The 3rd Birthday

For those of you who fondly remember the exploits of Aya Brea in the sublime PS1 game Parasite Eve and its serviceable sequel will have no doubt been eagerly anticipating a new sequel for some time now.  If that is the case then you may be left wanting as The 3rd Birthday is more different than it is similar to those PS1 games.

The 3rd Birthday is a single player third-person shooter and a good one at that. Set in New York, your goal is to travel back in time to alter the events of the past to secure the safety of Manhattan. By using Aya’s unique Overdive ability to assume spirit form you then take corporeal control of a soldier which allows you to dive between each member of the squad. The New York cityscape is dominated by The Babel, a gargantuan lifeform infesting buildings and spewing all manner of creatures (the Twisted).  Thankfully you have a range of weapons and abilities to help you infiltrate and despatch these fiends. That said, it’s not going to be easy.

The objective is kept simple: keep moving forward and killing the Twisted.  Thankfully the action stays exciting due to the diversity of the enemies. There are standard easier enemies aplenty, however it’s the ubiquity of more difficult enemies that will keep you on your toes, especially the bosses.  Each boss requires a different approach and rarely, if ever, will a head-on attack prove successful.  Positioning soldiers strategically whilst diving between them to attack from different angles is vital to your success but brilliantly this isn’t reserved for bosses.  There are numerous enemies that can almost be classed as sub-bosses and to vanquish them you need to adopt strategy. If you don’t, each one is capable of killing you quickly.  This makes each mission feel challenging and tense.  Thankfully, save points are generously distributed and give you the opportunity to collate your thoughts and press on.

Before a boss and throughout the level there are save points where you can (obviously) save but also upgrade/change weapons or return to the hub without forfeiting your Experience.  At these points you can also equip/upgrade DNA boards that are acquired by Overdiving. These provide you with a range of abilities/buffs to choose between.  This is essential and works well because due to the diversity of the bosses, you can quickly launch your save game and choose a more appropriate load out.  I would have liked more control in customising the DNA boards, however; they are implemented clumsily and are far too random to offer any strategic customisation and depth.  You can however create and switch between DNA boards for different tasks or situations. Say one for farming rare boards and one for beating bosses.

Using certain weapon types raises that specific stat and in so doing unlocks more weapons of that type.  By switching weapon layouts and replaying levels you acquire experience and Battle Points used to buy and upgrade weapons.  It’s definitely a shallow implementation of RGP tropes but it is enough impetus to keep you replaying levels.  This never felt like a chore because I was enjoying the dynamics and rhythm of the action as well as the constant and varying challenge.  As well as feeling I had to replay missions I wanted to as well.

Visually the game is hugely impressive, the environments look as good as any PSP game and the cutscenes are glorious. However, beneath that shiny veneer are some very base and sometimes irksome characters.  Aya comes across as a lost child whose dialogue consists mainly of a series of audible gasps and one of the characters that assists Aya is more creepy than the Twisted themselves.  It’s very difficult to feel endeared or even care for the characters, which leaves you with a sense of indifference.  There are unmistakable misogynistic undertones throughout the game that come across as juvenile and basically tasteless.  Instead of a strong female protagonist this Aya is just—damp.  A little more exposition and better character interaction/development would have gone a long way to making this a memorable experience.







One response to “The 3rd Birthday”

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo avatar
    Cristiano Ronaldo

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