Review: The 3rd Birthday
When The 3rd Birthday was announced, I was excited yet confused that it wasn't called Parasite Eve 3 or having Parasite Eve somewhere in the title. To get prepared I went out and bought PS1 copies of Parasite Eve and Parasite Eve 2 though in true Andy fashion, I never got around to playing them again. Instead I watched Youtube videos and remembered all the good times I had with the series. Going into The 3rd Birthday, I had high expectations to be taken on a very strange yet immersive ride. I came out at the end not knowing what the hell just happened.
The story in a nutshell is creatures dubbed "The Twisted" show up in Manhattan, NY and wreck havoc and to save humanity, Aya Brea and the CTI (Counter Twisted Investigations) are called into action. Now, if you are expecting some sort of tie-in to the Parasite Eve series, forget it. The only ties it has with the PE series is some of the characters from the previous games, that's it. Not like you will be paying attention to the story to begin with. 3rd Birthday didn't convey the story in any manner in which someone could understand what was going on. All I could put together is that Aya can time travel and she uses that ability to go one year in the past to destroy the Twisted. What? About 20 minutes into the game, I gave up and just focused on what made the game fun for me enough to enjoy it, the combat.
Usually, any kind of shooter on the PSP has terrible controls and makes it near impossible to play since the lack of dual analog sticks. Square Enix alleviated that issue with an auto targeting system. Between the cover based shooting and the auto lock on system, I was having a good time. To make things interesting, Square Enix also implemented what was used in Mindjack into 3rd Birthday. An ability called "Overdive" lets Aya dive into people. This puts a little strategy into this game. Out of ammo? Stuck in a corner about to die? Need a better position to gun down the Twisted? Just Overdive and everything will be ok. You can even use Overdive to seriously hurt or kill the Twisted when you whittle their health down. They even threw in vehicle combat! Well, not in the terms that you think it means. During certain parts of some missions, you can Overdive into a soldier that is using the machine gun on a tank or a helicopter pilot. With the tank, you are stuck in one place and cannot move whereas in the helicopter, 3rd Birthday gives you a little control, albeit on rails.
3rd Birthday also has an RPG element mixed in. Besides the crazy weapon loadouts you can have, you can upgrade those weapons to have more ammo, hit harder, more accuracy, etc. You also get access to an abilities "tree" in the form of a D.N.A. table. When killing Twisted, you will sometimes gain D.N.A. chips that you can install to the table to add or upgrade abilities Aya can have. You can't actively use these abilities since they happen at random times when fighting. Also there is no indication on the how or what when it comes to using the D.N.A. chips. I just started adding chips all over the place and eventually came up with some good stats, I guess. So saying that this game has RPG elements in it is not all that true. It is very light to say the least if at all there to begin with.
The game wasn't bad to look at either. Between the cutscenes and the in game action, my eyes were pleased with what they saw. I was, however, disturbed by how much hip sway Aya was given in this game. I have never seen someone going into combat, killing insane looking monsters shake their ass so much until now. Health status is another thing that bothered me. Why couldn't you have Aya's clothes shredding apart as an indicator for her health instead of just making it for the few people that want to see a video game character half naked? Also, I am no sound engineer but what the hell is up with the loud ass footsteps from Aya? I understand she has heels on but do you need to make the sound louder than a heavy assault rifle?
Not until the end of the game did I have a sliver as to what was going on in this game. I still had fun with the games combat so I guess that counts for something. On top of that, Square Enix took the only thing I really liked out of Mindjack and added it to 3rd Birthday to make the action fun, despite the repetitive handful of monsters you fight. Fans of Parasite Eve will shy away from this and I don't blame them. It's not what we thought we were going to get. Still, if you are mildly interested in a decent shooter for your PSP with some really inventive mechanics, check out The 3rd birthday but wait for a sale or rent it.