid sound effects to the combined chatter of all the various ghosts you meet. You'll actually feel guilty when trying to dispatch the spirit of a young girl who's constantly burying her face in her hands and weeping. The voice acting is quite good, though there's not much range to some of the performances. Some spirits will also drop special crystals when they're banished that can be "listened" to on a "spirit radio," and some of these messages are among the best delivered and creepiest in the game. There's no in-game music (though the ending theme is a catchy song), but you won't really feel the loss of it with all the spirit activity that goes on. In fact, the lack of distracting music is a boon in such cases, as you'll be able to better track ghosts through audio cues.
Each mode offers something different for everyone.
Fatal Frame II allows you to choose from normal or hard difficulties right off the bat, and defeating the game will allow you to unlock a wide spread of extras. Besides the aforementioned survival mode (and the FPS mode that's available from the start), there's a mission mode that consists of specific challenges to test your photo-snapping skills. You'll also be able to unlock a variety of extra outfits for Mio and Mayu, including some Xbox-specific extra costumes, like a bikini (the Dead or Alive girls never had it this tough). There's even a new ending thrown into the mix, and while a play-through of the basic game will take you only about 10 hours, you're almost certainly going to want to spend more time playing with everything that's available to you.
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly Director's Cut is an absolutely great update to what was already a wonderfully spooky game. There's a little something for everyone here--first-time players can enjoy the easier traditional modes, experienced players will enjoy the added challenge of the survival mode, and the extras flesh out the game for all. If you've never plumbed the secrets of All Gods Village and you have an Xbox and a hankering for horror, this game is easily recommendable, and even if you played Fatal Frame II on the PS2, the additions made here are worth checking out.