Parasite Eve

a game by Psygnosis, and Squaresoft
Platforms: Playstation PSX
Genre: Action
Rating: 7/10

Description

Of all the games covered in this feature, none will come under as much scrutiny as the next high-profile RPG from the people who brought us Final Fantasy VII. After all, it's rare for something to affect the tastes of the game-playing public on quite the scale that FFVII managed last year--but Square pulled it off and at the same time brought RPGs into the mass market.

Yet Square's next big thing, Parasite Eve, is actually a very different game from its predecessor; the traditional swords-'n'-sorcery themes have been entirely eschewed in favor of something with more of a science-fiction flavor. To say that it has a lot in common with lapanese sci-fi anime such as Akira or even (in places) some of the Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend stories wouldn't be too far from the truth.

PE makes use of a modified version of the FFVII game engine so, once again, we find beautifully rendered backgrounds overlaid with polygon-generated characters. Set in New York, the game is based on a novel by acclaimed lapanese sci-fi author Hideaki Sena that was published 18 months ago in Japan. Centered on the experiences of Aya Brea, a rookie NYPD cop, it deals with her investigations into the spread of a freak of nature that is gradually laying siege to the city.

The game begins on Christmas Eve and sees Aya and her boyfriend at an opera that's thrown into turmoil as the actors on stage spontaneously combust. Amidst the confusion, the apparent perpetrator (the eponymous Eve) reveals herself as she announces the ascension of a new order, that of the Mitochondria.

Upon further investigation, Aya discovers that Mitochondria is the organic matter contained within all living cells responsible for producing energy. It soon becomes apparent that Eve's Mitochondria has mutated to the point of sentience, and through her it's attempting to annihilate all inferior life-forms. As this parasitic energy absorbs life energy, it transforms Eve into a superbeing that can switch between solid and liquid form, while also destroying living matter simply by looking at it.

Once absorbed by the mutated Mitochondria, a living being is broken down completely into a slimy goo before being rebuilt as a more powerful creature--often a combination of numerous animals or even plants that are instilled with Eve's malevolent intent. As the game progresses, Eve's parasite sets up a "nest" in the Central Park Zoo, and before long snakes, bears, birds and monkeys all get horribly mutated, as Eve continues to rampage through the city.

Fortunately though, with all of these mutations hell-bent on destroying the world, Aya is armed with a fair amount of weaponry. Starting the game with an automatic handgun, she later picks up more powerful weapons. Control of the combat has evolved quite significantly since FFVII, too. Although the system used is fundamentally the same--with Active-Time bars filling up as you prepare for each attack--Aya can move around the battleground in real time to avoid taking damage. And just as Cloud can increase his abilities with Materia in FFVII, Aya soon learns to manipulate the Mitochondria (or "Parasite Energy" as it's referred to in the game) within her own system. Just as you'd expect, battles can get spectacular.

What really sets PE apart is that it's a true international collaboration between noted Japanese and U.S. talent. Script writer and game designer Takayuki Tokita has previously been responsible for Chrono Trigger and FFIV, while battle designer Yoshihiko Maekawa was the director on both Super Mario RPG and FFVI. U.S. artists Steve Gray and Darnell Williams are both in charge of much of the CG work throughout the game, and Gray is noted for his work on the movies True Lies and Apollo 13. Finally, musician Yoko Shimomura composed for Super Mario RPG and Front Mission.

This broader, collaborative approach to development along with the adoption of a more mainstream sci-fi story should help push PE into as many homes as its predecessor. The game hits Japan on March 29. Let's just hope we see the U.S. release soon after.

User Reviews

Overview

Square, the company famous for RPGs, has teamed up with the software publishing giant Electronic Arts and released its first title under the Square Electronic Arts name. The name is not the only thing that is different for Square. Parasite Eve is a huge departure from the traditional fantasy RPG that Square is known for. The question is, can they pull off a game that is not set in a fantasy world? The answer? Hell yes.

Parasite Eve is a little bit of a bunch of different game genres. It is part RPG, part adventure game, part Resident Evil clone and part CG movie. Instead of the usual fantasy world setting, this game takes place in New York City. You are a new cop on the beat, and it is up to you figure out the mysteries that are thrown in front of you. A real-time battle system, tons of armor and a great storyline make this game a tough one to put down even for a minute.

Gameplay

I have a tiny confession to make. This is not easy for me to say, but I feel that it needs to be said. Here goes. I have never played any of the Final Fantasy games. I never even played FF7 for the PSX, so this was really my first exposure to a Square game. I have heard this, that and the other thing about the games, but I had yet to actually live one. After playing this game for a few minutes, it was very obvious to me why the company has the reputation it does.

