It’s been over a decade since the last Parasite Eve game debuted on the Sony platform. Back when both Parasite Eve games were released on the PSOne, it was an unusual RPG to tackle due to its survival-horror nature that made it quite awkward. To the majority of players, it was more of a survival-horror game rather than a RPG but all works well due to the bizarre storyline, characters, mutated monsters, and its gameplay. Following the success of the first title, it was followed with a sequel that was heavily inspired by the Resident Evil series, but still has the elements that fans loved about the first game. A decade after the second game, the third game in the series under the title “The 3rd Birthday” is here, bringing Aya Brea back to New York, Manhattan.
Just as the animals and the creatures mutated into something unique, The 3rd Birthday has mutated as well in terms of gameplay. Instead of sticking up to its survival horror-RPG theme that fans loved on the first two games, it is now focused heavily in a third-person-shooter-action-RPG. Will this new type of gameplay work well in the 3rd Birthday? Let’s take a look on the HOTs and NOTs of The 3rd Birthday.
Phenomenal Visuals for a Handheld
The visuals of the 3rd Birthday are one of the best I’ve seen on the PSP. The CG graphics are very impressive and compared to what Aya looked like a decade ago, she has became a sexy character. If you want to see more of her sexy body if you’ve been teased by her shower scene on the second game, one of the unique features of The 3rd Birthday is for Aya to loses pieces of her clothing every time she gets damaged. She doesn’t go completely naked but players can get to see more of her skin this time. Aside from her sexy body, the environments and some of the locales in New York are well designed and are ver impressive for the PSP. For those who played Crisis Core, the graphics are similar but the ones on The 3rd Birthday are slightly sharper. In terms of the voice overs, they are decent and fit very well to Aya Brea and the characters in the game. Almost all scenes and conversations in-game are equipped with voice overs and it’s great to see Aya Brea talks!
Intriguing Story like the past two titles
Through the tragic and horrific adventure that Aya has gone through the first two Parasite Eve games, she’ll have to face another threat once again back in New York. The year is 2012 on the afternoon of December 24th, a massive creature called the Babel has invaded and almost tears up all of Manhattan, New York. Fast forwarding to 2013, Aya Brea and the group of former FBI agents have begun investigating the Babel and the other creatures called The Twisted that are both connected to one another. Using a new device where Aya can go back to the past, she must go back to the events where the Babel invades New York and find a way to stop it. Through her adventure in seeking a way to stop the Babel, new twists will be unfolded and more of what happens to hear recently will be unfold. In this game, she has loses all of her memories and the only memory she has left is on the day of her wedding. If there’s a time the players get lost on the story of the game, a journal with the timeline, character profiles can be accessed on the main terminal where Aya can save her progress.
The 3rd Person Shooter Gameplay Works Well
From its survival horror-RPG gameplay on the first two Parasite Eve games, The 3rd Birthday has shifted to a third person shooter – RPG. The RPG elements where customizations to the weapons and experience points that Aya earns for every kill she does are still there. Players will most likely spend time customizing the weapons and armor. However, from the beginning of the game through the end, the player will most likely spend time shooting enemies and running towards the next area, just like the typical shooter we’ve experienced but it works very well on this game. The controls are very solid and easy to grasp- players can auto aim with the L button and shoot with the R button. Players can move Aya around the area using the analog stick and bring up the menu by pressing the Start button. Despite the shift to third person shooter, I quite enjoyed it and the shooting it very fun. It’s like playing Resistance Retribution!
There are a lot of new things in The 3rd Birthday and one of them is for Aya to Overdive to an enemy. Overdive in The 3rd Birthday is possessing the body of the NPCs on the area and use their abilities like their weapons and HP. Whenever HP of Aya is low, and since there are no items to use to recover Aya’s health other than the health save point or let it recover by itself by standing still, she must Overdive to the NPCs on the area otherwise she’ll die. It’s very imperative for Aya to make sure NPCs are kept alive or else she’ll have no means to dive to other people’s body.
Another addition to The 3rd Birthday is Aya’s ability called Liberation. Think of Liberation as the Over Limit that is found on Final Fantasy games. As Aya continues to shoot enemies, her Liberation meter fills up and as soon as it’s filled up, she then can use the Liberation ability and has several seconds to deal a huge amount of damage to an enemy. This works well on the bosses but it can be used anytime during the game. There are other ways to take an enemy down and one of them is stunning them. For players to stun the enemy, they must continuously spam the attacks and wait until the enemy drops down. When that happens, press the Triangle button and a huge portion of the enemy’s HP will be depleted and then players can combine it with the Liberation ability for a successful kill to an enemy.
Square Enix gives players a lot of reason to go back and play the game at least more than once. There is a lot of replay value in 3rd Birthday that players can expect. When the game is finished, the player can earn more costumes, access a new difficulty mode, and a lot more. One of the main attractions of this game is for Aya to change her costumes. The costumes that can be obtained in the game just doesn’t give Aya a new look but the different costumes that she gets has some affinity to the armor that she has. In the seven episodes that the game has, including Episode 0, the game can be finished in around 8-12 hours depending on the difficulty that was chosen.
Repetitive Look of the Environments
While the visuals of the 3rd Birthday are impressive, I am quite disappointed to the repetitive pallets and textures that are used in the game. From area 1 to area 2 and so on, most of the time they look very identical. It sometimes get annoying to see the same recycled environments but it’s a good thing there’s a mini map included other wise, it will be easy to get lost.
Can be Hard at Times
While playing the game under Normal difficulty, I still find it hard on some parts of the game – especially the bosses. For those of you who are seeking an easy run through the game, don’t expect it here. Some of the bosses in the game have requirements in order to damage the HP. This one boss I fought at the second chapter is a pain as none of my attacks were working. It took me an hour and a lot of deaths to figure out how to damage his HP. Yes, there are more enemies like the ones I fought in the game where it will be too hard to figure out their weaknesses. Gamers who want challenges will be pretty much love this game but for those newbies, beware.
The Game Starts Slow
On the first three chapters of The 3rd Birthday, expect it to very slow. After the players have gone through it, the game will change from a more focused third person shooter action to a balanced type between the action and RPG. The story on the first three episodes may be all about The Babel and the Twisted but more on Aya’s past will be revealed that will make it interesting for fans of Aya Brea. Just remember to give the game patients on the first three episodes and the game will pick up, I promise.
From the ten year hiatus that Aya had, I am glad that she’s back into action and more badass this time. Despite the change from survival horror RPG to an intense third person action RPG, it works very well especially for the PSP. The deep customization and the strategy on who or when to overdive into someone’s body is something that fans will have to think twice and fall in love to especially with its tougher bosses that lies ahead. If you’re worried about the sudden change of gameplay you shouldn’t be disappointed. The game is still a kickass experience offering new and innovative features not seen in the series before. As I said earlier, Aya is back with more things up on her sleeves.
[Editor’s Note: The 3rd Birthday was reviewed on the PSP platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]The 3rd Birthday Review,