On first glance, PE II is very much in with a long line of Resident Evil 2 clones released in the latter part of the 90’s. However, scratch the surface and you find more than just a RE clone.
The games combat engine incorporates elements of Final Fantasy and Aya Brea, the titular heroine has (apart from a healthy interest in assault rifles) a nifty sideline in supernatural mitchcondrial powers which she can use to heal, protect and attack. That’s right, I said Mitochondrial, whether this is linked to the force or not is entirely in the hands of George Lucas’s lawyers.
The plot of the game is that Brea is on the hunt for a genetic mutant in a child’s body called Eve. Her travels take her from a SWAT team massacre at the Akropolis tower in downtown LA, to the fictional Arizona town of Dryfield. Finally, discovering clues about a secret underground base, Aya travels deep into the heart of the super weapon Eve.
So, the game is presented as 3d characters against the raytraced 2d backgrounds and the main element is puzzle hunting around the level. When Aya meets some of these Mitochondrial mutants she goes into ‘combat mode,’.
The game totes an almost unworkable camera setup with so many blindspots, sometimes Aya will be fighting opponents she never sees. Whilst it adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere, it is a tad overdone.
Also the controls are pretty horrendous and attempting to jockey and invade opponents is an art form in itself. That is, until you realize you can run right through most opponents, literally. Run you must, as sometimes its better to limp off and regroup than get killed.
The most novel part of PE II is that you collect battle points (BP) for every win, these can be spent aquiring new weapons or weapon add-ons, this gives the game an almost fun RPG style as you hunt for more beasties to earn more points to spend.
You also receive a topup of Mitochondrial Points (MP) which you deplete after every battle should you choose to use your fledgling powers on the muties. Sometimes, guns are not enough as you can find yourself surrounded and being attacked by beatsies upon entering a room.
And use them you should, as there is nothing quite like sending a wall of fire through your opponents or poisoning their cells and watching with glee as they kill themselves and each other.
Each of the MP powers get unlocked slowly as you progress and have full descriptions as to what they are and what kind of blast radius to expect. They are split into earth, air, fire and water.
There is an element of kid in the sweetshop as you save up your hard earned BP and purchase new weapons, from the standard shop setup’s littered around the different levels. Its then straight back out into the field to muller some more ‘biohazards’ with your new toys, sorry I mean ‘Mito-Chondrial mutants’…!
The game has a number of alternative storyline endings, which are followed through seemingly innocuous turns in the story.
The big bosses throughout were diverse and interesting and…well…. a bit sick, the one you meet in the desert is a huge fat mutant with a flame thrower for a gob, I mean who came up with that image?
The end of game big boss has almost gone down in folklore as one of the most difficult ever to beat, not helped by a final save point which happens well before you meet it.
Not content with making you expend your bullets and MP energy against one boss (which looks like a mutant pink jelly baby) you end up fighting a second one which looks like an angel and flies around the screen like a canary on steroids.
Still, the challenge is here if you want it. The makers haven’t held back from making this game as hard as possible, even in normal mode.
For all of its obvious faults and similarities to Resident Evil, PE II is a great game in some aspects and in others it even surpasses Resident Evil. Blasting things with guns is fun enough but destroying them with MP is just inspired.
Let’s have a part 3 or a remastered version please!