Genre: action role-playing, survival horror
System: Playstation 1 and Vita/PSP (PSN)
Price: $5.99 on PSN
Hello and welcome to a text edition of the Smartest Moron. If you saw my tweets a long time ago, you will know that unfortunately the footage I gathered from the Vita TV for Parasite Eve 2 did not work on Adobe Premiere Pro. I have tried for weeks to finish it, but failed miserably. So here we are with a text review. I will try to make this up someday.
I should note that there will be spoilers later on, and I will do my best to highlight them so you can avoid everything if you only want to know my opinion on the game itself. I’ll say it right now: Parasite Eve 2 is not a good game. But you heard enough of my sob stories not relating to this, so let’s dive into the game itself!
Let’s talk about some of the good this game does before diving into the bad. For starters, the presentation mostly works. It easily looks better than the first game, and guns behave more realistically too. Not to mention, I loved the variety. Choosing which guns to go with in battle did make a difference. Then you have Parasite Energy attacks, and the game goes another step further in trying to make you can survive against these tough odds. Though I quickly found an exploit when I could upgrade and refill all my MP without using an item.
And you can customize your loadout, which makes things much better. Like this assault rifle? Okay, how about we add in an electric shock attack for good measure! Not every gun is capable of this, but it’s a neat idea that I wish was expanded. Your armor also determines how many item you can take with you into a fight, upwards to a maximum of ten items. This includes equipping ammo and other weapons. And yes, you can screw yourself in a fight, because if you run out of ammo somehow and don’t have parasite energy left, you will have no other means of attacking. So paying attention to your ammo count is important, though it is incredibly easy to refill later. Later in the game, you can even find attachments that can benefit Aya, such as better defense, stronger attack, and much more. This made it harder and harder to know what to keep and use since your inventory is limited. The game does manage to keep handing you supply trunks to use though, so it isn’t annoying…unless you need to run back to a certain trunk, then yes, it is annoying.
With all these tools, you think surviving would be easy, right? Oh hell no! And it’s not because of enemy designs or anything. Let’s take the camera for example due to how it blatantly rips off Resident Evil.
I never liked this in Resident Evil games because it always ended up obscuring you, but at least it could keep up with you. In this game, the camera actually freezes a bit, and throws so much at you! While some fights felt playable, like some of the giant boss battles, others were just horribly broken and damn near impossible. Take this boss fight against these super monster llamas for example, and I wish I had a better instance to say monster llamas. You have to fight them in the dark, and they can just jump onto you! Now it might be because I am playing on an HDTV that it’s so dark, but even with better visuals, how the hell are you supposed to keep track of the enemy in such tight spaces!? You can equip a radar, but the range is too limited to be of much help.
So how did I beat the game? Well, there’s an exploit that allows you gain all your MP with each upgrade, and since you can heal, this means you can horde a ton of healing items. So rather than a survival horror game, it has turned into simply just tanking hits and you can still win. Now some enemies do require strategy, sure, but it’s not much. And simply tanking hits defeats the purpose of a survival horror game. So in trying to rectify the mistake of the first game, they somehow managed to repeat the same damn mistake. This is only enhanced when you need to grind for money and experience points, as well as practice to get better adjusted to the game.
And yes, you will need all that money not just for buying more ammo for specific guns, but also in buying future weapons and armor near the end of the game. If I had not eliminated all the enemies despite how tedious it was, I would not be able to get this beauty of a gun along with arguably the best armor in the game. Considering the bad tank controls and horrible camera, I needed every conceivable advantage I could! And that’s only if you did things a certain way to get the good ending. There’s no reason not to aim for it either. The bad ending paths don’t change the final boss, and there might be minimal story changes at best. Ammo isn’t hard to come by either, as you can buy it.
The game does have replayability however. Not that I would ever play this again without getting paid mind you. Or making sure the footage I capture is actually useful. Once you beat the game, you are ranked a grade based on how much experience you accumulated, and this in turn gives you more stuff for new game +. This means to get the best stuff, you need to grind enemies even more. My point with all of this? The game stopped being about horror. It’s a hunting game. When you look at the game from that perspective, it makes more sense. And thus it makes copying the Resident Evil style absolutely worthless! If we’re going full-blown in hunting stuff, let’s go back to Aya at full powered, have her transform, and fighting dinosaurs again! This feels watered down from the first game, and the only real improvements were guns and graphics. Square, you needed more than this.
