The 3rd Birthday – Gameplay Thoughts

Now, I’ve been wailing on the plot of the game but I haven’t gotten around to the gameplay yet.

As I said before, this isn’t a Parasite Eve game, however, it is a decent 3rd person action title.

Controls:

The controls are fairly straight-forward and I found them fairly easy to get used to.  Since The 3rd Birthday is a PSP game, you only have one analog stick, which means you have to rely on the auto-targeting (which you do have a bit of control over, although it can be a bit finicky sometimes) and while you can’t manually aim your weapons while moving around, there is a limited use manual aim mode for certain weapons.  The button presses don’t feel sluggish and you can have Aya Brea running around, flipping, and body warping about the screen once you get used to the lack of a second analog stick.  However, that does bring us to a slight problem with the camera…

The default camera faces in one direction and is controlled with the d-pad.  This is normally okay for larger areas, but when you’re trying to fire at something behind you that the camera can’t see, it makes Aya automatically turn around and face the direction the camera is looking.  This becomes a pain when you’re fighting some of the boss monsters that run around and warp because having to let go of the analog stick to move the camera around and then fire takes precious time and can get you killed.  You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem with the auto-targeting feature, but some weapons don’t use the targeting (grenades, sniper rifles, etc.), so going into aim mode, only to be looking straight at a wall is frustrating.  I did find something helpful as I was browsing the Options menu: a camera angle called “Behind”.  This not only gives you a nice view of Aya’s buttocks (It centers the camera on her ass, its kinda funny), it zooms the camera closer to the action, stays behind Aya whenever she’s moves around (except when auto-targeting, that would just make you sick with the way Aya rapidly switches between targets when they die), and (I love this) whenever you go into aim mode, it automatically faces the direction she’s looking.  You do have to correct a bit when going into aim mode since you can’t control exactly where she aims, it’s a much better option than the default camera.

Level Design

The 3rd Birthday has fairly linear level design with some areas that off-shoot from the main path for exploration and rewards or (and very, very rarely) death traps.  The levels are mostly flat with boss rooms having the most elevation.  The first 3/4ths of the game is mostly linear maps that you occasionally cross back over intermixed with mini-bosses (which I think are the highlight of the game, until they start killing you repeatedly…) and then end of level bosses.  This can get a bit tedious, but they start throwing in rail-shooter sections with some tank and helicopter driving and shooting sections mixed in for good measure.  You can replay any of the levels at any time up to your chosen difficulty level.  This feature mostly seems to be used for farming money and energy points for upgrades and getting better ranks and times for each level.

Gameplay Mechanics

The 3rd Birthday is a run-and-gun shooter with some cover-based mechanics thrown in as well as body switching.  As long as there’s someone nearby, Aya can quickly switch to their body and move them around and position them before switching to someone else.  This allows you to position soldiers behind cover and have them guard areas or even help you shoot a target, although these mechanics aren’t really used much except during boss fights.  I think they could have expanded on this mechanic more and designed the levels so it had more use besides running away when you had low health or getting a new weapon.  As you complete levels, you gain BP, which allows you to buy upgrades for your guns and unlock things like in-game cheats.  There’s also a huge DNA upgrading system that lets you give yourself new abilities that affect you during combat which involves mixing and lining up different types of orbs on a 3×3 grid.  Its rather complex, so this simple explanation will have to suffice.  The other mechanic they added in is rather minor, but along with your health bar, your clothing takes damage and shreds off until Aya is barely wearing anything but her panties and bra.  You could leave her this way, but your clothing acts as armor and the better condition it is in, the less damage you take directly to your health.  It’s a silly mechanic, but it is what it is.

Overall:

Replay Value: Moderate – you want that shower scene really bad don’t you?

Liked:

  • Fast gameplay is fun and easy to get into
  • The upgrade systems are in-depth and fun to mess around with
  • The body-warping mechanics are fun

Disliked:

  • Linear levels can get tedious
  • Storyline is utterly confusing
  • Not a Parasite Eve game at all
  • Default camera stinks – Use the “Behind” camera

Buy/Don’t Buy:

Don’t get the game if you’re expecting a Parasite Eve title.  However, its a decent 3rd person shooter and it might interest you even with all the fan service pandering and creepy characters.  I had fun with it, even if it wasn’t the Parasite Eve title I was hoping it would be.

Verdict:

Try to find it used if you aren’t sure.  It already was a budget title at $29.99 new.

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