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Parasite Eve

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Released: 1998

Genre: RPG

Format reviewed: PlayStation

Publisher: Square

Developer: Square

Submitted by: Craig Hawkins

Parasite Eve is a sequel to Hideaki Sena's novel of the same name. It's a survival horror RPG; Resident Evil with random battles and stats, if you like. That sounds quite repellent, I know, and for some it is, but the gameplay is by far the least interesting aspect of the game – not all that surprising when you take into account that it's a Square game from the FMV-mad mid-90s.

The action begins in New York on Christmas Eve of 1997, unravelling over a five day period. The opening movie sees Aya Brea, a female NYPD officer and PE’s protagonist, attending an opera. In one of the great FMVs, the occupants of the theatre, both onstage and in the audience, spontaneously combust with the exception of Aya, her date and an actress on the stage.

Aya confronts the actress who mutates, refers to herself as Eve and warns Aya that 'the day for the mitochondria to be free has arrived' and that Aya’s 'Mitochondria are not yet ready'. (Regrettably, Aya doesn’t retort with, 'I asked for two lattes anyway'.) Aya and Eve's fates are intertwined and PE becomes a rare breed of game in which both the antagonist and protagonist are female.

And while I'd love to spend the majority of these 350 allocated words writing an essay on mitochondria and embellishing the game's backstory of a scientist culturing the cells of his stricken wife, which are subsequently overtaken by her mitochondria, and how Eve plans to steal the scientist's seed (I'm about to faint) to give birth to the Ultimate Being and threaten an apocalypse, I'll leave it at that.

Flawless production values, a captivating plot and critically acclaimed 'electro-opera' score combine to make this one of Square's finest PlayStation releases. The gameplay and controls suffer from the same weaknesses all RPGs and survival horrors are susceptible to, but the strengths of the two genres are also successfully fused. Parasite Eve and its sequel are blessed with a large cult following and are essential items for the discerning PlayStation collector.