7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Following the Reviews Wasn't Necessarily True,
This review is from: The 3rd Birthday - Sony PSP (Video Game)
Initially, I wasn't sure about this game. Everybody said the story was awful, the gameplay was rough, and that the main character was just annoying. Mostly, I disagree.
For me, I've always been interested in the Parasite Eve games, but I had never had an opportunity to play them. From the research I did when I was interested in the PSX games, I understand that this story has nothing to do with the previous Parasite Eve games. I don't even know who all of the Cameo characters are supposed to be in relationship to Aya. This is the first time that I met them.
From the get-go, I was very impressed with the game. I actually felt like the controls were sufficient and the gameplay was very fun. In the grand scheme of things, the gameplay is probably really repetitive. It actually doesn't feel that way. That's probably because the environments are constantly changing and the enemies are differing slightly as you go. One big issue people have had with this game is the difficulty. I saw those complaints and decided this game should be one I start out on Easy. This was a good idea. In that mode, it was still challenging but I didn't feel like I was going to get a migraine because of it.
The story is actually very interesting to me. It's based around this invasion of creatures called the Twisted. They emerged from beneath the Earth and popped up everywhere across the globe. Aya was found shot, covered in blood, and in a wedding dress around the same time that the Twisted emerged. They find out that she has the ability to send her Psyche into other people and can use their bodies. They then create a machine that can send her Psyche into the past.
That's about the gist of the beginning. There are only 6 episodes in the game, and playing through them takes about an hour long. I think it's the first 3 chapters that you play in the past, then you play in the present (2013) for the last 3, with a little more time in the past in a bit of the last chapter.
In the first three chapters, the given circumstances of the timeline are completely changed. Something significant is completely changed from the last chapter. That was really fun to try to keep up with. It was also incredible to receive the story. The cutscenes were just awesome. There was a lot of detail, the occasional weird line of text, and new questions for you as you go along. It feels more like an action-mystery game than say, a survival horror. In fact, it never feels like a survival horror. It rarely attempts to be creepy because in the time or two that they do, it doesn't pan out. Actually the creepiest part of playing the game was listening to awkward Maeda. He's a stuttering Japanese man who seems nervous, but not too nervous to talk to Aya like she's some object.
A lot of people say that Aya is whiny and weak-willed. I disagree. I believe that she wanted to help people out, and then I believed that her reason for going out there was because she needs to find out who she is, and she just so happens to find out more and more as she engages with the Twisted. I thought of Aya as a caring individual who would fight to protect others.
Unfortunately, she's highly sexualized. As you play, her clothes rip more and more until she's left with scraps. Yeah, her butt-cheek will be visible. It's a bad idea because this is a PSP game. While their graphics were awesome, you'll never be able to make people appreciate the sexiness of your three-dimensional sprite.
Then there will be plot-twists that are just dumb. Actually, I was okay with the plot twists as the story went along, but I hated the end scene. Everything is perfectly shaped to fit together into the story until the end when they explain how the twisted were created, how Aya lost her memory, and how to change the past to save the future. Well they forgot to answer one glaring question: that of the true catalyst that started the whole continuity of the game. Why did the officers in uniform EVER show up and start shooting? If you have the opportunity to play this game, please ask yourself that. There was no explained reason, no previous tiff, no Kill Bill assassination for running away. The officers just shoot. And if you were to try to explain it from the information they give you, it won't be logical. So something that seemed incredibly intelligent and put together makes a wreck of itself in the last ten minutes. I've never been so appalled by the ending of a story before. I hated making myself sit through the end credits.
Luckily, most of the story is appetizing. Gameplay is augmented by what is called DNA boards and weapon customization. Both are great concepts and feel very simple to understand, but they do have their short-comings. The DNA board doesn't have a tutorial, but you can actually unlock more abilities for Aya by playing around with it. It was kind of fun trying to fit things in like a puzzle so I could strengthen my character. It got a whole lot less fun when I realized I had spent ten minutes on just a couple nodes, re-trying the combinations so the nodes would be a higher level. Right before working on the other nodes.
Weapon customization is fun the first couple times you open the menu, but quickly gets disappointing and frustrating. The controls or layout of how you choose your weapons and how you customize them just don't feel right. It feels like a lot of work trying to gather a lot of information from a lot of different places. The other frustrating thing is that there are so many weapons in the game, but you'll only unlock maybe a fifth of them in your first playthrough. On top of that, each customization costs money, and a lot of it. Each weapon can be customized with anywhere from 8-20 pieces. The first pieces cost say 1000 BP. Then the second row of pieces costs 2000-4000 BP. So to fully customize each piece, you must unlock them through hours of gameplay, unlock the customization, and then spend 15-30,000 BP on each weapon. You earn about 8,000-12,000 in an hour of gameplay. The cost is SO high that you end up focusing on only a couple of weapons for the run-through, and then the weapons stop doing nearly enough damage.
I wish they could have come up with simpler ways to handle those two elements because I ended up spending a VERY significant amount of my time in these two menus rather than in the gameplay they were supposed to augment.
The other thing I want to mention is that the difficulty really comes from the controls in certain situations. The majority of the game, you automatically lock onto an enemy with the L button. When you snipe, or grenade launch, or tank, suddenly all of your movement is taken away. Aiming with a sniper is AWFUL. The crosshairs move so slowly that it feels ridiculous trying to ever hit the target. Which is weird because the game encourages sniper usage in so many places. If you use the sniper, you can hit weak spots which cause massive damage. Also, the bestiary tells you where the weak spots are. This is all well and good, but the crosshairs move really slowly while the enemy is moving fairly quickly. You also only have about 10 shots. When you try to snipe, you'll almost never hit the weak spot, and then you're a sitting duck while the twisted comes and knocks you on your back which, by the way, resets the crosshairs, so you have to do all of that searching all over again.
Well, I'm the kind of person who can talk about how bad things are very easily, but talking about the good doesn't happen quite as easily. This game I played almost non-stop for two days straight. I hated the ending, but went right back in and played for another two hours. The gameplay was so fun, that I don't know if I've ever been so enthralled by a game. Also, the graphics are extremely fantastic. The game has great strengths and great weaknesses. It's too bad that they couldn't have made this a true continuation of the previous two games in the series for those of us who might have been interested in seeking out the old games as well as for the fans. An oversexualized game like this feels like fan-service, but it's really doing your fans disservice by not honoring the continuity of the previous entries in a series. By the way, Square-Enix, half of your games feel like carbon copies of each other, and the other half, your name was Squaresoft. I'm really starting to think that Square-Enix has not in recent years been truly deserving of the praise they hold.
I can also tell you that where they ended it the first time through pretty much guarantees that there won't be a number 4. Bummer.