The 3rd Birthday
A sequel to the Parasite Eve series? “Great”, I thought. I was a huge fan of the first two games on the Playstation. Too bad the announcement was only for Japanese mobile phones… In 2008 the developer wanted to do more and decided to do further development on the PSP. Whether this was a good decision, you’ll read below.
The 3rd Birthday is set in New York that gets overrun by the Twisted. You, Aya Brea, agent ofthe CTI (Counter Twisted Investigation) get the important task to halt this. Aya is the only one with a unique ability that can help her in this extremely difficult task. As cherry on the pie you’ve also lost your memory. This makes that Aya is no longer the tough protagonist from the two previous installments but rather a pathetic sad lady.
By bringing forth a completely different Aya this immediately feels less than Parasite Eve, but this isn’t the only thing where the devs do things differently as they’ve decided to remove every link with the previous installments. Never are things from the other games brought to light and the returning characters are suddenly not even important anymore. Just like you’re erasing everything that’s happened before and want to create a totally new story. This is like completely ignoring fans of the previous games and hoping that new players will be able to follow what’s going on.
The game plays like a typical third person shooter with the shooting part central. The only notable difference with other games is Aya’s unique skill. Thanks to her overdive she can jump into the mind of other people and move through the battlefield by hopping from one character to the next. This offers a nice extra to players and allows a new tactical style, but it also makes things easier. Almost dead? Just jump to someone else! With the Overdive system you can also go into enemies but for that to be possible you first need to weaken them before you can destroy them from the inside. Do enough overdrives and you can use Liberation. This makes you stronger and faster for a short while and is good for difficult situations. However, beware as the timespan is pretty short.
The second typical gameplay part are the RPG elements that are put into the game. You can make a choice in weapons and upgrade them with “XP” points. Through the Over Energy system, that goes along with your Overdive and lets you steal DNA from hostiles, you can make Aya stronger or make the soldiers that help her do more damage.
The combination of RPG and Third Person Shooter works very well, but that’s pretty obvious seeing the foundations from the first two games. This one, however, is a bit too easy even on the hardest level. The only painpoints are maybe the somewhat long bossfights which take up to 20 minutes. Getting killed just before defeating one makes it therefore even the more painful. Still, all in all you can finish in 5 to 8 hours, depending on your own skill and the difficulty degree.
Graphically the game has a lot of heights, but there are at least an equal amount of downs. The CG movies of really great and the characters are overloaded with detail, but the surroundings look monotone, linear and boring. The color palette consists mainly of greys and the environments are nothing more than similar-looking locations that repeat. The voices sound good, but the text the actors are reading is pittiful. It certainly doesn’t do the story any justice and you’ll quickly lose interest in the entire game because of this.
The 3rd Birthday actually shows how you can start from a great series and make a game you would rather forget. The combination shooter/RPG works perfectly and gives fun possibilities thanks to the Overdive system but unfortunately it all falls apart by the bad story and the questionable characters. Unlike the earlier games, you certainly won’t get pulled in and get hooked to your screen. The biggest disappointment, however, is the adjustment of Aya that makes her a pathetic character without any equal. It completely ruins the experience and this while for once there isn’t so much to complain about in the gameplay.