Many years ago, Capcom sent shockwaves through the gaming world with their release of Resident Evil. With a mixture of adrenaline-pumping surprise attacks, a twisted plot of monsters and mayhem, and enough blood to drown a camel, RE was the game that truly opened the eyes of the world to both the Survival Horror genre and to lots and lots of pointless gore. Ever since that day, countless Evil knock-offs have been made and each received some level of success, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when I learned that Square was jumping on the metaphorical bandwagon. Here’s my review.
It’s been three years since the incident in New York. Eve, a creature created from mutated Mitochondria within a host’s body, is now dead, and the remaining Neo-Mitochondrian Creatures, hideous mutations of normal animals, are no longer being produced. Those who survived the final battle began to wander west, bringing terror to those in their way. The top secret M.I.S.T. organization is hunting the survivors into extinction, and I just happen to be a member.
I am probably their most valued asset, considering that it was I, Aya Brea, who stopped the last Mitochondria revolution nearly single-handed. We wait for a sighting of the creatures, rush in, and eliminate them all. It’s as simple as that. Sightings are down due to the dwindling numbers of the enemy, and I really think that this battle is almost over. This war has changed my entire life, ever since I discovered what I really am… My boss, Hal, has just informed me of a possible sighting at the Akropolis Tower. Chances are that it’s a just a hoax, and even if it isn’t, it shouldn’t be any challenge. I mean, what could happen that I haven’t handled before?
A lot can happen, Aya. A lot can happen.
Parasite Eve was a game that mixed standard RPG features like levels, magic, and armor into the infamous run-for-your-life gameplay of the Survival Horror series. Instead of Square’s usual Ghosts and Goblins, Aya faced rotting polar bears and flesh eating crows in random battles. Parasite Eve 2 is an even bigger jump from the usual RPG realm. Levels have been done away with, armor merely adds to your HP and MP, and the battles are now set. The fighting system has also been rearranged. In the original, you had a time bar that slowly filled up, and during that time, you would dodge all enemy attacks that came your way. Once it was filled, you could shoot one of your many firearms, use a medical item of some sort, or send out a mutant power blast at the enemy.
In this version, there is no little time bar – you simply hit the Square button to choose a target and let loose with the R1 trigger as fast as you can to pump the enemy full of lead (One little hint: if you just hold down the button, you will shoot as fast as possible for that gun, but you have to manually push the button to reload). Magic can also be done whenever you want, but because Aya has to let her Mitochondria know what to do each time, magic immobilizes you temporarily before being used, and if you get hit during that period, the spell is cancelled. Fortunately, a cancelled spell costs no MP.
After you win a battle, you get Experience and Bounty Points. Experience can be used to buy your spells (which come in the four standard elements) or to level them up which will decrease the cost and raise the effectiveness of it, such as longer range and more power. Also, using experience completely refills you MP, forcing you to wait until you really need a boost before spending your experience. Bounty Points are used as money in order to buy better armor, guns, items, and ammo. Most of these changes help make the game run much smoother than did the original, but there was one change that I didn’t like. When you moved in the first one, you merely pointed the analog stick in whatever direction you wanted to run. Now, in order to be more Resident-Evil-like, you now have to turn left or right and then run forward. It’s not that annoying, but it should be noted.
Outside of battle, Aya searches throughout the area she is currently in for whatever items she needs to bypass the obstacles that often get in her way, such as a locked door or a blown fuse box. Each area is divided into separate rooms, and should a room contain enemies, you will have to either not be noticed by them and escape or duke it out. Whenever a battle starts, a black and white screen and a creepy heartbeat noise will notify you. If you get into a battle that you don’t feel like fighting at that moment, you can escape in exchange for a percentage of your BP. These deductions can add up, so make sure not to enter battle unprepared.
No RE copy would be complete without pointless, idiotic puzzles that require hours of searching and countless guesses to complete. Fortunately, none of PE2’s puzzles require that much time to solve, but adding them to the game seemed a bit unnecessary. There are a few of them that are optional in order for you to find a secret item or two, and these tend to be a bit better than the others. As a final note, there are several replay modes, a variety of secret weapons that are more entertaining than useful, and three endings that you see depending on how well you played. The game is a bit unoriginal, but it is surprisingly fun and addictive. Gameplay gets an 86%.
