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Parasite Eve - Retroview

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

By: Noj Airk


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 4
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 5
   Plot 9
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty Very Hard
   Time to Complete

8-25 hours

 
Overall
7
Criteria

Title Screen
 

   There is a place on the earth where evil can strike at any time. First it dominates itís current location, then it spreads. As it spreads, it kills, completely without pity or justification. This place is none other than every cell in every body of any animal alive. What all life is blissfully unaware of, is that its own being is planning a revolt. Life on this planet we call Earth is on the verge of a change in almost every way imaginable. During six days, six days that will live in infamy, the ultimate battle between good and evil will take place!

   If Iíve either confused or interested you, my intentions were both. Welcome to the world of Parasite Eve, the first big hit Square RPG since Final Fantasy VII. Itís a dark and gritty fairy tale about a biological, X-File style incident in Manhattan, that just canít decide whether it wants to be it wants to be a game, or a movie. Many say that it was used as the template for Final Fantasy VIII; however, tragically, just like Final Fantasy VIII, Parasite Eve, while entertaining and graphical, is quite slow, and not very fun.

   How is this game not fun? Well, itís a simple problem of both interface and overall design. Like all the other shaky titles of Square to follow, there is simply too much watching, and not enough doing to get to it. Whatís even worse, is the fact that you donít do much, for a long time, and repeatedly. All you have to do is find a key or two, walk down many hallways, commonly getting lost, and fight countless random battles. Each plot sequence can easily be up to an hour apart, while in that time, you do nothing but practice your abilities to win against the common monster thugs, and maybe solve a puzzle that requires simply trial and error, and maybe a two-digit IQ.


Kou says: "Youíd be such a babe if you werenít trying to kick our butts!"
Kou says: "Youíd be such a babe if you werenít trying to kick our butts!" 

   All that running around or watching is enough to annoy most any player, but the interface and design adds to any frustrations you may already have, which should be enough to upset the most patient and open minded of gamers. The interface is constricting and severely limited. While you can run with an analog stick (which helps quite a bit, trust me), running with an analog stick means working the menus with analog, which means moving uncontrollably. You are given a wide range of firearms and armors, was well as Parasite Energy abilities. You can combine two weaponsí abilities/aspects to construct the greatest weapon possible; all you need is a tool. However, this all takes practice, for as you use a tool, one of those weapons disappears, and once I was frustrated to discover that I had accidentally taken apart my favorite gun, over half an hour since saving. The main trouble with losing weapons is that the concept of buying equipment is not utilized in this game, where you only find guns, bullets, and medicines from enemies, boxes and cabinets (just like America, huh?). The walking is done on static pre-rendered backgrounds, just like in Final Fantasy VII. However, unlike FFVII, you walk really slowly; running on Parasite Eve is like walking on a Final Fantasy for the PSX. Also, this game has a really nasty habit of making its backgrounds on an eye-to-eye view, where objects and corners commonly block your view of treasure boxes or exits to the next screens.

   The battle system itself doesnít fare any better. Like the interface, itís adequate, but both constricting and slow. Like in the Final Fantasies, battles start off with a weird light show, when then you are pitched up against a few previously invisible monsters or boss. The real innovation to the battle system is the fact that you can run and dodge your enemies. However, once done of the first two out of the six days, your movement becomes almost obsolete. Eventually, the monsters will either strike you at long distances with a lightning-fast attack, or the bosses will hit you with an attack that covers the entire screen. With this, you must wait out for your ATB to fill up, in which afterward, you will be able to take a few shots. Whatís really ridiculous is that you cannot decide how many shots to fire, but rather an attachment to your gun determines how many you shoot. The ultimate machine guns allow you to fire five shots per round, but by the time you have fired each round, you could have easily been hit several times, for you are forced to stand your ground until all the roundsí shots have been fired. This, teamed up with the ridiculous HP of some enemies, makes Parasite Eve one of the most frustrating and difficult games in local history.

   On the up side, the music and sound are quite sufficient for this game. The sound effects are quite solid, and thatís all that matters with them. The script was told via text, which for once with a Square game, isnít fitting. This game can easily be classified as Survival Horror; while not one of the better entries of the genre, it should still carry out its cinematic aspects through voice acting, good or bad. I donít mind bad voice acting that much! At least corresponding with that genreís aspect is the movie like soundtrack thatís neither great nor awful. The soundtrack list of the survival horror genre is uneven itself. For instance, Resident Evil had quite possibly the worst soundtrack ever, Resident Evil 2 had a very good soundtrack, and CODE: Veronicaís musical score was amazing. Parasite Eveís is, like most of the genre, good for building emotion and cinematic power. However, when compared to those such as the better Resident Evil sound-scores, it seems rather bland. It was, however, far better than its sequelís soundtrack.


Great puzzle! If only the prize werenít just a small item!
Great puzzle! If only the prize werenít just a small item! 

   On the upside, this game had a rather unique story to go along with the disastrous gameplay. Parasite Eve tells a story about a woman named Aya Brea, an everyday cop, until one dayÖChristmas Eve, 1997. Aya agrees to go on a date with a real sleaze-ball to the opera, where a woman named Melissa Pierce is starring, waiting for Aya to come. As Melissa sings, she connects to Aya in a metaphysical way, when then the entire audience bursts into flames. Soon as you meet Eve, she starts ranting about Mitochondria; and transforms into a supernatural being called Eve.

   Mitochondria are a piece of the cells of every creature. Mitochondria burn sugar into energy; like a side-section of our cells, we depend on it to live. For years, up until the early-mid 1990ís, Mitochondria were fully looked upon as a section to our cells produced by our bodies as we develop. However, recently, some scientists have begun to look at Mitochondria as its own life form, with evolution and mutagenic speeds far greater than our own. Whatís really fascinating about Parasite Eve, is that the game is based on actual scientific theories. Basically, there is nothing preventing Parasite Eve from happening. There is even an urban legend about a college student who had his midterm in biology on the same subject matter, and instead of studying for the few days, he played Parasite Eve, and scored a 102.

   That scenario isnít entirely impossible. While skeptical many scientists and science teachers would be of the plot, the game convinces you that it is possible by throwing in countless biological facts about the human body, Mitochondria, and history of evolution. All of the facts that they tell you are true to modern science, which makes Parasite Eve all the more intriguing. However, with the perfect idea for a movie, it is narrated with conventional movie telling techniques. This game isnít original, but for once, the phrase ďTruth is stranger than fictionĒ comes into play quite well.


Funny; Aya waits until the end to ask that question...
Funny; Aya waits until the end to ask that question... 

   To go well with the cinematic aspects, Parasite Eve has some amazing visuals. The cinematics are dazzling, the pre-rendered backdrops are beautiful, and the models are nicey drawn out. What bugged me with the graphics, however, were some scenes where you look at the characters from up close, for at that range, their faces surpass the requirements for being very ugly. The game is in many ways visually stunning, but there are its down sides to it as well. The cinematics are controversial as being either amazing or awful, for some of them show images that make the Resident Evil series look like a Saturday morning cartoon.

   Parasite Eve tells a very good story, and is quite entertaining. However, it is also very frustrating with its weak interface and overly difficult bosses. Itís an unforgettable game, where all the ďgameĒ aspects may haunt you. Parasite Eve is now in the Greatest Hits section, and worth the cheap price. Enjoy! Just remember to bring some headache medicine to your Playstation console.





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