Since I have not played the FF games, I can only go by what I have read and what I have been told. I have not been living under a rock, so I have a pretty good idea what the whole storyline and setting is all about. With that said, Parasite Eve will not look or feel like any other Square RPG to date. Actually, the closest game I can think of to describe the gameplay is Resident Evil, and it is really quite different from that. I think what makes it different from the FF games is that the game is actually set in New York City in 1997. I really enjoyed the fact that they tried to make this game as realistic in terms of atmosphere and characters as possible. I guess this is why it has the Resident Evil feel to it. The look and feel is about the only similarity that it does have with RE, which is good, because they easily could have changed a few things and made it a rip-off type game. Nobody wants to see that from Square, and thankfully you won't.

While playing through games I review, I am always thinking of what I will say about this or that. For some reason, I was not really thinking about it at all when I was playing this game. What this tells me is that I was so involved and drawn in by this game that I was actually playing the game just to play and not to review. Well, duty calls and here I am trying to review the game. I can and will tell you about it, but this paragraph should speak louder than anything else I could say. The game was good enough to draw me in to the point that I stopped paying attention to the game as a game, but I played it like I was playing through a movie or something. I can probably count on one hand the number of times that a game has had this effect on me, and I have played a lot of games.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, let's talk a little about the game itself. You play as Aya Brea, a rookie cop in New York. The game starts out on Christmas Eve with Aya being escorted to the opera. This is not a usual event for Aya, but something had drawn her to the opera on this night. During the opera, things suddenly go wrong. The performers on stage start bursting into flames and then the audience also starts spontaneously combusting. Before long, the entire building is burning and everyone has burned to death except for two people, Aya and Eve, the lead of the opera. This is where your adventure begins. All of this is set up by incredible CG sequences that are so real-looking that in some cases you will not be able to tell if it is actual video or if it is still CG scenes. Talk about awesome.

The actual gameplay reminds me of a combination point-and-click adventure game (without the pointing and clicking) and a RPG. The reason that I say it reminds me of a point-and-click adventure game is because you walk around in 3D environments searching for clues, talking to people and gathering everything from medicine to keys. It resembles a RPG in that there are tons of conversations going on and they are all in good old text. You will spend a great deal of time reading. I guess this was kind of lame, but it is pretty much standard RPG stuff. Also, Aya gains experience points and other valuable traits from winning battles, which is also pretty standard RPG fare.

The battle system in this game is real-time, not turn-based, which is a big plus in my book. The game does have a random attack system, which is a negative, but it was not as bad as some. The attacks were not as frequent as in some other games, but I still prefer being able to see an enemy and try to avoid it if you so desire. Anyway, during the battle I would fight whatever monster had brought me into battle and a lot of the time I would have numerous opponents against me. You will start the game armed with a police issue club and handgun, and you will quickly find that ammo is usually at a premium. You may think you have plenty but when you make it to the boss, you never have enough. There were times that the enemies (especially the bosses) would pin me against the wall or in a corner and it was pretty tough to get away, which I thought was a bit cheap but not overly so.

The thing that really made me like this game so much was the whole storyline and environment. Everything from the monsters (wait until you see the three-headed dog) to the cityscape was done to perfection. While the people looked stiff and the animation was poor, it really did not diminish the overall environment. Couple that with a storyline that I won't even start to explain, and what you end up with is a great gaming experience.

Graphics

This game has some of the best CG scenes around. The mutating monsters look absolutely incredible, and some of the clips are hard to tell if they are actually video. The in-game graphics are not quite as good, but they definitely get the job done. Everything is real-time 3D and the game suffers from no noticeable slowdown. To nitpick a little, it was a bit annoying when the characters would reach down to pick up the phone and act like they were lifting the receiver up to their ear, but the receiver just stayed on the hook. I guess it took away from the overall realistic feel of the game, but like I said, this is really nitpicky.

Bottom Line

It looks like I have a new favorite game for the time being. I really enjoyed this one. It was nice to play a RPG-type game that was set in a real-world environment instead of some faraway mystical land. This review does not even scratch the surface of everything that makes up this game. I don't want to ruin any of the storyline for you, so be prepared for plenty of plot twists and turns and lots of characters being introduced. There was a little too much text at times and it slowed the game a little, but not enough to really turn me off. I guess it is a good thing that the review is coming to a close because thanks to Parasite Eve, I have a stack of games on my desk that I have not even opened.

reggie posted a review

Overview

Square, the company famous for RPGs, has teamed up with the software publishing giant Electronic Arts and released its first title under the Square Electronic Arts name. The name is not the only thing that is different for Square. Parasite Eve is a huge departure from the traditional fantasy RPG that Square is known for. The question is, can they pull off a game that is not set in a fantasy world? The answer? Hell yes.

