Where the hell are all the zombies?
Where do we get the energy to help us through our daily grind? Why, from mitochondria! Through ATP transfer, these "energy power houses" within our cells help create the power we need to get through the day.
Well, screw all that. Those mitochondria are in reality bloodthirsty vampire blobs just waiting to eat you from the inside out. And when that happens, you'll become a monster. Sure, you might have increased strength and agility, but you'll have lost control of your body, plus you will be extremely ugly.
So, hide the women and children! Mitochondria aren't here to help us out! They're here to kill us all! Gyaugh! At least, according to the world of Parasite Eve 2.
PE 2 picks up three years after the events of the original. The premise? Mitochondria are actually dormant parasites that have learned to live with the body...until some of them go bonkers and start mutating animals. And when Mitochondria attack, things are gonna' get hairy.
Aya Brea, the heroine from the original, has returned, and now she's part of the special MIST unit of the FBI out to kick evil creature ass. But she's somewhat different. Where did the Aya Brea of the first Parasite Eve go? Well, she's younger. She's blond. And now, she's boring. Aya felt like a much more interesting character in the first game. She goes through all the motions of killing monsters, but doesn't imbue that same reserved, bad-ass character I remember.
Perhaps it's the writing. The dialogue is seriously boring. At one point, one of the other cops says "doo-doo." What kind of hardened cop says "doo-doo" rather than that other word? Or how about Aya going around telling people she's from a top-secret organization? Hello? Top secret? Doesn't that mean you don't tell people? It's like Inspector Gadget all over again.
Dumb story points aside, Parasite Eve 2 does do well in its gameplay, sort of a segmented Resident Evil. As you wander around the different areas, you will encounter nasty baddies left and right. Just aim your gun and BAM! - you're in Battle mode. Then, to complete the battle, you must eliminate all the enemies within the area.
These battle segments require different skills, such as loading your weapons and using your mitochondrian powers (a.k.a. magic). And while it is very easy to just stand there and shoot, it isn't smart. Shoot a little and run. Or even better, find some place to shoot far. Weapons and magic require timing, as it takes so much time to load or prepare your power. Is there enough time before you get mauled?
I would have preferred a more manual aiming system. Being able to adjust the gun up and down or the ability to ensure always aiming at the right enemy would have been great, though I can live without it. Once you get the timing down, combat feels a lot more interesting. And at that point in the game where you understand that you can't just stand still and shoot, the enemies will start jumping at you.
By the way, the enemies are ugly. Very ugly. A good thing indeed - if they were cute little pastel teddy bears holding out flowers for you, would you want to rain down holy vengeance upon them? (don't answer that.) When the bosses come, prepare for truly evil- looking mothers. Makes it all the better to shoot them dead.
The two meters in the game are BP's and Experience Points. Both are gained with victories in battle. BP's are used to buy weapons. Experience Points are used to unlock more powerful mitochondrian powers. I like being able to accumulate statistics to make purchases, but buying upgrades can get very 'trial and error.' But I do really appreciate the added challenges after you finish the game once through.
Graphics carry the mood and darkness of the game, but the character quality doesn't match up to the likes of Vagrant Story. The backgrounds are mostly dark stills, pre-rendered visuals with dabs of animation here and there. Sometimes, you have to deal with awkward viewpoints. It's annoying when one screen could be used to see an entire room, but instead they use several screens, all from weird angles.
The first Parasite Eve was the self-hailed "Cinematic RPG." The so-called "cinematics" in Parasite Eve 2 are generally less riveting. For example, the intro video. It's got the awesome techno track from the original, but remixed with less oomph. The video editing isn't the same quality as PE's intro, and it just comes out disappointing. That intro speaks for the whole game. Sure, there's better character modeling, but the flow into videos is not quite as good.
And how can you be "cinematic" if there aren't any voices? This game really needs some good voice talent, which could have put emotion in where the words alone couldn't. I know, I know - who cares about voices in an RPG? Well, me, that's who. It should at least be an option.
It's easy to discount this game to be just a Resident Evil clone because well, that's what it is. Resident Evil came first, not to mention the original PE. The sequel tries a few things to distinguish itself, but just because you've now got magic powers doesn't really change things. Rather, more work should have been put into the plot and storytelling of the game. Plus, some minor tweaks here and there would have really made the difference. My mitochrondria tell me that perhaps all you'll really need is just a rental.