Parasite Eve II
Developer: Square | Publisher: Square | Release Date: 2000 | Genre: RPG / Survival Horror | Website: n/a | Purchase: Amazon
Squaresoft yet again unleashes another classic, this time in the form of this two disc epic, Parasite Eve 2. Having never played the original Parasite Eve, I thought that the plot of part two would be incomprehensible, but to my surprise the game reveals its storyline gradually as you progress. The lead character Aya Brea is working for a secret government agency M.I.S.T that has to track down renegade mutant creatures wherever they may pop up. The public is unaware of this evil around them and thus, investigations must be conducted in secret. However, all of this takes a nosedive when a group of creatures attack a large multi-story building, slaughtering everyone inside. When you arrive on the scene you’re confronted by a strange half human creature that escapes, but lead you on the trail to a desolate little town in the Mojave Desert. I probably don’t have to tell you there’s a secret military installation nearby.
Unlike the recent Resident Evil titles, which are all out action with minimal Role Playing elements, Square is behind this title so you know for sure that there’s going to be lots of choices. Your character has “Parasite Powers” (which function in the same way as magic which can be increased in power by using your experience points. You gain experience points by hunting down and killing creatures which also gives you “Bounty Points”. These can be used to buy vital items like weapons, ammo and armor. Combat is real time, but the game pauses when you bring up the parasite powers menu and you can select you’re next spell without being maimed. Of course, each spell takes a little while to cast (only one or two seconds) but in this time monsters can harm and distract you causing the spell to stop. The same goes for loading your weapon. You can carry quite a few items in your inventory, but the items you can use in combat are limited to those that you have equipped on yourself. This means besides the weapon in your hand, you can only use five or six other items during combat. After packing an extra weapon and some health and magic restoration that doesn’t leave much room for anything else. Fortunately, you can still carry your ammo in your inventory and reload it from there.
Besides the obvious advantages of using your powers, combat is also a lot more strategic than in Resident Evil. Standing in one spot and blasting away will get you killed very quickly. Instead you have to run around and only fire when in a safe position to do so. The scenery can also help or hinder you with some creature running into things or falling off high places in their haste to eat you. I have to say that I missed the dodge feature found in Resident Evil 3 as lots of small enemies can crowd you and interfere with your spells.
It has to be said that the graphics in Parasite Eve two are some of the best on the Playstation hardware. Although the backgrounds and scenery is pre-rendered as in Resident Evil, they usually contain a lot more small animated details. Some scenes even look like a pre-rendered movie, which you can move about in. The effect is brilliant to say the least. Some of the spell effects and environment changes are excellent. There is an especially cool effect that ripples you’re screen like it’s made of liquid. There are even some invisible critters that morph into view like the stealth suite in Metal Gear Solid. With great animation and nice polygon character models, this game really pushes the hardware. The game comes on two discs so you can expect a fair amount of full motion videos as well. There are a few brilliant ones and most of them add something that a in game cut scene could not have conveyed.
There is a whole host of enemies to dispose of as well and these are of a high standard. Most of these fall into the freaky mutant category (mutated horses, scorpions and moths) but there are some very disturbing ones as well. These include small baby-like creatures that explode when you get nearby, invisible bug things that look like miniature versions of those things in Starship Troopers and of course the Golems. You’re main adversary is an armor covered mutant that thinks nothing of taking a full ammo clip in the face and then laughing at you. Another area this game delivers the goods in is the bosses. You might have thought Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 was scary, but wait till you get a load of these guys. Imagine if you will a creature that towers over you while you fight him from the second floor of a building. All while he’s trying to fry you with the flame thrower embedded in his mouth. Then there is a huge horse-like thing that you kill after much misery only to watch it stand up again and continue the fight. In fact that’s a re-occurring theme in this game. You can be sure the thing you just killed is going to get back up and fight twice as hard as before. I don’t even want to talk about the lovely chap I met down in the garbage disposal.
The areas that you pass through are just as detailed as the creatures that stalk about in them. While a small town might not sound like much, it has its fair share of locations (which you get to see in both day and night time) and once you get to the shelter and experience the Neo Ark you’ll have no more doubts.
Parasite Eve prefers to remain quiet most of the time letting you listen to your own footsteps echoing through the dark corridors. Then it will hit you with a bright flash and some music as soon as something spots you. This is good to keep the suspense and does wonders for the atmosphere. The sound and effects are of a high standard and you’re never in doubt as to what’s happening in the audio department. Being a two disc game you might be surprised to find no voice acting bar a few screams or exclamations. While it might be a hassle to read through all the plot details, at least it’s better than having some sad voice actor drone their way through the script in monotone.
As you might have gathered by now Parasite Eve is a great game and easily beats Resident Evil in most departments. It does have its weaker moments and can get quite tough at times, but don’t let that stop you from getting one of the best Playstation titles out there. With great graphics, interesting storyline, moody audio and a cool lead character there is not a lot that can be faulted.
*Review originally published in 2001.