You certainly can't criticise the Parasite Eve games for sticking to a formula. The original was an action RPG, the sequel a Resident Evil-style survival horror and this - called The 3rd Birthday but effectively Parasite Eve 3 - is a fast-paced third-person shooter.
The constant in all three is heroine Aya Brea; a kick-ass cop who has saved New York from genetically-engineered monsters. Twice. Oddly, for a city-saving hero, she has the personality of a damp sponge.
To be fair, she has lost her memory and been turned into a bio-weapon for the Counter Twisted Investigation team. Plus, what she lacks in sparkling personality is made up with her Overdive ability. It may have lost a little something in translation, but nevertheless it's also the thing that lifts The 3rd Birthday from a forgettable shooter to a rather tight, action-packed game.
The Overdive is Aya's ability to 'dive' into the consciousness of others - both in the past and present - and take over their bodies. Jumping into soldiers allows her not only to pick up their weapon loadout and health levels, but steal their strategic positions too.
In boss battles, this can be particularly useful; ditching weakened 'hosts' for fresh ones can keep you alive, allowing you to outflank enemies or even position soldiers in their own crossfire. Aya can also unleash an Overdive kill: with regular Twisted (as your enemies are known) this means bursting them from the inside. With bosses this causes big damage.
All this makes things pleasingly fast-paced and exciting. The way Aya ditches hosts when close to death while leaping instantly around levels couldn't be further from the old, cautious survival horror creeping. There's little finesse to the shooting however, boring corridors are sadly a recurring theme and we didn't get so much as a sniff of a birthday candle.
Nevertheless, this is a challenging, satisfying shooter that's bound to excite anyone who enjoyed Syphon Filter and Resistance: Retribution, earlier in PSP's life.
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An otherwise ordinary shooter redeemed with that game-changing Overdive idea
- Overdive mechanic is genius
- Combat is fast-paced and exciting
- Challenging and satisfying
- Pretty-but-dull heroine
- Boring environments are overused