Our story opens with a bit of a recap of the game’s first events, and not really following either ending exactly like I thought it would. Aya’s powers have regressed, yet changed at the same time. She’s more vulnerable and can’t transform, but she can use other abilities. Turns out she joined an organization known as M.I.S.T. to hunt down any remaining neo-mitochondria monsters. Eventually, after investigating a rise in the monsters after SWAT was slaughtered, she meets psychopath named No.9–wait a damn minute!
And yes, he wield’s Squall’s Gunblade for no adequate reason. No, he is not interesting in the slightest. At any rate, there is much destruction caused by his little bombing, and Aya must investigate an abandoned town, barring a little doggie and a guy with guns, to find out any connections to No.9 and the rise in neo-mitochondria creatures. From here, the plot is more simple than the last, though easier to deal with if you know the plot from the last game. But it really does take a while for the plot to go off as you slowly meet other characters and investigate other areas. This includes…an underground compound. With sciencey stuff. Oh dear, we’re going into this twist.
You probably already figured it out if you even bothered to remember the first game’s story. It’s so clichéd, I’m not even going to bother putting this in the spoiler section. This is the twist:
Some kind of organization took the DNA from Aya Brea somehow, and proceeded to make artificial mitochondria creatures. Why? To improve humanity or use them as weapons, given the cyborgs, aka the Golems like No.9. No.9 is pretty much all about chaos anyway because…I dunno, he has a Gunblade, so maybe he’s just an obsessed fan of Final Fanasy VIII and Spoony pissed him off to cause this mess. That’s my personal head-canon!
But how can the mitochondria be used to affect hosts and be controlled? Well you saw how badly I tried to explain this crap, and given later bullcrap, this is the explanation I am defaulting on.
At any rate, it’s a plot twist that has been overused way too much, even when the game did come out. Now, you can technically use old plots, change them around, and make them exciting. The problem comes from the gameplay just dragging things along super slowly. What felt like an eternity playing this game was mostly a tad over 10 hours. This usually left some plot just being dumped onto the player. What it needed was to help build up some stuff around the areas, give us some backstory or mini-stories to help us care. You didn’t even need cut-scenes! It could have been simple journals or something that could have also helped find items, or even give tips on certain enemies or bosses. Just don’t make it a necessity to understand the story, and you’re good. There’s nothing wrong with reading so long as it is not necessary every five minutes.
And the sad part is that No. 9 is our main villain, but he gives us nothing else aside from insanity. Eve was the perfect foil for Aya due to their opposing natures and how Eve was what Aya could have become eventually. No. 9 is…just crazy. That’s it. Nothing more to him. He’s not even entertaining like the Joker. Recall Eve from the last game. She was a constant threat, and there’s a good reason she didn’t stop Aya: so she could became her pawn eventually, turning exactly like Eve the more she used her abilities. It was a scary situation, even if the gameplay didn’t fully reflect that. The original ending proved Eve was right! For that game, she was the perfect kind of villain for Aya. This guy? The only reason he is a threat is because the plot demands it, not that he outwits Aya at every turn.
Then there’s just plot points being dropped. Rupert being obsessed at killing the creatures? Dropped. Aya seemingly regaining her former powers and burning No. 9 up instantly? Dropped. Hell, I’m wondering how he survived that! That being said, there are at least certain decisions in the game that will affect your ending and gameplay. For instance, failing to save Flint will lead to you unable to get some of the best weapons in the game and to help a certain someone. Or failing to go back to Dustfield to save Pierce will result in information and items being lost.
If you want to avoid spoilers, I suggest you stop reading. If you don’t care, feel free to go on.
Due to the short length of the story, this will probably be even shorter than last time. So let’s focus on the most important character: Aya.
I heard a lot of problems with her character, saying how she was inconsistent with that of the Aya in the last game. But to be honest, I don’t see it too much. Aya always seem to embrace the best parts of humanity with compassion and care towards others. This hasn’t really changed, as shown with her quick trust in everyone around her, but exemplified with her interactions with Eve, her clone, not the evil Eve; games can be confusing. She doesn’t see that little clone as a monster, despite what she was doing in one boss battle. The little girl is extremely dangerous, but at the same time, forced into the role of a weapon. Aya went through even more hell to get her back, and even refused to kill her just to get to her enemies. I’ll comment on this later because the idea was still stupid, but shows her compassion can be used as a weakness.
There are other examples as well. Considering that the good ending involves make sure that Flint the dog lives against the giant monster, that shows Aya’s determination to make sure no life is lost. This is further exemplified when she helps Pierce when he is dying but going through monsters just for bags of ice. She does have a bit of a joking nature, like the cactuar joke.
