The last thing I ever want to do is produce passages that read like “I picked up the Zoo key. I opened the chest and got a shotgun. Then I went through the second door on the left and fought two monkeys and a zebra.” So I hope you can forgive me for being a tad light on gameplay details in most of these posts.
Trust the NYPD, Or the Terrorists Win
Day 2, Resonance, starts off with the NYPD trying to figure out just what the hell went down at Carnegie Hall last night, and Parasite Eve briefly becomes a police procedural. Normally I come down hard on games with long non-playable sequences, and the first half of Day Two is almost all cutscenes, but unlike a lot of games, this stuff was legitimately interesting the first time.
A particularly interesting sequence is the press conference, where Police Chief Baker cautions Aya not to give the press anything without going through him first, and Aya infuriates him by telling the truth at the event. To this day, I’m not sure who’s right here: The gut reaction is Aya, because she is Telling the Truth, however, can you imagine how that news bite would go?
”Attention citizens of NYC: This just in, superpowers are real, there is a deranged mutant opera singer on the loose who can kill hundreds of people with a thought, and the police can’t approach her for fear of officers bursting into flame. The only one who MIGHT be able to stop her is a 25-year-old rookie cop who looks like she weighs about 90 pounds soaking wet, capable of casting only the spells ‘Heal’, ‘Scan’ and ‘Heal 2’. Residents are advised to stay in the house, run if they hear anything that sounds like Puccini, and try not to spontaneously combust. And now back to “Dancing With the Stars.”
Baker is right when he says that the truth, if anyone even believes it, will only cause hysteria. However, the reporters’ questions make it seem as though they already have a pretty good idea just what happened at Carnegie Hall and are digging for details, in which case lying outright will accomplish nothing except making people distrust the authorities on top of everything else.
The cover story that Baker is trying to put over is that the event was a terrorist attack engineered with flammable chemicals (and you know that you might have a serious problem there when a sophisticated terrorist attack using chemical weapons has become the lie that you tell to calm people down.) In 1998, terrorism was still pretty far off the average person’s radar (at least in the US), and senseless attacks on non-military targets especially, so it seemed at the time like Baker was trying to pull anything he could think of out of his ass rather than tell the truth. Let’s just say that time has been kind to Baker and his cover story.
There’s a subtle thing going on here with Aya, Daniel and Baker, that before this incident Aya was the untried rookie whom everybody liked but didn’t quite trust or respect, and her sudden unavoidable promotion to the most prominent field agent has turned the whole chain of command on its head. People can give Aya any kind of orders they want, but she’s the only one with any real power in this situation, literally and figuratively. She’s afraid of Eve’s cold, survival-of-the-fittest mentality, but in some respects she exemplifies it. The subtitle of PE is “The worst foe lies within the self.” To its credit, usually it does interesting things with this idea without hitting you over the head with it. Usually.
I Can’t Trust You With a Gun, But Here’s A Bear Rifle
Another fascinating thing- what can I say, Day Two is just fascinating- involves Aya going to the weapons department and getting a rifle from gun-hating cop Torres, who gets his own tiny little subplot about firearms. I wonder: how many games have addressed guns?
Now I know, guns are to video games like snowflakes are to winter and sugar is to Fruit Loops, but when was the last time you played a game that actually had anything to say, whatsoever, about guns? Usually, you collect tons of weapons and use them all with abandon, and maybe if the game considers itself progressive, there will be some kind of vague anti-war message in there somewhere, and then you go right back to shooting. That’s not as hypocritical as I’m making it sound: I can go to the Arms and Armor section at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and marvel at the beauty of the elaborate swords and crossbows and lances, and completely ignore the fact that those items were designed to help commit acts of violence.
So I don’t expect every game that includes guns, which is a lot of them, to address the morals or the politics. In fact, I can understand why they wouldn’t want to touch any of that stuff with a ten-foot pole. Nevertheless, Parasite Eve is the only game I’ve ever played that actually came out and took a stance on the role of guns in personal defense, and I think that’s remarkable. I’ll have more to say about it when the subplot culminates in Day Three.
By the way, if I was Queen of the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art would be the final dungeon in PE3. Actually, if I was Queen of the world, the Met would be the final dungeon everywhere.
First Trip to Museum of Natural History, Also: Crazy Man
After a harried phone call from Maeda, geeky Japanese scientist extraordinaire whom we will meet very soon, the NYPD learns of a scientist named Klamp who’s researching mitochondria. Aya and Daniel take off to go talk to Klamp in the first of many trips to his lab in what will become a very memorable part of PE. As the game progresses, we get to watch Aya and Daniel get increasingly pissed and homicidal while Klamp gets increasingly batshit crazy, and the beauty of it is, he started out crazy. Eve is a memorable villain in that she’s uniquely designed and the opera vocals that accompany her are a nice touch, but she’s really a monster; she’s only as interesting as the reactions she gets out of Aya. The most interesting villains are of course the ones whom you can understand and almost sympathize with, and Klamp fills that role.
Klamp works in the Museum of Natural History, which doesn’t make a helluva lot of sense considering his vocation, but it’s an excuse to have the Museum as the final dungeon. The characters do comment on the strangeness of the location, which Daniel chalks up to Klamp not exactly being known for his people skills. Aya groans, anticipating what a huge pain in the ass dealing with this guy is going to be (Oh sweetheart, you have no idea), leading to a warning from Daniel not to act rashly like she did at the press conference. Now, I would just say ‘Uh, Pot, Kettle, Black?’, but Aya takes a different approach.
This sensible plea for moderation brought to you by Daniel “Punches Reporters in the FACE” Dollis.
I’ll continue with the amazing first meeting of Aya and Klamp next time, when I cover the second half of Day Two. Now, you certainly don’t want to miss that–