The 3rd Birthday

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The 3rd Birthday
258303-the-3rd-birthday-psp-front-cover.jpg
Step back Final Fantasy, Aya has returned.
Genre: Action
Role-Playing
Platforms: PlayStation Portable
Release Date: JP: December 22, 2010
NA: March 29, 2011
EU: April 1, 2011
Developer: HexaDrive
Publisher: Square Enix
Made in: Japan
Franchise: Parasite Eve
Previous Game: Parasite Eve II


The 3rd Birthday is a 2010 role-playing third-person shooter video game developed by HexaDrive and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation Portable. The game is the third entry in the Parasite Eve series and a spin-off.

Plot

The game takes place in 2013, a year after creatures known as the Twisted have appeared from beneath Manhattan and decimated the city. To fight back against the Twisted, an investigatory team called the Counter Twisted Investigation (CTI) is formed. Among their number is series protagonist Aya Brea, who was found unconscious and suffering amnesia two years before the game's events.

Why It Rocks

  1. The gameplay consists of a typical third-person shooter formula. Aya has the ability to lock onto enemies immediately instead of free shooting.
  2. Aya has an array of guns to use which can be upgraded and made stronger by experience points.
  3. The game contains five difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard, Deadly and Insane.
  4. Aya's new power consists of a system called Overdive which allows her to swap places and control the bodies of nearby CTI members. She can also target Twisted and command all CTI members in the vicinity to crossfire.
  5. Damaging Twisted fills a red bar called Liberation. When it is full, Aya can unleash "Liberate" and deal massive damage to enemies.
  6. Aya can unlock many different outfits with many effects in gameplay, such as movement speed and resistance to damage.
  7. Over Energy is a gameplay mechanic exclusive from The 3rd Birthday and allows Aya to modify her DNA with fragments known as OE chips.
  8. A good PSP game, which utilizes the PSP's maximum graphical and hardware capabilities.
  9. Smooth framerate that never slows down.
  10. Solid gameplay mechanics.
  11. Great CGI cutscenes.
  12. Yoko Shimomura, the music composer from the first Parasite Eve, returned to compose the soundtrack.
  13. It explores the concept of time, memory and existence.
  14. Great level design of New York.
  15. Excellent graphics and cutscenes that has aged really well.
  16. Tetsuya Nomura returns creating the art style for Parasite Eve.
  17. Feats are specific tasks in The 3rd Birthday that can be cleared to unlock various rewards, such as new upgrade parts for weapons, and new cheat codes. Each chapter in the game has a fixed set of feats available in it. Many feat descriptions are at best vague hints as to what is required; some of the more obscure ones are compounded by tending to need particular strategies to actually meet the requirement, such as targeting certain enemies first, or moving soldiers around in a particular way. Episodes 0 and 6 have no feats.

