I was a little surprised to see the turn Parasite Eve II takes in regard to the original, which was more of a traditional role-playing game. This sequel is just what Brad says it is—a Resident Evil clone that tries to keep its feet in both genres. I must admit that Squaresoft has the formula nailed—the still photographic scenery; the awkward control-scheme; the zombie-like bad guys—and let's not forget the beautiful heroine who does all her fighting in a leather mini-skirt! The lead character, Aya Brea, is also a member of a special police force that has a "cool" acronym—MIST. And just like the STARS team in Resident Evil, MIST not only sends one person at a time into the monster fray, but they also expect her to do it all by herself! Pretty demanding job if you ask me. Of course all the locations where the monsters like to hide are desolate and spooky, and even though Aya makes several gun-toting friends on location, she ends up doing most of the monster blasting on her own.

That's only one of the things about these horror games that I've never understood. If you have a heavily-armed police force that's trained specifically for reducing monsters to kibbles and bits, why only send the frail-looking chick? Why not send them all? It seems like your chances of success would be much higher, right? I guess if we attempt to answer such a question we wouldn't have a game though, so that point is moot. However, I have to question why Squaresoft didn't try to do something else with this game beyond sticking to the standard horror formula. All the stuff with the magic and mitochondria is all well and good, but the game still looks and plays just like all the other survival horror games. After so many attempts by various developers at this kind of game—without any of the basic design changing—it gets a little tiresome.

I have to disagree with Brad concerning the puzzles that must be solved in Parasite Eve II. To me, they didn't seem very reasonable at all. There's one part in which Aya can't open a locked door to a deserted and wrecked general store out in the desert, but of course she has to get in there. Instead of breaking the already cracked and ancient front window, or simply taking out her assault rifle and blowing the lock on the door to smithereens, Aya has to find some rope so she can lower herself into a well (which of course is dark as hell and filled with monsters) and use a secret underground passage to get into the store. Another puzzle that comes to mind is one in which an old car on a hydraulic lift is blocking a door that Aya needs access to. Any reasonably fit human being could easily climb over the car to get to the door (it's a small sedan for crying out loud). But in Parasite Eve II, Aya has to turn on the power to the lift; fuss with the hydraulic controls; open an iron gate from the other side; go back; fuss with the controls again; and finally get to the door the car was blocking by going through the unlocked gate (whew). Puzzles like that don't make much sense to me. They're not even challenging—they're tedious. But as in any other game of this type, you have to keep reminding yourself it's just that—a game. Consequently, all logic is thrown out the window.

Just about everything else in this game was fully expected. I expected the scene in which we get to watch Aya take a nap and a shower in the monster-infested hotel (how could she possibly sleep when monsters are practically in the next room?). I expected the enemies that attack you before you can even see them. What I didn't expect was the lack of spoken dialogue. As Brad says, the characters talk to each other like mimes—making lots of gestures but no noise—with subtitles along the bottom. It threw me to see all of this dialogue going back and forth and yet everything staying quiet. Perhaps Square was trying to spare us the pitiful voice acting of the Resident Evil games, or perhaps Square was just cutting corners on the game's budget (because hiring voice talent, even bad voice talent, is expensive). Whatever the case, I think Brad's right—bad voice talent is better than none at all. I think I might even have cared more about the characters had there been voices to associate them with.

Parasite Eve II adheres strictly to the rules of the game it plays, so fans of these types of games might enjoy it. I enjoyed some of the game's scary moments and its spooky imagery, and I even enjoyed looking at Aya in that mini-skirt (she's rendered very nicely). But I wasn't into the unfair and mostly boring tactics games like this have to rely on to challenge the player. Playing the latest survival horror game reminded me of how annoying it is to have enemies approaching you from all sides and not being able to see all of them due to the fixed perspectives and fake environments.

I don't know about the game's story—mitochondria and cellular behavior and all that jazz. I guess the game's having fun with the sci-fi possibilities there, and it is kind of imaginative (though probably not plausible). If you take it at face value, it can be entertaining. The best line in the game: "Our mitochondria will have the last laugh!" Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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