"Aya’s Long Absence"
Parasite Eve was never a series to churn out sequels one right after another. Fans of the original only had Parasite Eve 2 (which many found disappointing) for 12 years to feed their need for Eve (unless you count the movie adaptations of the original book the game is based on). Now, they get The 3rd Birthday for a handheld whose days run short. While I haven’t looked into Square’s reasons for bringing the new Eve to the PSP instead of the PS3, it is still nice to have a sequel.
The game begins much like the others – Aya is up against those mutated beasties (a life form called the Twisted causing most of the chaos here) and needs to save the city from them. The story, overall, is pretty basic J-gaming fare. It is a far cry from the first, and (for better or worse) there are no reasons to have knowledge of the first two games' stories. Simply put – it’s nothing to write home about. With three games, movies, and an original source (the novel) – Aya has had plenty of time to give us a dynamic, rich, and wonderful character. It’s a shame because she comes off a bit irritating and completely irrational as a main heroine. Condsidering they have also wiped her memory clean in this game, so any potential for starting the character off richly detailed is gone, faltering into a ‘memory recovery’ story.
- Aya's back in the city-saving saddle -
Still, the 3rd Birthday marks some interesting concepts. First, gone are the mostly RPG tactics, the third-person shooting gameplay making way past the RPG elements. Yet, stat building still exists – and it gives a nice feel of progression for forging a stronger character. Second, Aya has the ability to leap into the dead bodies of soldiers and use them until they are on the verge of death. If there is another nearby, you can then hop into it and use that one. While using this ability (called overdrive, and markedly the best part of the game), Aya can damage creatures heavily. This makes for some great fun. In fact, most of the game's satisfaction comes from leaping from body to body.
However, this leaves the fans of the first Parasite Eve still hanging on their rope. With The 3rd Birthday we still do not have a return to the RPG roots of the first (as PE2 was almost completely a survival-horror). The 3rd Birthday won’t deliver that to them. For me, I am just thankful the random encounters have long been absent from the series, though I enjoyed the battles in the first PE immensely, and I feel they could have gone back to that system, making it more dynamic instead of giving us an unpolished third-person shooter.
Unfortunately, any brilliance and entertaining gameplay is burdened by rough controls. Though I am a fan of the PSP and its set up, The 3rd Birthday feels like it should have been designed for another console and another controller… it doesn’t feel tight, and it often gets frustrating. Not only that, but the game isn’t the easiest. Even with the level up progression (coming in the form of new and better guns and OE chips which give Aya new abilities), the game hardly seems to get easier. Not that a challenge is a bad thing, but the wonky controls make it that much more so. Even with great and beautiful level design, wonderful-looking beasties, and the fast-paced feeling – most Parasite Eve fans are going to feel betrayed and wonder what happened between then and now.
- There's a lot to like here, but perhaps nothing to love -
While the graphics are great for the platform, the ambience doesn’t seem to live up to the original. Even attempting to strip Parasite Eve from my mind gives it no more clout. If one were to play this game as a whole new entity (which some will), you will find a lackluster game with nothing to note aside from a couple of cool tricks and ideas. I’m sure Aya will make a return to us again… hopefully in better form and not 12 years later.
GameDynamo's Score for The 3rd Birthday (PSP)
Three things describe Rando: Good beer, good food, and video games. On occasion, Rando flies a zeppelin through time seeking power crystals.
[View The 3rd Birthday images / screenshots +]
[Watch The 3rd Birthday videos / trailers +]
[View more The 3rd Birthday articles (news, previews, reviews) +]
[View The 3rd Birthday cheats / guides +]
More from GameDynamo