It’s been over 10 years since the last Parasite Eve game, a short-lived PSone era series that went on to become a cult classic for many gamers. Now Square Enix have brought the series back with The 3rd Birthday on PSP. With so many similar RPG/action crossovers appearing on the platform these days does this push itself ahead of the crowd?
Unlike the original PSOne Parasite Eve games, 3rd Birthday doesn’t use the same survival horror gameplay that made those titles popular. Instead, this is a run and gun third person shooter with an RPG twist. Obviously this immediately creates problems on the PSP, as anyone who has tried to play shooters on the system know the limitations it has. Aiming can be a hassle, while using cover, which is vital in a game like this if you want to survive, suffers from an inaccurate button configuration.
The twist to The 3rd Birthday that makes it different from every other shooter on PSP is the Overdive feature, where lead heroine Aya can transfer her soul to other bodies, taking control of them and the equipment they have. This has you jumping from character to character across the battlefield, chipping away at other enemies health as you do so.
It’s an interesting feature, and here it works well, with a simple tap of the triangle button giving you a new body to use. It adds some strategy to the otherwise simple gunplay, with you having to keep track of the bodies you have left in reserve, as each has their own health bar. It’s one thing that makes The 3rd Birthday different to most other PSP titles.
As with most of their other PSP releases, Sqaure Enix have done a good job with the presentation of The 3rd Birthday. The game looks solid throughout, and despite some drab and dull environments every now and again, the character models and cut scenes are skilfully crafted. In a similar way, though the script can be close to painful at times, the voice acting is well executed. Something which Square Enix has a fine reputation for.
My main issue with The 3rd Birthday is that, despite some vague plot links to previous games, it really isn’t a Parasite Eve title. It’s probably the main reason why the series name was left out of the title, that and the fact that the game is extremely generic and could be any of the many other PSP third person shooters. It doesn’t perform better than other titles in the genre either. A game like Resistance Retribution does a much better job of bringing the format to handheld.
In summary then,despite bringing some interesting ideas to the table, The 3rd Birthday is something of a disappointment, and even fans of the series will find it hard to love what Sqaure Enix have delivered here.
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