Bad Qualities

  1. Heavily convoluted story filled with plotholes and continuity errors. The storyline written by Motomu Toriyama can be seen as extremely confusing, nonsensical, muddled and convoluted without motivation and connection.
  2. Almost all of the science-fiction elements from the series are removed in favor of more "fantasy" metaphysical elements such as building a device which somehow allows Aya to time travel into the past by sending her consciousness, consciousness-swapping, time paradoxes, fourth-dimensional alien creatures, etc. For example, the explanation behind the Twisted creatures are that they are "fragments of Aya's subconsciousness", though the game never clarifies anything beyond that, leading to suspension of disbelief. This is at odds since previous Parasite Eve games at least tried to have a scientific background, even if it seemed pseudoscience at times. The "biological horror" the series is known for has been changed to "cosmic horror" with aliens.
  3. Aya's portrayal is pretty weak and inconsistent with one part being an action hero and the other part being a damsel in distress. Especially seeing how she saved the world twice and has to prove herself all over again.
  4. Unnecessary use of fanservice as it does not fit the serious tone of Parasite Eve series.
    • A graphic shower scene where Aya makes moaning sounds.
    • Aya's clothes can tear off during battle, revealing much of her skin and running around the battlefield half naked. Although clothes can be repaired at save points throughout the game, it is inevitable that the player will receive too much damage during some battle and be forced to watch Aya run half-naked until the next save point.
    • Many fan-servicey alternate outfits, perhaps the most explicit being the Titanium Bunny which reveals her panties and buttocks.
    • Although subtle, Aya's breasts can also jiggle during combat, meaning the developers actually took time and resources to include it, instead of polishing the rest of the game.
    • In both combat and cutscenes, Aya is often seen on her last legs, frequently gasping in pain, crying, moaning, and stumbling over easily whenever being knocked down by an enemy, and even having painful difficulty combating with her powers.
    • The player can unlock a third "secret camera" which focuses on Aya's buttocks (while the player has access to a camera mode called "behind" from the get go which zooms in on Aya's buttocks, the "secret" camera simply zooms in even further). To unlock this camera angle, the player must beat the game 50 times in order to unlock the shower scene in the video log. The player must then watch this shower scene 10 times in a row, meaning the developers knew exactly what they were doing.
    • All of this is even made more disturbing considering how this is Eve in Aya's body. Due to the timeline of the series, Eve is about 13-15 years old chronologically. While Eve is "child prodigy" levels of intelligent, attending university as a child, she is technically still a teenager and a minor (in America, not Japan) forced into the body of a very sexualized woman.
    • In the end, the main antagonist of the story, Hyde, begins calling Eve "mother" and talking about her "descendants", and begins talking creepily about how he will be "inside" of her and asks her to "take me in", implying rape overtones. He claims that only by having offspring with her, this will prevent the end of the world. After Eve says she does not like that idea, Hyde refuses to let down.
  5. Going back to BQ #1, there are so many plot holes which are left unexplained. For example:
    • Why did Kyle kill the CTI and destroy the Overdive Device?
    • Maeda's first message in the mailbox says he "probably didn't like Aya diving around in the past", but this is still a questionable reason to kill the CTI. Another possibility is that Kyle was possessed by the High One, and the High One wanted to prevent Aya changing the past in order to protect its own existence. This could be hinted at when Kyle mentions the Twisted took control of his body.
    • Why does Kyle go to North Shallows Tower?
    • Why do random SWAT officers appear in the church and shoot Aya and Kyle?
    • Why/how the Babels exist, when did they exist, why they are underground, why do they appear at once, why do they merge into the Grand Babel after Kyle's death, etc.
    • Why/how defeating a High One causes a new timeline, and why it causes Aya to Ascent back to present time.
    • Why does defeating all High Ones open a time portal to Time Zero?
    • Why/how are Aya and Hyde transported to Rockefeller Center's ice skating rink near the game?
    • The game mentions Cray's wife and child died in 2006 in a freak accident. After the events of the game, history is altered so that they are inexplicably alive again, which does not make sense because Time Zero occurred in 2010, before all the history-warping. The 3rd Birthday also left the Parasite Eve series on a major cliffhanger, and provides no closure on Aya and Kyle: Is Aya dead? Did Kyle ever find "eternity"? Who was the woman who wished Eve happy fourth birthday in the secret ending?
    • Also criticized was Kunihiko Maeda's character. In the first game, Maeda was a shy and awkward scientist who had a platonic crush on Aya. In The 3rd Birthday, however, Maeda is noticeably "creepier" towards Aya, which is made more unsettling considering how Aya is really Eve, and his crush on Aya may have turned into lust.
  6. Awkward dialogue and script and as a result the voice acting suffers. But Jensen Ackles and Yvvone Stravhoski did try to do a good job voicing the characters. Despite the amount of breathing and gasping in Aya's voice.
  7. Terrible camera.
  8. Monotonous unlocking for extras. For example, to unlock the "T480C" weapon, the player must complete the game six times, which is more about mental endurance for repetitive gameplay than actual skill. Many of the weapon mods are hidden behind feats, but the game does not list which feat is necessary to unlock each mod, leading to confusion, so without a strategy guide or online walkthrough, the player is essentially forced to do all the feats until they receive what they want. Some called this backwards, and theorize it was done so that the game's strategy guides would get more sales, as there was one released by BradyGames in English, and multiple others in Japanese.
  9. Some criticism was aimed at the Over Energy system, with many players feeling that operating it was too confusing and a downgrade of the "melding" system from Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, and criticizing that it plays more like random stat boosts in gameplay as opposed to a traditional "magic" system. If the player does not fully grasp the system, they may also make "malignant" abilities which can hurt Aya by reducing her speed, slowing her healing, etc.

Reception

The game currently holds a score of 3.93 / 5 on GameFAQs and a 71/100 on Metacritic based on 56 reviews.

Despite the mixed to positive reviews of this game, DXFan619 gave a very negative score of "Character Assassinated" to this game due to the very convoluted plot of the game, claiming that combining the plots of Secret Files 3 and Star Ocean 4: The Lost Hope, and multiplying that by the plot of Metroid: Other M would be "fucking Shakespeare" compared to this game's story.

Trivia

  • The game was originally developed for mobile phones, but it later changed to the PlayStation Portable. In the end, this turned out to be a wise decision as it allowed for better graphics, controls and accessibility.
  • In the Japanese version, Aya's voice varies depending on her selected outfit. For example, wearing a cute outfit makes her sound cuter, while wearing Lightning's outfit makes her sound like Lightning.
  • The 3rd Birthday can be seen as being Eve's story, rather than Aya's, and her learning more about Aya and the people connected to her.
  • According to some unlockable files Aya can receive, Emily's nickname for Eve is "Rib". This is based off the Bible, in which God used a rib from Adam to create Eve, which Emily sees as sort of the same process of how Eve made her a "Higher One".
  • After Aya/Eve defeats "Awakened Hyde", he appears back in Time Zero. Being a High One, normally one can't go back to a point previous to its birth, as it would cause contradictions. Hyde calls this "the wall of time". In order to surpass that wall, Hyde (as a High One) dies once and remains hidden inside Eve's memories as a kind of data, as Eve has an Overdive ability superior to his.
  • Despite being the main antagonist, Hyde's goals are ethically ambiguous and it can be argued he's not malicious, malevolent or evil. He simply wants to find a way to end the cycle of time he is trapped in, and he also tells Eve that he wants to end the war against the Twisted. He is also being controlled by a High One.

References

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