It is Christmas Eve in New York City. Aya Brea, a strong rookie detective working for the NYPD, is at an opera with her date at Carnegie Hall. Everything seems normal during the show until a horrific scene happens. When the lead actress, Melissa, finishes her song, the audience suddenly starts to combust into flames. The only ones not burning are Aya and Melissa! Even in her evening gown, she dashes to the scene, prepared to fight.
Melissa/Eve plans to liberate the human mitochondria, the power house of the cell. She feels that humans have been the dominated species for too long. Aya must prevent Melissa/Eve from altering the mitochondria of humans and save humanity in the process. The story is actually based on the novel of the same name, written by Hideaki Sena, who is also a Japanese pharmacologist. Sena’s interest in microbiology really shows, and you can see the parallels between the game and the novel.
The battle system is very intuitive and fun to use. It is a hybrid of action and turned based RPG’s. Enemies will appear at random or at certain locations. Once you start, you have free control of your character. You can run around and dodge enemy attacks. You have an active time bar which tells you when you can start an action. When you choose an action, a weapon or parasite energy, a grid will show up. This shows you the range and trajectory of the action you are going to use. Also, while you’re trying to decide what action to take, the screen will freeze, giving you time to go through your selections.
As you defeat more enemies, you’ll gain levels and BP points. Gaining levels allow you to learn new parasite energies and increase HP/PE max levels. The BP points can be used to increase your item capacity, lengthen the time bar, or strengthen weapons/armor. There is also a lot of customization for your weapons/armor. By finding permits and trading cards, you can ask Wayne in NYPD to enhance them. You can do things such as add status effects to weapons, 2X/3X firing ability, attack, range, and PE defense. In the game, Aya has the ability to use Parasite Energies. There are powers such as cure, haste, scan, detox, and liberate. Each one has its benefits to use in the game. Every time you use a power, your PE bar will go down. It will regenerate during a fight, but the rate it regenerates at will slow down the longer the battle draws out.
Parasites Eve graphics are well done. Aya’s character model looks great, especially in the CG cut scenes for that time. She looks elegant in her dress at Carnegie hall and her standard apparel throughout the game. The game also features pre-rendered backgrounds. Some places you’ll visit are the Museum of Natural History, NYPD Police Station, Central Park, Saint Francis Hospital and Chinatown. There are also some nice settings such as the snow covered streets of New York City at night to the Atlantic Ocean on a Navy Ship.
There is some replay value for the fans. After you beat the game, EX-Game gets unlocked which allows you to keep one weapon and one piece of equipment from your previous play through. You can also use everything you kept from the finished game save data. It’s encouraged to play the game many times to prepare yourself for the “Chrysler Building”. This building is full of tough enemies and hard bosses. You’ll want to finish the game a few times before taking it on. There are some nice items and weapons you can pick up there.
The music in Parasite Eve’s soundtrack is pretty haunting. You do not want to be in the dark with all the female opera singing going on. But there’s more variety than the usual creepy sounds. There are also catchy, experimental tracks and piano melodies to spice up the mood as well. The OST is worth buying if you can find it. Just play it with the lights on.
Square has created a masterpiece. Its vision of a “Cinematic RPG” comes to life in Parasite Eve. Buy this game now before you become a victim of mitochondria too! If you can’t find a physical copy, you can always purchase it on the PlayStation Network.
Pros: Atmosphere, great music, use of FMV’s, deep story
Cons: Not so much to do after you are done. (EX-game and Chrysler Building are the only extras for fans.)
VGM: “Out of Phase”