Review by stealthgiga
"Amazingly weird game... But in the end, still amazing"
As expected of Square Enix, this game has beautiful graphics and music. However, the game is rather short. In fact, I'd say it's possible to convert this game into a 2-hour movie. I guess the developers decided with this length in order to stay true to the 'Cinematic Action RPG', one of the tags that the series is known for.
This game, although can be categorized as a third-person shooter, is quite an unorthodox one. I say this because some weapons can't even be aimed manually, instead only by lock-on. Also, the game's main system, Overdive, allows the protagonist Aya to control any soldier in the battlefield. The game provides 'situations' and little gameplay details to ensure players use the system, and I'd say it pretty much succeeds.
This may sound a little off the base, but the game actually reminds me of Valkyria Chronicles, another unique game - a strategic RPG with shooter elements. The difference is that while Valkyria Chronicles still retains some turn-based elements from its root genre, in The 3rd Birthday, it's all real-time.
Even the Skills system is kinda weird, requiring some luck. It's not like other games where you always get the item C if you combine a particular item A and item B. Here, you can actually keep retrying and get different results.
This game is quite challenging, even on Easy difficulty. Players need to utilize the game's unique systems such as Crossfire and Overdive Kill to ease their way. Crossfire is the ability to make multiple soldiers shoot at the same target, killing enemies faster and also allowing more opportunities to perform Overdive Kill on them, which is the game's most damaging move.
Overall, I find the gameplay is well designed, and is implemented quite solidly as well. I think Square Enix did a shooter right this time, although I don't think they've ever been interested in making a generic third-person shooter to begin with (which is good thing).
Although the game is short, it is meant for multiple playthroughs, as there are costumes, weapons and other weird stuffs (such as the ability to view and rotate 3D models) to unlock. For hardcore players, there are 2 more difficultes above Hard: Deadly and Genocide, which are really challenging.
There are also Cheat Codes, but there are two types of them: Assist Codes, meant to make the game easy and Challenge Codes, meant to make the game even harder by implementing conditions such as one-hit-death. These multiple codes can be activated at the same time.
This means that completing the game (getting everything in the game to unlock) won't be an easy and fast thing to do, and even after you complete it, you can still get more out of the game by creating your own challenges, and the game will help you implement them.
Fans of Parasite Eve series need to play this game with a grain of salt, as Square Enix really means business about rebooting the series, dissociating it from the work it was originally based from.
I'd recommend this unique sum of all parts to anyone. I've never rented a game before, so I could only recommend you to buy it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/11
Game Release: The 3rd Birthday (JP, 12/22/10)
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