Review by Shadow Edge

"Not much horror, but hey it's a great game!"

Square tries to enter the horror category. And thankfully, they come up with a great game with a unique style of gameplay. However, this game has its flaws and lacks the eerie atmosphere of PSX' big horror titles like Silent Hill and Resident Evil.

Graphics: 7/10

The game uses 3D models plastered over 2D background and, sad to say, is not the kind of quality you'd expect from a company that produced the graphically wonderful worlds of Final Fantasy. Backgrounds are well-detailed, but is in great need of lighting effects. It also lacks the crispness and sharpness.

The 3D models are OK. They were well-enough detailed, but needs a lot more frames of animation because it uses like, what, more or less ten frames when you move around. But still, it's an average quality.

The menu is simple-looking. Too simple, in fact. Square tries to make it look like a computer menu, and it looks just fine. Icons are good enough.

Visual effects on battles.... are not satisfactory. Not much colors nor creativity on the flashy stuff when you use magic, though big enemies are very well detailed. Small enemies, however, weren't ase fortunate as their bosses.

FMV movie scenes make up for the mediocrity of the graphics. Very well detailed and animated. Still needs more work on the lighting though.

Gameplay: 8/10

If you've played Vagrant Story, you'd find the style of the game familiar.

Okay, so it goes like this. The game is in 3/4 overhead view. You can equip a weapon and an armor. When you engage in a fight, the screen goes in negative colors (except Aya, the main character) and enemies appear. To attack, you must wait for your ATB (Active Time Battle) gauge to fill up. While it does, you should move around the screen to dodge enemy attacks. When it's full, you can attack, use items or change equipment. When you attack, a frame line of the range of the weapon you equipped will appear, and everything inside this frame are your choices of target. Then you select how many bullets to fire at them (your default handgun allows 2 bullets per move). What's great about this is that you can divide your bullets so you can attack multiple enemies. When, for example, the weapon can fire 7 times, you can target 7 different enemies at once.

Aya's powers are called PE, or Parasitic Energy. PE is the product of Aya's mitochondria. If you don't know what mitochondria is, you better pay more attention to your biology lessons. Anyways, mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cells in your body. In Parasite Eve, Aya's mitochondria are special (I'll explain it in the story section, spoiler free) and are able to bestow her with powers, like healing and stuff. Your MP here is the PE gauge. What's annoying about this is that the PE gauge isn't digital. When you level up, your PE gauge increases in capacity, as well as HP and your stats.

When you level up, you gain BP or Bonus Points. For every 100 BP entitles you a +1 to your ATB Speed, Item Capacity or a stat on your equipment.

What's great about the gameplay is your ability to customize your weapons and armor. They have the Base Stat and Additional Stat. Base Stat... is, well... the natural properties of your equipment while Additional Stat is the bonus stats, acquired by either using your BP or some items that give bonuses. And weapons also have slots, where you can put special stuff like 3xRate of Fire, Acid Rounds, Tranquilizer effect, HP+, Poison resistance, etc. etc. You can increase the number of slots of your equipment by dropping by the headquarters, enter the firearms department and give the person in charge a Mod Permit. Each equipment has a maximum amount of slots. Later in the game, you can also use collectible cards for equipment modifications.

Story: 8/10

The story is also great. It was inspired by something Horror Bunko book in Japan.

You play as Aya Brea, a girl cop who comes to the opera with a date. However, disaster strikes at the opera. The lead singer, somehow, has the ability to "ignite" anyone she wants, turning the opera into a burning hell. One weird thing is that Aya isn't affected. She confronts the lead singer, who introduces herself as "Eve". She tells Aya that she is impressed because she didn't burn. She ends up by "waking up" Aya's mitochondrial powers, as Eve tells her. So Aya pursues Eve to look for answers: why she (Aya) has these powers and what connection exists between the two of them.

As you progress a bit more, Aya discovers the Eve also has the ability to "change" the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), mitochondria or whatever of animals, turning them into formidable monsters. Though some looks quite a joke, as if though intended for comic relief.

Sounds: 8/10

Sounds, thankfully, makes up for the mediocre graphics. Some music has a very eerie feeling to it, some upbeat for boss battles, and some exciting.

What prevents me from this getting a solid 9 is the music for ordinary monster encounters. It fit the scenario of fighting monsters at all. It has a slow beat, improper instruments, etc.... you get the picture. The sound effects also need work. The sound effects of enemies attacking Aya needs more quality and realism. The sound of Aya shooting isn't also that similar to real life conterparts of her weapons. PE magic also needs work.

Controls: 9/10

Controls are simple. D-pad for navigation, X for OK, O for cancel, triangle for menu, start for pause and stuff like that. What prevents me from giving controls a full 10 is because Aya can only run in 8 directions, if I remember correctly, even on the analog stick.

Lifespan: 6/10

The game is short. The first fun takes you about 6 to hours while the second can go to as fast as two and a half hours. Everytime you beat the game gives you about 3000BP, and that's it. Very little replay value.

Ratings
Graphics : 7
Gameplay : 8
Story : 8
Sounds : 8
Controls : 9
Lifespan : 6

Total : 8 (7.6) (Excellent)

PROs:
- Unique style of gameplay
- Equipment customization
- Great sounds

CONs:
- Short game
- Mediocre graphics and animation
- The "Normal Encounter" music doesn't fit
- Sound effects need work

RENT OR BUY?
Recommended for buying, and almost qualifies for a must-buy. But hey, it's a great game. It also comes in with a playable demo of Final Fantasy VIII, so I suppose that's the reason why sales went up for this game. Nice move, Square.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/27/05


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