|Publisher||:||Square Electronic Arts|
|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
Biological warfare has taken on an all new meaning. This time, the weapons aren't government-manufactured for war; biology itself is revolting, and humanity is about to be overthrown. Thus goes the story for Parasite Eve, the new role-playing game (RPG) for the Sony PlayStation by Square, makers of Final Fantasy. This is the first game published in America by the new joint company Square Electronic Arts.
Our heroine is Aya Brea, a gorgeous if not too bright cop. While attends the local opera, the star singer, Melissa, suddenly causes the audience to burst into flames, with Aya as the only survivor. Aya sets out to stop the rapidly-mutating Melissa — now calling herself Eve — while there's still a city to save.
Parasite Eve is set in New York City. Players will travel to familiar sites, such as Carnegie Hall, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty.
The story begins on Christmas Eve and takes place over the six following days, with events occurring in predetermined succession. Square gives a new definition to linearity: Parasite Eve plays more like a book than a game. Eve must go from Point A to Point B, with little deviation available.
Battles likewise happen in set places, and these are the only real chances in which Aya has some say in the game's outcome. The screen does not change to a special battle mode, as most RPGs do. Rather, Aya must move to avoid attacks as they appear, waiting for her meter to build, allowing her a chance to attack by weapon or Parasite Energy, a modern version of medieval RPG's magic spells.
Victory results in the collection of experience (strength) points and items, but no currency; there is no buying, selling, or trading of goods in this New York. Inventory management is a player's biggest concern, often finding themselves with more superfluous items than they can carry.
Square made the focus of this RPG its graphics; as a result, they are phenomenal. Exploration occurs in a Resident Evil-type fashion of fixed camera angles, automatically switching when Aya moves beyond the current range or into a new room. Realistic settings and strange-looking monsters are offset only by the polygonal characters.
The game's most stunning moments are the full-motion video sequences, reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII. These realistic movies are often brief but fantastic, showing Eve in all her horrific glory. These make the book-like feel of the game more interesting.
The music is not as momentous an event as those tracks found in the Final Fantasy titles, but is still suitable for an RPG. There is little digitized speech to accompany the computer-generated movie sequences, but Eve's operatic singing and the squealing of terrified, mutated monsters will definitely have players nervously asking, "Whoa! What the HECK is going on??"
Parasite Eve comes on two discs, and a third disc contains demos of Square's future lineup. There are self-running movies of Bushido Blade 2 and Brave Fencer Musashi, and a playable demo of the RPG Xenogears, all games due before year's end. A movie of the highly-anticipated Final Fantasy VIII, due in America in November '99, is also included.
Parasite Eve is a simple, relaxing game to play. There isn't too much for a player to think about or do, which may frustrate the more action-intensive gamers. But the original, intriguing storyline and cinematic feel are Parasite Eve's redeeming values. The strong, slow-developing storyline often threatens to overpower the gameplay. But it does work well as symbiotic relationship: give it your time and it'll give you some enjoyment.
This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 14-Sep-98