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SummaryIt's deep, it's beautiful, it's Parasite Eve 2!
The GoodWell, I'll start by saying that for a period of 4 weeks this game is literally the only one I played. Square created a perfect blend of action and RPG all wrapped up in a compelling Science Fiction narrative that sort of carries over from the original Parasite Eve.
We begin with Aya Brea doing target training at MIST HQ in Los Angeles. An alert comes through about a nearby hotel being attacked by NMC's and Aya is dispatched to assist the SWAT team that has already stormed the building. After that Aya is plunged into a deep, outlandish but wholly satisfying narrative that you guessed it, is one big conspiracy.
The combat system in Parasite Eve 2 is the biggest change. After the attack phase initiates you can press square to auto aim at your nearest enemy, then pressing square unloads on your enemy. Pressing triangle brings up the PE (Parasite Energy = Magic) wheel which allows you to select a PE to use in battle. Outside of battle you can still do this but you can only select physically enhancing PE's such as Metabolism or Healing. After battle you are given a helping of experience points to spend on upgrading your PE's and Bounty Points which function as money. Unlike most Square RPG's there is less of an emphasis on skill management and character development and more on advancing the story. While you can still develop your character with different weapons, different armor which affect your hit points and augmenting your parasite energies the emphasis is purely on exploration and combat.
Environments in Parasite Eve 2 follow the pre-rendered Alone in the Dark formula wherein Aya is rendered (lusciously) as a 3D model and the environments have been painstakingly pre-rendered. These camera angles load quickly and I have never had any problems with them. One of the most impressive graphical nuances of this game is the water effect present in Neo Ark - a shimmering, shifting mass which doesn't really look like water but doesn't seem to be possible on the Playstation because it just looks so beautiful. Particle effects like fire and some of the effects that accompany you casting PE's are impressive and quite pretty.
I enjoy Parasite Eve 2's soundtrack. I know some people don't enjoy it, some people think it is generic, however the soundtrack conveys a sense of humility. Square knew what kind of music to use in the game, they knew which kind of music wouldn't take emphasis off the event it was accompanying. While the soundtrack isn't stellar, there are many memorable tracks, most of which are accesible for playback either from a Jukebox or via the target training.
The BadMOVEMENT PROBLEMS FLOW INTO COMBAT
Aya moves like a tank. I thought Chris Redfield moved sluggishly but all that equipment must really be weighing Aya down. This is a very irritating aspect of combat as although combat is real time it is also realistic, there is no flashing "invincibility" time and if you get knocked down or backed into a corner you can be pummelled to death within seconds by some of the hardier enemies.
SOME VAGUE, SUPERFLUOUS ITEMS Although there is a large selection of weapons and items some are superfluous and some are completely baffling, such as the Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel simply invites you to attach it to your armor to see what it does, a completely trial and error concept that is tedious and will inevitably drive you to a walkthrough to see what it really does.
AWKWARD ITEM ATTACHMENTS
This brings me to another point. In combat you only have access to items that Aya has attached to her armor. If you run out ammo and more isn't equipped to your armor; you're screwed. If you run out of healing items and you're about to get violently killed; you're screwed. The fact is it doesn't seem like such a big deal when you consider you can increase armor attachments with pouches but it still can be a vile irritation if attaching slips your mind before a big battle (of which there are many.)
TOO MANY LARGE SCALE BATTLES
When I say there are many big battles I'm not exaggerating. At one point in the game there are boss battles within around 30 minutes of one another. Square likes boss battles and don't expect Parasite Eve 2 to be an exception.