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If I wanted to play Resident Evil...
Parasite Eve wasn't the best game to grace the PlayStation by far, but it had its charms. As Square had been deeply embedded in the RPG genre, they took a stab at horror, but kept many RPG elements. For example, separate battle screens and magic spells to name a couple. The result was not really horror, but it wasn't a flop either. Many people said good things -- at least until they reached the Chrysler building.
Square decided to continue the series, and many fans hoped for improvement on the different elements that made the original a success. What was given was a Resident Evil clone, with almost all of the unique things from Parasite Eve ripped out, and replaced with mechanics that simply didn't work. Gone were customizable guns, the battle screens, and the simplistic movement. Instead there was only the M4A1 rifle that could be customized with one attachment at a time, and a movement/targeting system that made battles much harder than they needed to be.
It is one thing to have challenging monsters, it is another thing entirely to have a challenging control system. With the adaptation of the "turn and run" movement system, avoiding a blast of flame or a claw swipe becomes much harder. Instead of surviving by reaction time, dodging requires anticipating the enemies' moves before they are even made. Early in the game enemies will signal that they are about to attack. Late in the game, this courtesy is either forgotten, or the attacks have enough status effects to render Aya useless beforehand. Instead of slow-witted zombies, Aya is against fast-moving mutant humans, horses, and other creatures. When reloading a weapon, or releasing parasite energy (magic), Aya cannot be hit or the action will be canceled and have to be repeated. The only good thing about the battle engine is the complete lack of physics, allowing Aya to run straight through the enemy, which almost always offers the best chance to avoid attack.
The graphics are the best part of the game hands down. With typical Square precision and talent, the FMV once again brings the game alive, though only for a few moments. The polygonial world isn't too shabby either. Great detail has been put into the backgrounds, the items, and the characters. However, there are only five distinct places to explore: the tiny M.I.S.T. headquarters, the top of Akropolis Tower, Dryfield, a town in the middle the Mojave Desert, a small mine, and a commercial underground shelter, akin to Area 51 for mutants instead of aliens.
Unlike the original that allowed Aya to explore any part of New York that she had already been to, the story for the sequel is very linear. Each time Aya reaches a new destination, the way to return is blocked. With no way to explore old areas, time must be taken to make sure everything is collected before moving on, because there won't be another chance until after the game has been completed. Completeing the game wins opens bonuses like the original. Playing through again allows to see the second ending, as well as opens up four more spells.
The reviewer would like to note that the difficulty is ranked medium as an average. The beginning areas will give Aya no trouble, and that will continue to be the case with the exception of a few long lasting battles. Near the end of the game, after a certain plot twist, the game's intensity and difficulty increases substantially. Suddenly enemies can require up to 200 shots before going down. More numerous and powerful enemies inhabit every corridor, and each fight may be Aya's last. And this isn't including the actual bosses left to take care of.
The entire game comes down to how many items Aya still has left in reserve. This is not as easy as it sounds. Aya can only carry 20 items, and she will not be able to increase it this time around. This means Aya must use the item boxes available repeatedly. Since there are boxes Aya will not see for hours, leaving behind a key weapon may make passage impossible. Carrying all the ammo and weapons makes using items almost impossible. As the story progesses along, cutting off access, it may be a long time until a specific box is reachable. Each item box has its own item list, so Aya can't leave an item in Dryfield and expect it to be at the mine unless Aya brought it with her. To narrow down the items further, Aya can only use five to eight items in battle that she attached to her armor beforehand. This includes any alternate weapons, ammo, and healing items Aya may need for a battle. A very, very bad item design.
The sound is fairly realistic and well placed. Different rooms can have different sounds, and a lot of effort was put into building up the aura of the scenes. There were, however, long parts with no music at all. It made the game seem to drag on and on as Aya would have to explore the same buildings for hours at a time for either new clues, retrieving more free ammo, or to clean out the mutants for money and experience points.
Parasite Eve II is yet another sequel that manages to tarnish the name of a game that should've been left alone. In short, if you want to play a Resident Evil type game, get Resident Evil. If you want a horror RPG, replay the original Parasite Eve.
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