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Name: Parasite Eve 2 (65.00% in 12 votes)
Type: ACT
Platform: PSX
Company: SquareSoft Japan
Release date: 1999
Reviewed by: Sympathy

Squaresoft has another winner on it's hands. Aya Brea, the beautiful and seductive heroine of Parasite Eve is back with a vengeance in this sequel set almost three years after the events in Parasite Eve 1. It follows her on yet another mission as she continues her quest to hunt down the legacy of the wicked Parasite Eve. Hang on to your seat and keep the lights off at your own peril.

The Story
It is September, 2000 AD. Aya Brea has left the NYPD and has joined a special FBI strike force called MIST, created specifically to investigate incidences involving Neo Mitochondriac Creatures (NMCs), the term used for humans and creatures that have been transformed by their mitochondria into grotesque and deadly monsters. Somewhere in the world is the source of these NMCs. Your quest to ferret out the truth will lead you from the bustling city of Los Angeles to a remote desert in Arizona, where some shocking secrets await.

Parasite Eve 2 is a typical Squaresoft visual masterpiece, with a generous sprinkling of rendered CG movies and smooth 3D figures and special effects over beautifully rendered locations. Aya Brea is as beautiful as ever, though she looks more mature and her trials seem to have given her permanent red rimmed eyes. The game is full of amazing 3D special effects from the various types of monsters and beautifully depicted areas as well as a deadly array of weaponry and of course, your parasite abilities, though my personal favorite angelic parasite ability "Liberate" from PE1 is nowhere to be found.

Squaresoft has totally revamped the old Parasite Eve game system so PE1 veterans beware. Parasite Eve 2 now feels very much like Dino Crisis/Resident Evil. As usual, you will control Aya from a camera angle view of the scene. You can examine parts of a room to get clues and solve puzzles. An automap is available to you to keep you from getting lost. The map even conveniently points out to you with a red hue if something nasty is waiting for you in this neck of the woods.

The old levels system of character development has been completely eliminated. Aya now starts with a base HP (health) level of 100 and an mp (parasite energy)level of 30 that does not increase with experience. Instead, Hp can be increased by equiping more powerful HP boosting armors and using health max boosting items while mp limits can be increased as your parasite abilities are developed. Winning battles now earns Aya experience points and battle points. Experience points are spent to develop Aya's parasite abilities like Healing and Fireballs, which now have levels and grow more powerful, are faster to cast, etc as their levels increase. Battle Points are like money and can be used to purchase better weapons, armor, ammunition and other items from certain sources.

Monster encounters still have the old PE1 RPG feel, with a sudden white out and a loud heart beat followed by intense action-based combat. However, Aya is no longer limited to a miniature arena within a room as in PE1. Instead, she is able to move freely throughout that room as if she were exploring it normally, only she has some extra controls such as aiming her weapon and firing, etc. which aren't available in normal exploration. To make things a little harder, the camera angles usually point to where Aya is coming from rather than where she is going, making it harder for you to keep track of the bad guys sometimes.

The combat inventory system has also been revamped. Unlike PE1, you are permanently stuck with 20 inventory slots and out of these, you are only able to use a those items that you previously attached to your armor's attachment slots. Other items in your inventory are inaccessible until the battle is over. Each armor has a different number of inventory attachments as well as special abilities such as Poison resistance. Special items exists that can permanently increase the number of slots in your armor.

Enemy encounters can now be triggered if you raise your weapon at an enemy before it notices you. Previously, enemy encounters were fixed events that occur if you step into the wrong part of the room and usually occur without any warning. This time, you get the opportunity to scope out the type of enemy and prepare yourself for it. Also, leaving through the room's exits has the same effect as "running away from an encounter". No experience is earned and Aya actually will get a small battle point penalty for running away.

Random encounters have been eliminated. Instead, monster inhabitants periodically "repopulate" after certain stages in the story have passed. Repopulated monsters usually tend to become somewhat more powerful.

The world of Parasite Eve 2 is also much smaller. Unlike PE1 where you had free reign to explore numerous locations in New York, including stages you had cleared before, you are now forced to explore several locations in sequence, with no chance of going back to a previous stage if you missed something. Fortunately, there aren't many locations and each is fairly self contained, with it's own (usually hidden) supply of weapons, ammo and items to keep you in fighting trim.

The game is chock full of unique puzzles that may give non-Japanese players some problems in getting through the game. Most puzzles have visual clues that can be solved after some thinking but a few can be a real hassle. For example, early in the game, there is a cash register with an important key inside. To unlock it, you have to solve some sort of code. Unfortunately, the instructions and clues to solving this puzzle are all in Japanese. I had to visit a Japanese game site and get some help from a Japanese speaking friend to get the answer to this puzzle.

Parasite Eve 1's vast mind boggling array of weapons and armor have been trimmed down considerably. Gone are the days of the Super Tool Kit, the custom made handguns that pack a bigger whallop than a rocket launcher and the armor that can withstand a nuclear blast, but the weapons available are more than enough to do the job. Some customisation is still possible. For example, the M141A Assault Rifle comes with numerous attachments including an ammo expansion pack (+30 ammo) and an underslung grenade launcher, though only one attachment can be used at a time. (doh!)

Parasite Eve 2 has a strong emphasis on replayability. Completing the game once unlocks other special game modes, with more powerful weapons, smarter and deadlier enemies, etc. Experience, battle points and the strength of your parasite abilities in your previous game contribute to what abilities you will have in the next game. Your performance in the game also influences what special weapons and ammo will become available to you in your next game. Also, new levels of difficulty may contain certain new story points and events. There is much more to this game than meets the eye.

A must have for any survival/horror game fan. Though not the huge epic urban RPG that the first Parasite Eve was, Parasite Eve 2 will give any survival gamer a run for their money. And who can resist another encounter with Aya Brea.
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