: Excellent graphics, tight shooting mechanics, lots of customization, the diving aspect of combat is unique
: Platforming is bad, overly linear, difficulty is unfair, gets repetitive early on, story is a mess
This has been a long time coming. I have been trying to get through this game since it was released and just gave up. The game is not only difficult, but it's so repetitive and strange. It has an odd vibe to it, but at least it controls well for the PSP and looks fantastic. The voice acting is spot on, but the story is so strange and broken up that I just couldn't follow it.
That's not to say the game's horrible. All I know is that you play as Aya Brea from Parasite Eve
(this is the spiritual successor) and you get jacked into a system where you can warp into people's bodies and control them. Think of them as lives. Once one guy is dead you have to transfer into another body or you will die. As you bring down the health of these parasites that have taken over New York City a yellow triangle will flash over them that lets you transfer into them and do massive damage. This is essential to winning most boss fights. You just run around blasting everything with traditional military weapons, but at least you can upgrade them. Adding more power, accuracy, and various other things requires points that you acquire through completing levels. There are a plethora of weapons in the game from handguns to rocket launchers. It's nothing special and I wish there were more unique weapons. The combat is fun at first but gets tiringly repetitive as you get further in.
Every level nearly plays the same. You blast through parasites, transfer through bodies, then fight a boss. Some times you have to destroy nodes to advance, but it stops being fun less than half way through. The bosses are extraordinarily tough and you will die dozens of times. If you shoot stuff long enough you get Overdrive which allows you to do massive damage, but there's a weird pause between every few shots and it wastes precious time. Some bosses I died on dozens of times and nearly gave up -- they have multiple life bars and if you don't beat them a certain way you never will.
The action never lets up, but the pacing is so poorly balanced. You get a good run through a level then suddenly are have to run from some unbeatable monster. The platforming is atrocious and even climbing ladders can be hard. I died multiple times because of how linear the levels are and I just couldn't maneuver properly. The game could have been one of the last great PSP games if it just had more polish. The graphics are fantastic with some great lighting effects and good-looking textures. There are just too many issues for this to be considered one of the PSP's best.
Overall, The 3rd Birthday
has a lot of amazing aspects and ideas, but they fall flat because they weren't fleshed out all the way. The platforming sucks, the game is just too damn hard, and it's overly linear. The story is an unfocused mess, but at least the game looks amazing and the controls are great. The shooting feels good as well and there's a lot of customizable features. It just needs more polish, but what's here is worth a rental or cheap bargain bin price.