The 3rd Birthday - Review

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Release Date: 14/04/2011

The 3rd Birthday on PSP

Memory Loss

The 3rd Birthday is actually a spin-off from Parasite Eve, a long-forgotten survival horror role-playing series last seen in 2000 not that you'd know it from the title. As it turns out, the gameplay bears very little resemblance to its supposed source material, either. Instead of creeping around demon-infested Manhattan, defeating fearsome enemies, you're helping a squad of soldiers shoot megabosses to death in a linear third-person shooter.

It does at least star the same character. Her name is Aya Brea, and in Parasite Eve she was a newbie NPD cop but she doesn't remember any of that.

You can dive into The 3rd Birthday's story without feeling like you've missed anything. Aya wakes up in a blood-soaked wedding dress in 2010 without a single memory of what came before, or why she can suddenly transfer her soul from body to body.

The 3rd Birthday on PSP

Overdiving test

It's this ability named Overdive that forms the core of The 3rd Birthday's shooting mechanic. If any of your AI helpers happen to be in your immediate proximity, a quick stab of the triangle button sends you directly into his or her body, and serves as a handy means of topping up your health and ammo.

After the game spends a while shouting at you to take advantage of flanking positions, it settles into a pleasantly restless groove where you're constantly sizing up whose body to occupy next.

Meet the new boss

This positional strategy becomes especially apparent on some of the game's more testing encounters, in which you essentially play tag-team bash-the-weak-spot. With numerous soldiers to switch between, you might need one of them, for example, to stray from the pack and leg it up to a vantage point before you can start to do any real damage.

Once the boss turns its attention on him, it's usually a good idea to swiftly switch back to someone on the opposite side to continue chipping away at its health bar.

Once the basic mechanics are nailed down, The Third Birthday boils down to a relentless series of encounters against the Twisted masses. But the ability to instantly dive into the body of any of the human allies that populate the environment is a pleasant distraction from many of the game's less interesting moments.

The 3rd Birthday delights in cranking the difficulty up. A single hit can sometimes lop off half your health. Anyone who pines for the days when you used to have to battle vicious enemies with minimal health and without the safety net of checkpointing will be in their element, but otherwise it's harsh.

The 3rd Birthday on PSP

Out of control

The camera can be difficult at times, too, but Square Enix has done a reasonable job of mapping a third-person shooter onto a one-stick handheld. Most of the time, the game's lock-on serviceably snaps the reticule to the nearest enemy, but when you need to manually adjust your aim or target specific body parts of an er-boss, it can be more fiddly.

When you reach a chapter's conclusion though, there's satisfaction to be had. You can bask in temporary calm, take in the game's exhaustive DNA upgrade system, and spend some of your hard-earned cash on the usual assortment of weapon upgrades. 

If you're really invested in the completely cracked storyline, you can immerse yourself in the unending character bios and logs. Eventually it becomes clear how Aya developed her Overdive ability, who she was getting married to and what the Twisted are all about. If you find yourself gripped by the shifting plot, The 3rd Birthday makes it worth plugging through to the end - but expect a slightly bumpy ride to the game's conclusion.

GAME's Verdict:


The Good
  • Sharp, detailed visuals.
  • Intense boss battles.
  • Innovative 'body-surfing' game mechanics.
The Bad
  • The difficulty level is all over the place.
  • Laughably over-complicated storyline.
  • Controls can get fiddly in the heat of battle.
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Pegi Rating:

Suitable for people aged and over.

Genre

Action/Adventure

Customer Rating:

No rating yet

SKU:

Reviews-183630
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