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The ever so lovely Aya Brea returns for the second instalment of Parasite Eve. After her first encounter with the mitochondria-enhanced Eve, Aya has become a little bit younger due to her abnormal genes. This time around she returns to find more cases of mitochondria-enhanced beasts, as well as some really weird, masked people.

A lot has changed since Parasite Eve. The first notable change is the battle system. Parasite Eve used the often-abused Active Time Battle, but number two throws it out of the window and instead opts for a real-time system. Battles begin ala Chrono Trigger; enemies are visible on the screen and when you touch them, you'll enter battle mode. Alternatively, if you don't want to be too close to those monsters or want an element of surprise, you can just point your weapon at the monster to initiate battle. Of course the worse case scenario would be the monsters seeing you to initiate battle.

It's in real-time, so what's the difference between the battle mode and the normal game, you ask. Nothing much really, except for escaping. You can only escape a battle by running out of that section, funnily enough. However, if you run out while in battle mode, you'll lose Bounty Points, where as if you just waltz past the creatures without initiating battle, you won't lose anything.

Speaking of Bounty Points, that's another major difference. You can now buy weapons, items, ammunition, etc. by spending Bounty Points. Bounty Points are gained after a section is cleared of monsters, and its amount varies. Also, thanks to Aya's enhanced senses (well, I think it's due to that...) you can see whether a section is occupied by enemies or not on the map. These areas are marked red on the map.

Games like Resident Evil experienced problems with seeing your opponents in different camera angles. Parasite Eve 2 tries to improve the situation by putting up a small radar to show the position of the monsters. That way you can see which monsters are too close for comfort in case you can't see them on the screen and target appropriately. Although it is a bit troublesome, it is definitely better than guessing where your opponents are.

The first game was graphically impressive, and this is no different. Just as the first, the game has polygonal characters with pre-rendered backgrounds. Although the characters look jaggy at sometimes, they are very detailed. It is obvious that the creators are really pushing the cinematic RPG theme, with a cool camera movement following Aya as she enters the first scenario. Parasite Eve 2 also employs an 'interactive background', where you can cut off electric cords or blow up pipes to inflict damage on your opponent.

But what is Parasite Eve without Parasite Energy? Instead of learning them, Aya can now choose what Parasite Energy to have by using experience points. As usual, experience is obtained at the end of battles, and this can be used to 'purchase' Parasite Energy powers. Since battles are now real-time, they work a little differently. You can use it anytime you want. Every time you want to choose a power to use, the whole battle will freeze while you choose. Whilst choosing as well, the screen will show the radius of the attack, and which creatures will be affected as different spells affect different areas.

That said and done, how good is the game actually? It is actually a good game, which exceeds its predecessor a long way. However, if it was not obvious that Square was trying to challenge Resident Evil with Parasite Eve, it is now. Although not as scary as Resident Evil, Parasite Eve is frightening, from the monsters to the sudden appearances of them creatures (don't trust your map too often...). Some might not like it for trying to emulate Resident Evil, but if you can get past that little fact, you'll enjoy Parasite Eve 2 and Aya Brea.

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