SummaryLoved by some. Misunderstood by many.
The GoodI'm not sure exactly what drew me to Parasite Eve. With a handful of screenshots and some insight into the new combat system that Square developed, I was intrigued. I reserved it and picked it up on the day of release.
Parasite Eve puts you in the role of Detective Aya Brea, just as her date at the opera is beginning. The events that occur here will set the stage of things to come and reveal an enemy who is now only a fraction as powerful as they will become. Aya herself will become stronger in more ways than she can imagine and she will find that there is more between her and her foe than the opera.
There are several things that set this game apart from other RPGs, namely the combat and equipment systems:
Combat - During combat, you're free to run around and avoid the enemy attacks as your AT (Attack Time) meter fills up. Once it's full, you're free to attack using a weapon or magic. Depending on what you choose, a dome-shaped grid will appear around you, showing you your range. Range will differ, of course, depending on weapon and magic. There are plenty of combat screenshots, so I recommend that you Google them for reference if you are thinking of trying this one out.
Equipment - Unlike most RPGs, your primary weapons will be guns and tonfa-styled batons. Armor, in traditional RPG fashion, isn't physically shown on your character. What sets Parasite Eve in this department is the customization of weapons and armor. As you'd expect, weapons and armor will become stronger as you progress. However, you can make them better through the use of tools. Got a pistol that allows you to input two commands, but you wish that you had it on your shotgun? Remove the option from the pistol and put it on the shotgun (assuming you have an option slot open). Beware, as standard tools sacrifice the gun that you remove the option from. Better tools that allow you to keep the gun that you steal from are available if you accomplish certain tasks, but you'll probably want to play through the game once before even thinking of attempting them.
The game is split up into chapters, such as Day 1, Day 2, etc. While you will level up normally, at the end of these days, you'll recieve Bonus Points to apply to different stats and to up you item capacity. Depending on your performance in battle, the number of Bonus Points you get could be higher or lower. Needless to say, if you want to build up, you definately want to get a good grasp of the combat system.
The visuals in the game are very well done. The pre-rendered backgrounds are beautiful and the enemy designs are creative. Of course, the character and enemy models aren't going to be on-par with the CGI versions found in the cutscenes(which themselves look rather out of date these days, though still great), but this is PS1. Don't expect grand beasts from old mythology, though. This is science fiction-based, and many enemies have been mutated on a cellular level just prior to your arrival, in order to slow you down or eliminate you.
The sound effects are standard fare, but nice and clear. Enemies shriek and roar, gunshots ring out, and there's plenty of footsteps to hear. The soundtrack isn't what you're probably used to hearing from Square. Some people despise it, but it's one of my favorites. High-energy, mellow, menacing...it's all here. It may not be anything you'd want to listen to outside of the game, but when combined with the story, visuals, and gameplay, sets the mood quite nicely.
The BadMany people's complaints with the game is that it's too short. I'd have to agree that the main game is a bit too short, but that's only because I got into it and wanted more. Ever wanted to play through an entire RPG in a full day or a weekend of gaming, without having to use an emulator with fast-forward or using a cheat device? This is your game. Some have stated that you can beat it in 9 hours, but for the first time gamer, I'd wager that it's going to be in the 15-18 hour range. Good for leisurely gaming, but not good if you get hooked.
You also may have heard something about Aya's movement speed during exploration. You see, she has two speeds of movement, walking and running. However, running is more like watching her do the Running Man while moving forward. Her legs show that she should be really hauling, but her feet are sliding more than they're moving her. Not fun in long hallways. This is a minor annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless.
The Bottom LineIs this game worth getting for the measly prices it fetches these days? Yes. Did I think the same thing after getting it in 1998 for $50? You betcha! It may not have the largest following (the real gems rarely do), but it's a unique experience. Those of you who have had a bit too much Final Fantasy might enjoy the change of pace.