But it does highlight how used to everything she is. She even still has a slight fear of revealing her powers in front of someone. It’s justified since the threat of turning into Eve is still there and present. But her powers are on such a low scale from before, as are the enemies, so Eve coming back isn’t that much of a threat. However, her mitochondria is still improving, and even makes sure she remains young just so she can be in her prime when fighting. It’s waiting for the chance to take over once more, and would have made for a good thing to explore. The best example I can think of is in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. That game allowed you to access a super powerful form to take on odds you obviously can’t, but it came at a price: if it hit 100%, you would die as the dragon inside tore your body apart. There was a need to balance this.
If Parasite Eve does continue today, a similar yet improved mechanic could work for her as well. In fact, that could work as its own horror, the fright of becoming something that goes against everything you stand for, into a true monster that will destroy everything you love, while you remain in the furthest depths of the mind, subjected to only watch the horrors happening.
This is unrelated to the game kinda, but there was a picture of Aya naked and covered in blood, which I won’t show here. Some have said this shows her connection to humanity, but it doesn’t. This was just some freaky fan-service that creeps me out. Her humanity is exemplified through these actions, through her willingness not to kill…Which is this game fails regarding the other problem, but before that, let’s talk about the other main star:
Kyle Madigan…and how he is a waste. He’s revealed to be a spy for the President, and the President knows what happened years ago in New York…yet he never bothered to bring Aya on board. You know, the one who knows the most about these creatures? The one who put herself on the frontlines and risked death so many goddamn times? I only say this because later, his actions cause things to get worse, and he even shoots Aya at one point, though misses her vitals.
But it’s kind of unnecessary when Aya can, well, blast No. 9 with fire, or he can shoot No. 9, causing a distraction and give Aya an opening. But nope! Let’s go into pointless speeches that have no consequences and only serve to waste our goddamn time, and all for the purpose of making Madigan to look good for Aya, even though he makes things worse!
Ya know, I’d compare Kyle to John Cena for being that barely does anything extraordinary yet it is still supposed to be the guy you root for…but even John Cena does ten times more than what Kyle does! Hell, Brock Lesner does more than Kyle! Or maybe they are about the same. They both succeeded in making someone I like look bad.
Overall, my frustrations from Kyle come from a single common element seen in this game: stupidity. Some characters really do some questionable things that just make other characters look good, such as Aya not hurting No. 9 when he had Eve, despite him clearly saying he needed her for his plans. At that point, he was just bluffing about harming her! Aya should know better! Hell, everyone should know better. Even the President gets involved…and never bothered to bring Aya on board over to him. Yeah, she only saved not only New York, but all of the world, so lord knows you can’t frigging honor her! And yes, his stupidity actually does cause some of the final boss bullcrap. This is what happens when Republicans are in charge.
Then there’s Pierce coming in by himself and traveling around…without a gun. There are monsters around that can crush your skull with a tap or burn you up, and you choose to go around unarmed and hope you can try to sneak past them like you’re Solid Snake?
…Words fail me. I admit, the character in Parasite Eve 1 weren’t always smart, but to be dumb just to make other characters look good? I’m sorry, but this ultimately killed the story for me by feeling forced. And the romance felt the same way because of it. Add in the dragging because of the gameplay, and I didn’t find this fun. It’s not completely bad, and it does do some things right, like with Aya’s morals, and in describing how Eve got messed up in the head. It was fairly decent idea to explore, but they failed to do so. As for the Eve of the last game as the final boss…eh, it kinda makes sense given what she told Aya and in the extra boss in the last game. This kind of threat though is quickly annihilated.
The ending itself also fell kinda flat, though not because of the forced romance. Rather, it was mostly a text ending, with some pictures. Just underwhelming, but I’m sure Third Birthday won’t forget these characters! It would be a good chance for them to delve into their personalities, give them even better roles since they actually did do stuff in the background that helped Aya out.
…Yeah, Third Birthday doesn’t do that.
Obnoxious camera and tank controls, a rather cliché story, and dumbed down elements all hold this game back from being something great. The visual and sounds are remarkable for their time, but as it stands by today’s standards, the game doesn’t hold up well. Some may say I shouldn’t judge it by today’s standards, but that’s ludicrous! It’s still being sold, so why should I hold back my opinion? Even for six bucks, I can’t recommend this one. You would have to really know tank controls to get the most out of this game. Otherwise, you are going to be frustrated beyond belief. You’re better off playing one of the old Resident Evil games, or even the old Parasite Eve game.