Parasite Eve 2
Ah, Parasite Eve, what can I say? Overall, an amazing series thus far, and my second favorite Square entry besides the Final Fantasy Series. I picked up the game years ago and played it over a weekend, not getting very far before I abandoned it for Resident Evil: Code Veronica. When I came back to play it last week, I found that I was only in the first 20 minutes of the game and decided I should make this another notch on my belt.
I absolutely loved the first Parasite Eve and getting the second was only a matter of time. And time it took, I had absolutely forgotten about the game until I saw it in a local video store on sale for $2.50. I'm not about to pass up a deal like that, so I made my purchase and it sat on my shelf for 4 years now. My first impression was that this was Square's attempt at a Resident Evil. It succeeds a great deal in this with the controls being near identical but some of the game play from the first PE was transported poorly to this game.
You have the basic tank controls for movement and after a few minutes, they become fairly comfortable, but still one element persisted, it's damn near impossible to avoid enemy attacks. Whereas the first PE had you moving in an open field, 2 has selected camera angles for you to use and maneuvering can be a challenge. A fair comparison would be a real time Final Fantasy where you chose the timing of your attacks, but still must trade blows with your adversaries. The most frustrating part of this was the Puma ANMC. I was constantly knocked down as my pathetic handgun traded blows with this beast hell bent on keeping me down. Eventually I opted for the grenade gun and those problems were soon put to rest much like the puma who hounded me.
A major disappointment to me was the use of your Parasite Energy powers. In the first game each power had an important purpose and it was almost essential for the player to have them all in order to beat the game. Here, you just need an AoE fire spell and Heal. I kid you not. Those are the only two I ever used to breeze through. I was saddened to see that "Liberate" was removed entirely and the PE powers dumbed down to power attacks to make the game easier.
Another issue I had along those lines was the lack of weapon and armor customization. In the first you could do nearly anything and everything you wanted to your items to customize them to your playing style, here, not so. You have your basic handgun, shotgun, machine gun, and grenade launcher. 1st game, you could combine all these into one. Now: you have 4 wasted inventory slots on your armor. The only weapon you could tweak was the machine gun, adding different attachments such as extra clips and grenade launchers, ho hum.
Speaking of the armor, there were only a few variations and like the guns, not very customizable. The only thing I could find to add were extra pouches, increasing the amount I could hold. Pathetic. The one weapon I wanted in the game, and a huge reason why I bought it, beyond it being a Parasite Eve title, was the gunblade. I loved FFVIII and especially the gunblade. When I heard Aya could swing it around like Squall and dish out some major damage, I nearly wet myself. But I find out it takes insane amounts of time spent farming kills to get the necessary "S" rank at the end of the game to receive this holy weapon on your next play through. I rushed through the first time and received the worst ending in the game, my second time through I took the time and did everything I could and earned the best ending in the game, but still fell pitifully short on the gunblade. Why is it that I can get this weapon with my character in WoW, but not in a Square game!? Gunblade link: http://www.wowarmory.com/...31204
Beyond the lack of weapon variation, the art design threw me. The concept art was beautiful, you can tell Nomura was starting his descent into the Kingdom Hearts style, but the in game models looked nothing like the artwork. Kyle looked like a gangly moron with his slack facial expressions and Aya seemed so generic, like a 3rd rate RE character. The enemy design was lacking, with all the enemies mooing or neighing from their obvious human faces. Now that I think of it, they were bipedal Seamen sans the back talk.
The story line was fairly interesting and kept me hooked until the end of the game. Not quite as epic as the first, but still nothing to laugh at. Myself, I think the game could have been a bit longer, stretching out the Dryfield and Akropolis sections as I went through the both of them combined in under an hour. Personally, I loved Dryfield and really wished they made the town larger with a focus on saving survivors. As it was, it short and sweet, but with a great deal of potential missed. The shelter was fairly bland, much like the labs from RE, but when I made it to the Ark, I remembered I was playing a Square game. Not as grand as I would expect from them, but still grand on a large and beautiful scale. That's something I notice them shying away from, an awe inspiring sense in the player. If you don't believe me, check out the intros of FFVII and VIII, and then compare them to Parasite Eve 2 and FFXII.
As a whole, this is a decent game. On par with a Resident Evil, but missing a few elements that would have otherwise made it great. I don't regret buying as I do with some other titles, but maybe I'm just frustrated I still don't have my gunblade.