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Parasite Eve (PlayStation) artwork

Parasite Eve (PlayStation) review

"The main problem is that whenever Aya gets into a fight, the game has to load in the monsters, which takes a couple of seconds. During this time, the screen freezes and turns gray, essentially screaming, “Hey stupid! You are going to be in a fight. Gird those loins and start shooting!”"

And now we send you to our regularly scheduled episode of Rob’s Retro Rampage....

Aloha, dudes and babes (uhhh....those finicky girl-types do read my stuff, don’t they?)! I’m Rob, who some of you may know as Overdrive of the Infinite Studliness, and this is my Retro Rampage, where I pick up an old game I haven’t played in quite some time and tell you exactly why it’s been so long since I’ve touched the damn thing.

On the docket this time is Aya Brea’s first encounter with a bunch of creepy, mutated things that go bump in the night. Yep, I’m taking a trip back in time with Square’s action-oriented RPG, Parasite Eve. I remember when I first played this game, I thought I’d be in a near-constant state of heavenly bliss. After all, Parasite Eve seemed to offer a winning combination of the survival horror and RPG genres AND featured a hot chick as my protagonist. I’ve enjoyed a number of survival horror games, love RPGs and REALLY love hot girls. What could go wrong?

Way too much for my tastes. While I wouldn’t call Parasite Eve a particularly bad game, it was quite disappointing, as the survival horror and RPG elements didn’t mesh together as well as I’d hoped, leaving me with a watered-down experience that no number of hotties could completely salvage.

The premise offered much promise as New York City policebabe Aya and some doofus go to the opera on what might be a date. I’ve always looked at going to a fancy-shmancy place like an opera house just to (hopefully) get some as a stupid idea and Parasite Eve wastes no time in proving me right. During the show, some girl on the stage starts singing and *POOF* people start spontaneously combusting and all sorts of crazy shit goes down. Unaffected by these out-of-the-ordinary happenings, Aya ditches her panicking date (who probably won’t be getting any) and starts searching the premises for the cause of all these shenanigans.

Which leads the player into a number of bizarre situations, as local wildlife mutates into ravenous killing machines -- all due to the strange powers emanating from that opera singer, a girl named Eve. As Aya heads towards a confrontation with the parasitic Eve, she’ll explore all sorts of locales that seem perfect for a game with survival horror influences, such as the police station that’s her home away from home, a museum, a hospital and assorted sewers. The game is attractively-drawn with a few cinematic scenes that blew me away when I first played it. Monsters are suitably grotesque, a positive considering they’re supposed to be really messed-up versions of rats, birds and dinosaurs (Eve’s powers even work their will on the museum’s exhibits). And, as an added positive, I found myself getting into the game’s story, which did a decent job of crafting a connection between Aya and Eve.

I also found the combat system to be an effective way to meld standard RPG turn-based combat with the more action-oriented survival horror style. When Aya’s in conflict with a monster, depending on the range of her weapon, she may have to get up close and personal to monsters to effectively attack them....or pick them off from afar. After putting a slug into a critter, Aya then temporarily goes on the defensive before being able to attack again. Since Parasite Eve incorporates action elements into its battle system, Aya’s able to run around monsters and actively try to not only bust a cap in them from behind, but also evade their counterattacks, which can be far easier said than done much of the time.

Aya also gains some handy powers as things progress. The connection between her and Eve manifests itself in a number of magical abilities that are of great benefit. She also learns to customize her equipment, enhancing both her attacking and defensive capabilities. It didn’t take me long to find out having guns capable of poisoning foes or setting them on fire made Aya a lot more than eye candy as I watched her decimate entire hordes of creepy crawlies without breaking a sweat.

So, why am I saying this game’s a disappointment, since I seem to like so many of its elements? Simply put, for something that supposedly has so many survival horror elements, this disc couldn’t scare, shock or traumatize me. After playing Resident Evil 2 for the first time, it was weeks before I could turn out the lights without screaming uncontrollably. The lunatic’s paradise that was Silent Hill has stayed in my mind for years after playing it, causing me to think on more than one occasion that my life is somehow based on one of that town’s more hellish punishments. With Parasite Eve, I struggled to remember more than the basics even days after playing it.

The main problem is that whenever Aya gets into a fight, the game has to load in the monsters, which takes a couple of seconds. During this time, the screen freezes and turns gray, essentially screaming, “Hey stupid! You are going to be in a fight. Gird those loins and start shooting!” I remember the heart attack-inducing scene from the interrogation room in Resident Evil 2, where a licker slammed through the glass right after I’d let my guard down thinking I was in an empty room. I spent a good deal of time sobbing uncontrollably in the fetal position after that little scene, which made me a bit nervous when I entered a similar room in this game’s police station. Aya walked across the room AND....the game froze, the screen turned gray and two monsters broke through the window with a pitiful whimper. I calmly killed them, left the room and continued to slaughter monsters without my facial expression ever changing from a combination of mild amusement and boredom.

And without any real suspense, Parasite Eve isn’t much more than a short, repetitive RPG. Divided into six chapters, Aya’s quest shouldn’t take much more than 15 or so hours to complete and most of that time will be watching the “battle is loading” screen and then killing whatever appears. After finishing the game, a mammoth (ie: repetitive and boring) bonus dungeon becomes available, but I didn’t find much appeal in it, as the main “highlights” were collecting great equipment while fighting increasingly cheap and frustrating boss encounters.

Don’t get me wrong, I did get some enjoyment from Parasite Eve -- I just wound up feeling let down by it. While Square was able to craft a solid action-RPG, the company’s attempt to inject the same sort of tension found in a good survival horror game into the mix just fell flat, leaving me with a pretty game that truthfully didn’t have the substance or depth to make it stand out from the countless horde of decent, but not spectacular RPGs, I’ve played.

Well, it’s been fun, folks! Join me again for another episode of Rob’s Retro Rampage, as no matter how good or bad the games are, the reviews never end! At least, not until I’ve fulfilled the terms of my community service!


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (October 05, 2006)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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