As usual, Square went a bit over the edge when it came to graphics. All characters are impressive polygons put up on a pre-drawn background. The level of character motion available was shown through the many cut scenes spread throughout the game. Details were all meticulously added including bullet casings flying, water flowing, and even the occasional limb soaring by and splattering against the wall. The light and shadow effects really stand out when you are in the darker areas. There were a few scenes where the background was animated, and I just have to say that the underground river is one of the most impressive examples of what the PlayStation can do that I have ever seen. Just stand there and really look at it. Wow.
The magic effects were a bit disappointing, including a few bright flashes of light and explosions, and they all seemed really bland compared to what Square usually dishes out. Still, every other section of the game’s look is impressive, including the FMVs. This game lacks the incredible number of movies that were plugged into “the cinematic RPG”, but there is still a nice selection. Each and every one is of the highest caliber possible for this system, which is always a nice touch. There is one movie in particular that reminded me of the opening to “Saving Private Ryan”, and incidentally, I have to ask all of you younger readers out there to get your parents permission before buying this, or at least make sure your older brother and sister drives you to get it without looking suspicious.
Finally, there are a few extra special moments where Square decided to use an FMV as the actual background, reminding me of those incredible moments from FF7 and FF8. Graphics easily get a 95%.
The music was, well, bad. There were a few of those eerily beautiful piano solos that were in the original, as well as some new songs that were quite nice, but the rest of the music was unable to even be called music. They start out with what seems like a slowly building opening, but it never gets past that point. It just keeps on repeating that same beat. It is almost impossible to really pay attention to the music without getting swept up in the game itself, however, so I think that it was made to be nothing more than background noise to keep what would otherwise be a void full.
The sound effects and voice acting made up for the music. Like the original, you were greeted with weapons blaring, flesh shredding, people screaming, and everything else you’d expect from a Survival Horror game meant to make you sleep with the lights on. Whether it’s a giant Vlakorados-like creature screaming before jumping out of the brush or the ironically peaceful murmuring of a nearby stream, all the sounds are about as real as can be.
As for the voice acting, it doesn’t accompany all of the text, but every once in a while you will have someone scream at you for some reason or another which really adds a lot to the emotional scenes. Top off all this auditory goodness with the greatest maniacal laugh since Kefka and you’ve gotten a wonderful amount background noise. Sound/Music gets an 80%.
The story told in Parasite Eve 2 was everything that a sequel should be. Building off of the bizarre story of the original, PE2 answered many of the loose ends from the original while still adding a new layer to it. Although it builds slowly in the beginning, it blossoms into a stunning government conspiracy tale mixed in with horrible, giant freaks and homicidal gorilla men. There was a slight deficiency when it came to characters, seeing as how the main cast consisted of Aya, a pair of M.I.S.T. agents, a mysterious and secretive man, and the psychotic robot, but the amount of development for each of these people was decent.
The localization job was done fairly well, but I can’t help but wonder how much fun that team must’ve had hiding all of the Coca-Cola advertisements. No matter where you go or what you do, there will always be that red logo hanging around somewhere. No one actually says Coca-Cola, but it’s pretty obvious that Square got paid a fortune in exchange for a bit of the game’s integrity. Coke rules, Pepsi drools! Following in the footsteps of PE, the plot seemed like something from a movie instead of a game. Storyline gets an 88% for making one of the few good sequels I’ve seen lately.
The movement system was ripped right out of Resident Evil and shoved into this game in order to let it fit into the Survival Horror genre, but I liked being able to move freely in the original. Although it only happened once or twice, I have found myself unable to see Aya due to big enemies getting in the way and thus unable to see which direction I was running in. I hate loading after a bad battle when I hadn’t saved for an hour or two. If I could tell which way she was facing more easily, we would have no problem. Sadly, I can’t, and Controls get a 75%.
A lot of people hated the original PE due to its slightly annoying menus and really annoying item capacity limits. It was a game that didn’t quite fit in anywhere with its original gameplay style. Square decided to go with something a bit more traditional with the sequel and wound up with a fine little game in the process. The game’s graphics and sound were everything that you’d expect from Square, and even without great music, the story and gameplay held you in. Overall, Parasite Eve 2 gets an 88%.
Gameplay – Explore the town in the middle of nowhere known as Raccoon Ci… I mean, Dryfield. 86%
Graphics – Some of these mutants make Nemesis look like a breeze. 95%
Sound/Music – No. 9! No. 9! No. 9! 80%
Storyline – It’s really, really weird. 88%
Control – As Scott Evil once put it, “Coughripoffcough”. 75%
Overall – At least Maeda’s gone. 88%