Parasite Eve is a little bit of a bunch of different game genres. It is part RPG, part adventure game, part Resident Evil clone and part CG movie. Instead of the usual fantasy world setting, this game takes place in New York City. You are a new cop on the beat, and it is up to you figure out the mysteries that are thrown in front of you. A real-time battle system, tons of armor and a great storyline make this game a tough one to put down even for a minute.

Gameplay

I have a tiny confession to make. This is not easy for me to say, but I feel that it needs to be said. Here goes. I have never played any of the Final Fantasy games. I never even played FF7 for the PSX, so this was really my first exposure to a Square game. I have heard this, that and the other thing about the games, but I had yet to actually live one. After playing this game for a few minutes, it was very obvious to me why the company has the reputation it does.

Since I have not played the FF games, I can only go by what I have read and what I have been told. I have not been living under a rock, so I have a pretty good idea what the whole storyline and setting is all about. With that said, Parasite Eve will not look or feel like any other Square RPG to date. Actually, the closest game I can think of to describe the gameplay is Resident Evil, and it is really quite different from that. I think what makes it different from the FF games is that the game is actually set in New York City in 1997. I really enjoyed the fact that they tried to make this game as realistic in terms of atmosphere and characters as possible. I guess this is why it has the Resident Evil feel to it. The look and feel is about the only similarity that it does have with RE, which is good, because they easily could have changed a few things and made it a rip-off type game. Nobody wants to see that from Square, and thankfully you won't.

While playing through games I review, I am always thinking of what I will say about this or that. For some reason, I was not really thinking about it at all when I was playing this game. What this tells me is that I was so involved and drawn in by this game that I was actually playing the game just to play and not to review. Well, duty calls and here I am trying to review the game. I can and will tell you about it, but this paragraph should speak louder than anything else I could say. The game was good enough to draw me in to the point that I stopped paying attention to the game as a game, but I played it like I was playing through a movie or something. I can probably count on one hand the number of times that a game has had this effect on me, and I have played a lot of games.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, let's talk a little about the game itself. You play as Aya Brea, a rookie cop in New York. The game starts out on Christmas Eve with Aya being escorted to the opera. This is not a usual event for Aya, but something had drawn her to the opera on this night. During the opera, things suddenly go wrong. The performers on stage start bursting into flames and then the audience also starts spontaneously combusting. Before long, the entire building is burning and everyone has burned to death except for two people, Aya and Eve, the lead of the opera. This is where your adventure begins. All of this is set up by incredible CG sequences that are so real-looking that in some cases you will not be able to tell if it is actual video or if it is still CG scenes. Talk about awesome.

The actual gameplay reminds me of a combination point-and-click adventure game (without the pointing and clicking) and a RPG. The reason that I say it reminds me of a point-and-click adventure game is because you walk around in 3D environments searching for clues, talking to people and gathering everything from medicine to keys. It resembles a RPG in that there are tons of conversations going on and they are all in good old text. You will spend a great deal of time reading. I guess this was kind of lame, but it is pretty much standard RPG stuff. Also, Aya gains experience points and other valuable traits from winning battles, which is also pretty standard RPG fare.

The battle system in this game is real-time, not turn-based, which is a big plus in my book. The game does have a random attack system, which is a negative, but it was not as bad as some. The attacks were not as frequent as in some other games, but I still prefer being able to see an enemy and try to avoid it if you so desire. Anyway, during the battle I would fight whatever monster had brought me into battle and a lot of the time I would have numerous opponents against me. You will start the game armed with a police issue club and handgun, and you will quickly find that ammo is usually at a premium. You may think you have plenty but when you make it to the boss, you never have enough. There were times that the enemies (especially the bosses) would pin me against the wall or in a corner and it was pretty tough to get away, which I thought was a bit cheap but not overly so.

The thing that really made me like this game so much was the whole storyline and environment. Everything from the monsters (wait until you see the three-headed dog) to the cityscape was done to perfection. While the people looked stiff and the animation was poor, it really did not diminish the overall environment. Couple that with a storyline that I won't even start to explain, and what you end up with is a great gaming experience.

