So Third Birthday has left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, it's great to see Aya back in action in such a slick fashion; This is easily the most functional shooter on the PSP that I've ever played, largely due to the lock-on feature (which in no way detracts from the challenge). Gameplay is fast and smooth, sometimes feeling vaguely like Gears of War. The music is an invigorating throwback to the first game in composition and nuance. I was no fan of PE2's soundscape whatsoever, so its' nice to see Shimomura back.
Two interesting features that make their debut here are the "Overenergy" and "Overdive" systems. By diving into the psyche of allied NPCs in combat, you acquire Overenergy chips which can be combined with other chips to create interesting new effects and abilities. Careful manipulation of Overdive and mastery of OE chip splicing are important to success in this game and are interesting new takes on Aya's wicked cool parasite abilities. I haven't entirely figured out how they activate in battle; at first, it seemed to be utterly random, but I'm sure there's an FAQ out there somewhere.
On the other hand, however, many elements that made Parasite Eve so memorable to me have been eschewed. There is almost no down-time or exploration between missions; it is purely a linear shooter through and through. Opinions will be split on this aspect, but I enjoyed the quiet moments of exploration that PE1 and 2 had and wish it didn't deviate so far from that formula.
Another aspect that I'm not really digging is Aya's characterization. I miss her tough cop persona sorely; here, she comes off as a stammering, insecure buffoon in several of the cinemas. The game at least tries to rationalize this by way of her LOLamnesiaLOL, but it doesn't make the change any less jarring or annoying. Kunihiko Maeda makes a return appearance in the second half of the game to creep on Aya some more, making for some painfully awkward dialogue between the two.
All told, I'm enjoying it despite several of my misgivings about it.
Third Birthday thread? Or failing that, Parasite Eve general thread? I'm easy like Sunday mornin'.