The long-awaited second sequel to the smash PlayStation hit Parasite Eve almost came to us in the form of a mobile phone game. But it's probably for the better that The 3rd Birthday ended up as a PSP title. While almost everyone nowadays seems to have a cell mate, we're not at the point where a slim case with a 4" touch screen is going to do justice to something like this. Cartoon birds in giant slingshots, sure; but Aya Brea's story deserves the full gaming setup.
Much of the time, Aya will be diving into soldiers and using them like disposable bio-suits.
The genetically gifted heroine is back, this time as part of Counter Twisted Investigation (CTI). No, the team was not formed to oppose a remake of 3DO's game show game; it was assembled in response to the appearance of deadly man-eating creatures, giant spiral-shaped monstrosities running amok in Manhattan. Once again, Aya's unique constitution gives her an advantage, and she finds herself the sole candidate suitable for the nascent Overdive program.
Overdive allows our heroine free reign to jump into the consciousness of another person, assuming control over his body and weaponry. In certain situations, she can use the system to directly attack the psyches of her more hideous opponents, but much of the time she will be diving into soldiers and using them like disposable bio-suits. As The 3rd Birthday unravels and more bodies are jacked, Aya will level up her abilities. Using particular weapons can also level them up, so a watchful eye might net a powerful gun that you can make even more powerful just by shooting your enemies full of holes.
Switching between weapons is accomplished on the fly using a trigger and the face buttons (told you the iPhone would be a bad idea). While in a third-person over-the-shoulder perspective, you can lock on to enemies, all the while keeping an eye on your health and opportunities to jump into a new body. There is also an element of squad command, as you can assign the tactics used by your teammates. After all, Aya isn't Rambo: don't expect to rush in alone behind a stream of gunfire and overwhelm the Twisted.
So The 3rd Birthday is rooted in a classic series, it's a mix of action-RPG and third-person shooter, and you get to upgrade both Aya's DNA and the weapons she uses. What else could there possibly be? Well, how about a lot of costumes to keep your girl looking fresh? And how about the talents of some of Square Enix's brightest stars, like character designer Tetsuya Nomura, composer Yoko Shimomura, art director Isamu Kamikokuryo, producer Yoshinori Kitase, and director Hajime Tabata? The storytelling, the pace, and the pedigree are all promising. We'll know if The 3rd Birthday lives up to the hype this March 29.
Buy The 3rd Birthday on Amazon.com.