Reviews: Parasite Eve

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A Good Game With Great Potential
The original Parasite Eve is a classic for a reason. Yes, it's very short, but it's sweet in its shortness, with little filler or time-wasting. Yes, it's an obvious Tech Demo Game for a future project, but it throws its all into an excellent, creepy story and fun gameplay anyway.

The plot kicks off with an instance of mass Spontaneous Human Combustion at an opera house, with tough-girl cop Aya Brea the only survivor and witness. She spends the game hunting the genetic monstrosity responsible throughout New York City as it twists ordinary animals into murderous foot soldiers and plots the destruction of the human race. It's gripping stuff, most of the time, only slightly hampered by the occasional bit of "Blind Idiot" Translation, and the urban, gritty style of the setting is a highlight.

The gameplay is also cool, and one of the best turn-based/real-time hybrids I've ever played. The firearm customization system is a standout in terms of offering a lot of fun and freedom without completely breaking the game. (Until the New Game+, anyway.)

Both could use a bit more polish and expansion, but they're still good on their own merits.

There are a few flaws to nitpick. The hitboxes are a bit wonky. Getting around can be slow, sometimes more-focused on showing off now-obsolete tech with ladders and doors than letting the player move. The game does a truly atrocious job of explaining how to survive timed escape segments. Dialogue and cutscenes are unskippable, making the latter flaw all the worse. The normal ending is weak, and the science is so poor that I personally derive great satisfaction from thinking of the villains as deluded yutzes talking out of their butts.

And, while I have not played them, it seems that, rather than polish this game's great potential into something beautiful, Square, in their infinite wisdom, ruined the first sequel by chasing the already-fleeting Resident Evil train, before literally desecrating Aya's corpse in the other one. It's a shame they didn't have enough confidence in their product to let it stand on its own merits.

But none of that detracts too much from the experience, or at least, not fatally. It's on the PSN cheap. If, like me, you never tried it back in the day, give 'er a whirl. You won't regret it.

Oh, and the music's good too.
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