Parasite Eve 2
Square's Parasite Eve was an early experiment in creating a "cinematic" video game. It looked fantastic, but its short length left some players cold. Square's honed their graphical skills over the course of several games--so why not give their modern-day series another go?
Heroine Aya Brea returns, and several years younger, thanks to the retrograde aging effect of her personal mitochondria. She's left the NYPD and joined up with the Feds: FBI, MIST (Mitochondria Investigation and Suppression Team) division. MIST is a top-secret, X-Files-like government bureau that deals with and covers up Neo-Mitochondrion Creature-related incidents. Ever since the New York episode, dangerously mutated creatures have been popping up all over the nation. Aya and a team of experts are the nation's first line of defense. Her adventure takes her from the Akropolis Tower in the heart of Los Angeles to the sandy wastelands of the Mojave Desert and beyond. Seemingly isolated incidents start to form a pattern, and Aya begins to suspect a conspiracy behind the rise in NMC activity.
If the original Parasite Eve was a traditional RPG with survival-horror elements, then the sequel is a survival-horror title with RPG elements. Resident Evil-style locales (complete with auto-map) replace RPG-style field maps. Control, as in most survival-horror titles, is now character-relative. A large number of (often illogical) logic puzzles stand between the player and success; the sequel also places greater emphasis on the proper use of a "key item" inventory.
With all these gameplay changes, a totally revamped battle system should come as no surprise. Gone are the expanding wireframe spheres and breaks in the action. Gamers now shoot, reload, dodge and take damage in real time: Select your target and hope for the best. Aya's arsenal includes pistols, submachine guns, rifles, shotguns and even grenade launchers; more powerful weapons have effects such as splash damage upon impact. Unfortunately, the first game's extensive weapon customization system has all but disappeared. More powerful weapons and armor are purchased using a "currency."
For some foes, a shotgun blast to the head just won't cut it. That's why Aya has "magic." (They call it Parasite Energy, but trust us, it's magic.) By summoning the inherent power of her sub-cellular organisms, Aya can access eight separate "spells." These range from a directed energy blast and a radial shockwave to status/HP replenishment and a defensive shell. Spells are unlocked by spending experience points earned in battle and can be upgraded several times with further experience expenditures. Is it an adventure-RPG or an RPG-adventure? No one knows for sure. Except for its sexy heroine, Parasite Eve II has little in common with its predecessor.
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Square's first neo-survival-horror game spawned from an unlikely source. Based on a mediocre made-for-video Japanese movie. The original Parasite Eve was a problematic, but well-intentioned effort that took the prerendered background style of Final Fantasy VII, and packed it full of polygonal characters and monsters in a modern-day urban setting. When we first met Aya Brea, she was a rookie detective (shyeah right!) in the 17th Precinct of the N.Y.P.D. who found herself on the hunt for one Melissa Pearce, who would later become the twisted firestarter known as Eve. Fast forward two years later and Aya is no longer on the force. Instead she's part of an elite group (M.I.S.T.=Mitochondria Investigation and Suppression Team) of hunters whose primary goal is to track down the creatures (NMCs) this mitochondria Spawned and destroy them. This time around, Aya and company have ditched the RPG pretensions of the original game and gone straight for Capcom's bread-and-butter. While the name "Resident Evil" will most likely pop up in most gamers' minds, PEII is more than just a rip-off.
Through the use of Aya's parasite-powers, the game adds a certain level of strategy by giving the gamer a number of choices in battle: Attack with your equipped firearm, launch a devastating fireball, or conserve that parasite energy for an emergency healing session? Also, the "proximity web" has been refined since the first PE--now it's used simply to aim magic attacks. Otherwise Aya auto-aims at the push of a button. An excellent addition to the growing roster of survival-horror games out there, Parasite Eve II should bring fans of the first flocking back for more, while the more action-intense gameplay wilt entice those who didn't cotton to Square's "cinematic RPG."
I really liked the first Parasite Eve (except for the impossibly difficult/cheesy final boss, and the crappy "bonus" tower thrown as a replay incentive), and despite the significant stylistic changes made, I really like the sequel. Square has taken the Resident Evil route and gone for full-on survival-horror with a psychic twist. While the first was a halfway house between FFVII and RE, it wasn't enough of either to make a significant impact upon its release. At least PEI I has made its mind up. I dig the game. It controls about as well as any of the RE games--a little wooden at times, and there are often so many enemies onscreen at once the auto-aim function has a hard time keeping up, but overall it works all right. What I don't dig is that the weapon customization aspect has been under-emphasized to the point of being almost non existent. It's not altogether gone, mind you, but the innate thrill of finding parts and upgrading the hell out of your piece has been dumbed down considerably. The puzzles also tend to be a bit tedious and vague in their duelessness. In its favor, the graphics have taken a turn for the better as character models and backgrounds have been beefed-up. However, pressing X to walk up and down stairs is lame, and the dearth of voice-acting makes for an often solitary experience. Still, PEII is the second best survival-horror game you're likely to play, and is certainly worth a shot.
Technically I guess this is a survival horror game, but Parasite Eve II reties far more on trippy mind games than the pure shock value of hellspawn creatures jumping out around every corner. Since this is Squaresoft it almost goes without saying that the plot and presentation is well above-average. The control, on the other hand, is pretty much the same as the Resident Evil series. I should be used to this by now I guess, but it usually reduces each battle to two combatants taking shots at one another, each hoping they last the longest. Nonetheless, PEÏ Is an enjoyabEe experience (for the roughly 12 hours it lasts). PE Fans won't want to miss it.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Resident Evil-style gameplay of PE II. Sure, it still has an RPG feel some of the time (thanks to and the way the battles are set up, among other things) but it's also a solid addition to a short list of worthwhile survival horror games. In a sense, it fits into a new genre: Adventure RPG. Nice thing is, Square hasn't tried too hard to integrate the adventure stuff into this sequel. It all feels right--like a Parasite Eve game. The whole thing is still very cinematic, and features some really disturbing rendered sequences. If you liked the first game, this one--even though it has evolved--won't steer you wrong.