In the past, Square was known for creating games that grabbed you five minutes after getting home from your local gaming store, wrapped you comfortably in the warming glow of your television, and kept you up long hours into the night with plots so thick and graphics so bright that you would forget about your life for a few dozen hours so you could help the hopeful characters who danced across the screen in a ballet of clubs, monsters, kingdoms, and really pointy objects. I have come to decide that Parasite Eve was truly the herald of night for Square’s games. This was the last Square game that I truly appreciated and that deserved the company’s name.
Based in New York City (I LOVE when the games come over here!), Parasite Eve is the “M” rated story of Aya Brea, NYPD rookie and biological mutation. Clad in a slit dress, the story begins with the blonde bio-freak going to the opera with… some… guy, I suppose (If he has a name, I won’t get upset at your angry letters. Please let me know.), and all is going well until the main star of the production sings a heart-warming solo, igniting the passions and body parts of almost everyone in the audience. Aya, who is unaffected by the morbid melody, pulls out her pistol and chases the woman in red. Does she find the culprit, or does she find her destiny? (Insert scary mystery music now)
Gameplay is a big help to this game. Although there are times when the menus get confusing, this game was one of Square’s first to use the analog paddle, and it was used well. Movement throughout NY is done on an overhead map, which is viewed from one of those Action News Skycopter things. Simply select which area you’re heading to and you’re there. Each section of the city is made up of a collection of scrolling areas that you wander through, collecting firearms and ammunition (you find them in the weirdest places…), medical supplies, or bulletproof vests and riot gear.
Battles use an almost exact copy of the method used in Vagrant Story, even though VS was the one to copy it, where you walk throughout the scene and pick an enemy to hit that is within your Attack Globe. However, unlike in Vagrant Story, you have to wait for your time gauge to fill up before you can act, the enemy attacks don’t automatically hit, giving you a chance to dodge their fireballs or lasers or really pointy objects that I mentioned earlier, and jumping is not necessary because the fields are far less 3D.
Money is gone, but you still gather Experience and items, level up, and learn Parasite powers over time. Parasite powers use up your PE (Parasite Points. I think she might want to have that looked at…) which regenerates in Battle naturally. Items can be used to improve your weapon or armor by a few points, and each equipment can hold a certain number of special abilities like knock-out bullets, poison-proof armor, or a shotgun spread attack on your gun. You can choose from pistols, rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, shotguns, bazookas (fun for ages three and up), or your trusty nightstick. Gameplay gets a 92%
Graphics can be impressive one day and pathetic the next, so I will rate this game on its graphics at the time. PE used polygonal characters (pixilated, but not horribly) on a 2D background, much like Final Fantasy 7. All of the enemies are well animated and each one has a veritable plethora of physically detrimental techniques to release upon the Ally-McBeal-thin Aya with horrendous, head-hemorrhaging effects. Finally, the FMVs in this game are so high quality and frequent that it put every other game at the time to shame. From giant blobs to exploding rats, this game was called “the cinematic RPG” for a reason. Graphics get a hefty 95%
PE’s story is a little less impressive. When I finished the game, I was reminded of those 50’s horror movies that we all love to see so much. The plot includes an over-obsessive scientist explaining a theory on 10th grade biology, gigantic earthworms, centipedes, and many other slimy, creepy critters, an atomic baby of death (I’m not joking, although it is pretty funny), and a surprise ending worthy of William Shakespeare’s little brother. However, the characters pack a lot of emotion into the dialogue and the plot twists and graphic FMVs will keep you on the edge of your seat like a Silent Hill Light probably would. Not a good Horror game, but an above average horror movie. Story gets an 80%.
Tearing flesh, screaming birds, opera music, and high-impact projectiles make this game an auditory delight. The sound effects make a big impact on the overall mood of this game, and the music also fits very well with the horror effect they tried to build. However, the soundtrack is pretty slim, the songs are hard to notice (They build up the game through subliminal messages. You will buy the crappy new Square games, you will buy the crappy new Square games…), and the overall auditory effect still is shadowed by the mighty visual tower that this game has created. The sound is very good, but just can’t make the jump to great. A noble 89% is given to sound.
Control is a topic that’s hard to talk about for long, so I won’t try. The controls in battle were revolutionary, smooth, responsive, and, in my opinion, better than Vagrant Story’s remake of them. The analog stick allowed flawless mobility outside of battle and backgrounds hardly ever stop you when there isn’t anything in the way. The only possible flaw is that no game has ever managed to let the analog stick move through menus well, and this game is no exception. Controls get a 95%.
This game has excitement, drama, action, and everything else you’d want in a movie. With an extra difficulty setting that you earn by beating the game, PE’s replay value is enough to bring you back at least once. It even has a bonus ending to unlock if you’re good enough to beat the secret level that can be found, and to top it all off, the game lets you see many of the sights of New York without all the travel. This cinematic story gets a 90%.
Gameplay – Originality and effectiveness rarely mix this well. 92%
Graphics – That rat sure did get big. Must’ve been the biggest rat I ever saw. 95%
Story – “The Horror of Central Park! Coming Soon!” 80%
Sound – That rat sure was loud. Must’ve been the loudest rat I ever heard. 89%
Control – As Homer once said, “Loose and billowy”. I wonder what he meant? 95%
Overall – Like I said, this is a true Square masterpiece. Buy it if you’re old enough. 90%