The 3rd Birthday is the third installment in the Parasite Eve franchise that was released back on the first generation of the PlayStation console. Releasing exclusively on the PSP, The 3rd Birthday introduces a new type of gameplay to the series. From the slow paced-action that fans were accustomed to in the past two games, The 3rd Birthday now offers a slightly fast-paced third person shooter mixed with RPG elements.
A month before its official release in North America and Europe, I finally had a chance to play the North American version of the game. I will pretty much talk about the first two episodes of the game as I’m embargoed on my hands-on article.
Just like the past two Parasite Eve games, the 3rd Birthday follows the story of Aya Brea in Manhattan, New York. After the devastated attack and outbreak of the so-called “Twisted” in Manhattan, Aya must go back to the past using the Overdrive machine and find a way to stop the chaos. Without knowing who she is and where she came from, Aya must find her true identity. Since I haven’t play past the second chapter, I have no idea if this game has any connection to the past two Parasite Eve games.
The battle system of The 3rd Birthday has some similarities to the past Parasite Eve games. It’s still a run-and-gun shooter, but this time it’s more fast-paced and has a new twist. Using her “Overdrive” ability, Aya can dive into the body of an NPC whenever its health goes low. By diving into someone, Aya regains health, and she can use this ability as many times as she wants as long as the NPCs on the screen are kept alive. At some point in the game, Aya can team up with those NPCs by taking down enemies with crossfire attacks, helps to conserve ammo. Her “Liberation” ability, which allows her to become invisible for several seconds and deal massive damage to the enemy, is perfect for sneak attacks or to take out tough opponents.
Without having a second analog stick, I thought it would play poorly but I was wrong. Thanks to the solid controls of the game, shooting is a lot easier. Pressing the L button auto-aims at the enemy and the R button fires Aya’s weapon. There are a lot of weapons in the game that Aya can use, which helps make combat varied. As you get far into the game, not only can Aya dive into the NPC, she can also dive into machines and other things.
After each of the missions, Aya goes back to the present, where she can pick up the next mission. If you want to get some plot information or replay the missions, this is where you can do so. Keeping NPCs alive and not dying in each episode are some of the factors that give you a better ranking in each mission you do. The better rank you get, the more unlockables you attain.
Based on the two chapters that I’ve played so far, The 3rd Birthday is what Parasite Eve fans are looking for. The fast-paced action is a welcome change to Parasite’s Eve standard slow gameplay.
Check back with us on March 25th for our official review and guide!The 3rd Birthday Hands-On,