Graphics

This game has some of the best CG scenes around. The mutating monsters look absolutely incredible, and some of the clips are hard to tell if they are actually video. The in-game graphics are not quite as good, but they definitely get the job done. Everything is real-time 3D and the game suffers from no noticeable slowdown. To nitpick a little, it was a bit annoying when the characters would reach down to pick up the phone and act like they were lifting the receiver up to their ear, but the receiver just stayed on the hook. I guess it took away from the overall realistic feel of the game, but like I said, this is really nitpicky.

Bottom Line

It looks like I have a new favorite game for the time being. I really enjoyed this one. It was nice to play a RPG-type game that was set in a real-world environment instead of some faraway mystical land. This review does not even scratch the surface of everything that makes up this game. I don't want to ruin any of the storyline for you, so be prepared for plenty of plot twists and turns and lots of characters being introduced. There was a little too much text at times and it slowed the game a little, but not enough to really turn me off. I guess it is a good thing that the review is coming to a close because thanks to Parasite Eve, I have a stack of games on my desk that I have not even opened.

reggie posted a review

If you've been keeping up with our coverage of Parasite Eve--Square's next big thing--for the past few months, you already know it's the collaborative effort of Final Fantasy VH's main development staff and a group of Flollywood digital-effects gurus. You already know its gripping story--featuring the seemingly X-F/'/es-inspired exploits of NYPD detective Aya Brea--is based on a best-selling Japanese sci-fi novel. You already know it runs off a highly modified FFVII engine, with 16-Bit color backgrounds and art by Tetsuya Nomura, character designer for FFVII, FFVIII and Brave Fencer Musashiden. And you already know you're probably going to buy the dang thing when it ships in September.

So what's left to tell? Well...lots. After playing through a beta English version of the first disc in this two-disc adventure, we've found PE to be Square's least conventional RPG to date (well, at least if you ignore some of the stranger pre-32-Bit titles Square released only in Japan). In fact, PE--which Square is labeling a "cinematic RPG"--has even more in common with the Resident Evil games than we originally believed.

Let's tick off the similarities, shall we. Like Resident Evil 2, PE is set in the true-grime cityscapes of a modern American megalopolis (well, OK, maybe PE's Manhattan is a bit bigger than RE2's Raccoon City). And, sure enough, Aya traipses through where-have-l-seen-that-before settings such as a besieged police station and morgue, deserted city streets and sewers. There are even a few points in PE where monsters burst suddenly from behind two-way mirrors and other hidden areas, thus creating some of the crap-your-pants suspense of the RE games. Aya also wields, among other things, a rocket launcher that can dispense acid and incendiary rockets. Cripes, even the games' names--Parasite Eve and Resident Evil--sound similar.

But then there's the RPG side to PE. Beyond just earning experience points and gaining levels from successful battles, Aya also earns bonus points. These you can allocate to quicken the pace of Aya's battle timer or increase the number of items she can carry in her inventory. You can even spend the points on Aya's various weapons and armor, making them more effective.

Speaking of weapons, Aya will come across a varied arsenal of bang-bang gear, including handguns, shotguns, rifles and machine guns (as well as clubs and other melee weapons). Each weapon has its own range and shots-per-turn characteristics. But here's the cool part: A special tool item lets you strip parts off one gun and add it to another, giving you the ability to modify and supercharge your favorite firearm (at the expense of trashing other guns). The same tool also lets you modify armor, too.

Our run through the first disc revealed numerous plot twists regarding the relationship between Aya and Eve, PE's mitochondria-mutating superviltain. But we're not about to spoil your fun by revealing them here. You'll just have to wait until the game's September release to see just how exciting--and weird--Manhattan can get on a Christmas Eve.

Stick And Move

Another innovation in this already unconventional RPG is the battle system, which combines the "Active Timer" turn-based combat of FFVII with the keep-your-feet-movin' battles of The Granstream Saqa. When you encounter a party of monsters (which usually happens only once per area, instead of randomly), Aya's attack timer immediately begins priming. You can move her wherever you wish in the combat area, dodging the attacks of the baddies, who can also roam freely. A tap of the X Button snaps Aya into Fight Mode once her gauge is full. Now she can attack any enemies in range (the limits of which are shown by a green geodesic hemisphere), target multiple baddies (most guns shoot more than one bullet) or summon Parasite Energy spells.

  • MANUFACTURER - Square Co. Ltd.
  • THEME - RPG
reggie posted a review
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