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Parasite Eve - Retroview

Kiddies, This Ain't Your Regular P.E. Class.

By: Stewart Bishop


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 4
   Music/Sound 6
   Originality 8
   Plot 9
   Localization 9
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

10-30 Hours

 
Overall
8
Criteria

Parasite Eve
 

   Parasite Eve was Squaresoft's response to Capcom's survival horror series, Resident Evil. Bringing it into the market and aptly dubbing it "the Cinematic RPG," Parasite Eve dazzled gamers with breathtaking visuals and an equally breathtaking heroine. Though not as 'at the edge of your seat' as the Resident Evils, it provides many thrills, a chillingly realistic story and more eye candy than a pillowcase on Halloween night.

   The battle system is a sort of real-time-action-RPG hybrid, the interface being a bit similar to Vagrant Story; The battlefield is limited to the screen that you are already on. You dodge enemies and enemy attacks in real time as your AT meter fills, and you may attack whenever you like so long as the meter is full. Bringing up the attack menu will cease activity on the field, allowing you to take your time with decisions. A green grid will also appear, indicating the range of your attacks; You won't be able to hit anything outside of this range. Obviously, clubs have the shortest range and therefore the smallest grid, whereas rifles have a significantly longer ranger and larger grid. Depending on the size of the clip of the weapon you are using, you can fire more than once a turn if you so choose. Beware, however, as you are susceptible to attack while you are firing, so sometimes it is better to fire once and remain untouched rather than fire three and eat a fireball.

   The lowest quality of this game is most likely the interface. Analog Control is the way to go in my own opinion, but navigating menus with a control stick is a chore. Worse yet, you can't use the control pad simultaneously with the Analog Sticks, so switching between the two can get very annoying, very quickly. In Parasite Eve, you can also modify your weapons and armor, but assembling, disassembling and collecting tools to do so is an arduous task, especially with the limited inventory that you have.


Oooh...Glowing.
Like I said, lots of 'eye' candy  

   Parasite Eve's music is fine, but nothing spectacular; most are very eerie songs that are only good because they are appropriate for the game and its theme. I wouldn't go out of my way to pick up a soundtrack. The sound effects are also above average, except that the weapons sound like popguns. Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with it.

   The last drab feature to touch upon is the overall replay value. After completing the game, you receive a giant heap of bonus points to distribute as you see fit. You also get the ability to keep one of your weapons and sets of armor to carry over to the next game. From here, you may begin your 'EX Game.' Diving into this, there is a good, a bad, and an ugly side to it all. The good thing is that you can have the opportunity to piece together more of the plot. The bad thing is that you have to traverse through a building crawling with high-level monsters...and you start the game off at level 1 once again. The ugly part is that once you reach the building, there are over 70 sickening floors of tortu---fun...The first run through the game, as with any game, can produce some problems and you'll probably end up seeing about 20 or so hours on the timer when you finish. The second game should take at least as long as the first game, since you'll need to level up for quite a bit before tackling our bonus building. While you can go there as soon as you reach the City Map, I wouldn't recommend it...You'll just be too weak to handle most of the critters.

   Having endured the bad, we come to P.E.'s finer qualities. The plot is dazzling, grasping a spine-tingling sci-fi story about your own body...and the little 'symbiotes' within called mitochondria. The story actually got me more interested in cellular biology, so I can heartily suggest the game if you just so happen to be struggling in that particular subject. With many twists and a chilling realism to it all, this is, in my opinion, P.E.'s greatest aspect.

   Such a marvelous plot must be accompanied by an equally good translation, and Square delivers right on the spot. Precise and very scientific, Square provides us with a great translation and verifiable scientific data. My only concern is that the characters' dialogue is always so emotionless when it shouldn't be. Other than that, however, it's practically perfect in every way.


Plus some.
And more...  

   Beautiful FMVs help move the story along, and it's not difficult to see why it is "The Cinematic RPG." If you thought I was joking when I said 'eye' candy, I'm not. Many FMVs focus on the eyes of our heroine and villainess, Aya and Eve, for reasons that become evident as your progress. The rendered backgrounds are beautiful, and prior to Final Fantasy VIII, Parasite Eve had the most model and skin detail of any other Square game I can think of.

With such an innovative battle system and quite the 'unheard-of' attitude in the plot, it's clearly one of Square's more original titles, straying from the usual 'party' system, clichTd 'lone villain taking over the world' plot, and even more, there's not even a 'hero,' we have a heroINE. I only wish the weapon and armor modifications was better executed, it seemed like such an excellent idea to me.

While Parasite Eve 2 is now out here in the U.S., take the time if you have not already done so to play the original. In many ways it was a 'test' RPG; It incorporated new features and a new type of plot. The gamble paid off, and hopefully Parasite Eve 2 will brush up on some of the original's weaker qualities.


The worst foe lies within the self...
This theme is great.  




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