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PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews

Developer: Square OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Square 1 Player
Game Type: Action/RPG Memory Card
Review Date: October 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Mitocondria: (pl. -dria). The organelle that is responsible for cellular
respiration in eukaryotes. The cellular 'power plant' that is responsible
for production of ATP by oxidative metabolism?

Eh? So Mitochondria is a micro-organism living in a symbiotic relationship
with human cells that is critical for the production of energy and the
sustaining of life as we know it. What if Mitochondria was sentient and had
the ability to evolve, what would happen if Mitochondria decided it didn't
need us any more and it was time for the human race to be eradicated?

Christmas Eve in New York City and NYPD Officer Aya Brea is out for a night
on the town to see the opera. Suddenly, during the performance the audience
begins bursting into flames, bodies fly everywhere and people panic to
evacuate the opera hall. The source of the flames seems to be the leading
lady, Melissa Pearce. Aya is seemingly unharmed and acts quickly to pursue
the source of the danger, an entity calling herself 'Eve' who apparently has
the ability to spontaneously ignite humans and control the actions of

So begins Parasite Eve, Square's newest US/PAL release in the RPG/Action


Best described as a cross between Resident Evil and Final Fantasy VII,
Parasite Eve has elements of both games. The RPG elements come out with
ability to advance levels and learn new skills and the action elements of
Resident Evil combine well in the game but other elements conspire against
this definition. This game is more of an interactive movie where you become
the main character and control everything that happens.


Graphically the environment in PE most closely resembles those found in
Resident Evil 2. Beautifully painted static backgrounds and polygon based
characters and monsters form the majority of the graphics in the game. The
menu system is also graphically attractive and easy to navigate.

The pre-rendered backgrounds are realistic and graphically excellent. Square
have truly excelled themselves again in this area. New York City has been
painstakingly rendered in very minute detail, from the Museum of Natural
History to Central Park, while I personally cannot vouch for the accuracy of
the environment it is definitely an accurate representation of a living,
breathing city.

The polygonal characters are of about the same quality as RE2, they scale
well as they move into and out of the background and move realistically at
all times. The backgrounds sometimes swamp the characters to the point of
being too small but this only happens occasionally and not often enough to
be a major complaint.

The cut scenes within the game are as excellent as you would expect,
sometimes a little short but a large chunk of the 2 CD's that make up the
game are cut scenes so they are numerous. The cut scenes act as links
between the action sequences in the game and server to tell a large part of
the story.

Sounds and Effects

The music in PE does a brillant job of setting the scene. Moody and
atmospheric, the music changes depending on the time of day, the scene and
the current action. The only complaint I would direct at the music is that
it can become a little repetitive, if you are simply wondering around a
section of the city the background music can get annoying at times.

The effects extend to the usual gunshots, footsteps and monsters screaming.
Nothing really exciting there but nothing bad either.

The major complaint that most gamers will direct at PE is the lack of real
speech. All the spoken parts of the game are presented with on-screen text,
cheaper to develop and convert form Japanese to English but no fun for
gamers because all the reading gets a little tiring at time.


Parasite Eve is a complex and intriguing thriller, to call it a game would
not be doing it justice. Sure, you control a character, you make decisions
on where to go and when and you fight numerous battles against all manner of
freakish creatures, but it seem that all this takes a back seat to the
brilliant story that unfolds as you progress through the game.

Let's face it, nobody reads the manual. Obviously the developers at Square
know this and have provided a comprehensive tutorial within the game to
allow you to familiarise yourself with the icon driven game system before
getting into the action. The tutorial covers the basic topics like movement
and combat as well as the more complex ones such as bonus points and the
tools used to combine weapon abilities.

Moving Aya around the city is a simple matter navigating her around the
pre-rendered background. Doing this without an Analog controller can be a
bit of a chore so I recommend using one.

I have never been to New York City and if it is anything like that one shown
in the game I hope I never do. The abundance of deadly weapons in the city
is scary, almost every garbage bin or box in the city contains a weapon or
ammunition, I know the gun laws in the US are a little loose but this is
ridiculous. As Aya wonders around the city during her investigation she
constantly comes up against all manner of mutated creatures, from giant
frogs and poisonous snakes to mutant monkeys and scorpions.

The combat system is one of the most interesting elements in the game,
again, the comparisons with RE and FF are inevitable. Most of the encounters
are random, as you run around the city the music will suddenly change and
the screen will white out, monsters will appear from nowhere and you must
fight for your very survival. The combat system is real time, as you move
around the battle field your AT counter increases, when it is at maximum you
can perform one of a number of actions including fire or change a weapon,
wear armour or use your Parasite Energy.

Your success in battle is highly reliant on the type of weapons and armour
you find and choose to use. You can find a veritable arsenal of semi and
fully automatic weapons, shotguns, rocket launchers and other various deadly
weapons. Armour ranges from simple vests to full body armour suits. As you
accumulate weapons you also pick up tuning tools, that allow you combine the
abilities of weapons with each other this is an extremely interesting aspect
to the game and allows you to produce your own special types of weapons. For
Example, if you have one weapon that can shoot twice per combat turn and
another that has the ability to add a heat effect to it's shots, you can use
a tool to combine the two and merge them into a single two heat shot gun,

As you win the battles you will earn experience and go up levels. Each level
you earn increases your statistics, abilities and Parasite Energy. Your
Parasite Energy gives you certain abilities, which increase in variety and
power as your levels go up. To reveal too much more would give away too much
of the story so I'll leave it there.

The story is what PE is all about, without giving away too much (in fact
I'll give away nothing) the story is very involved and interesting. As you
play and watch the cut scenes you are drawn into the game, as a major
character you see all the action first hand and also get to control events
to a certain extent. This brings me to the major complaint I have with PE,
while running around fighting monsters and gaining levels is all good fun, I
just didn't feel like I had much control over the story unfolding. The story
seemed very linear and out of my hands, I was swept along and felt like a
passenger more than a player. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because the
graphics and story elements would be enough to keep anyone interested, as if
it was an actual movie.

As with other similar games, saving your game in PE is a simple matter. All
you have to do it find a telephone, when you report your progress to your
captain at the police station your progress is saved, there is no need to
collect and use special items to save, just find a phone and make the call.

Overall the playability of PE is excellent, apart from the rather linear
storyline and low difficulty this game I a lot of fun and the story is
interesting enough to be a movie even if it didn't involve a game.

Value for Money

The comparison with Final Fantasy and RE2 continue. PE is not the epic that
FFVII is, and is even shorter than RE2 especially since you only get one
character to play, the total playing time is somewhere around the 15 hour
mark, making this a relatively short RPG. The other factor effecting the
longevity of PE is the difficulty, it's a little easy. Most of the gameplay
in PE seems to simply be a matter of going through the steps in order to see
the next cut scene and eventually finish the game.
GRAPHICS: 19/20 If given the choice between RE2 and FFVII I would take Final Fantasy every time. PE is a good compromise between the two, with RPG elements to keep people like me happy and action and suspense elements to keep the RE2 fans happy. Personally the RPG elements are too small in number and depth to have kept me interested for long, while the level advancement, weapon, armour and combat systems are interesting they lacked long term appeal.

As an RPG there are very few characters in PE, however the lack of characters is more of a feature than a bug since it gives you a closer tie to the few main characters and more of a role in guiding their destiny.

As usual, your mileage may vary, if you like any of the RE games or FFVII you will probably get a lot out of PE. I would probably recommend a rental.
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 17/20


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