Top 10 PSOne Soundtracks

Sony’s PlayStation was first introduced to households in 1995 and took the market by storm.  Within roughly nine years, it shipped over 100 million units and had a library of over 2400 titles (worldwide).  It was clear that Sony was extremely successful with their first home console.  With so many great titles that are still seeing sequels this generation, it was a stepping stone for many new franchises.  With so many titles on the PSOne, it was certainly no easy task to choose the “Top 10” soundtracks for this console.  Well, here’s my Top 10 PSOne Soundtracks…

– Dino Crisis 2

Capcom’s alter-ego survival horror sequel may have gone the route of pure action but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Dino Crisis 2 was an intense game with a very good story and excellent soundtrack.  Whether you were exploring the jungle taking down some velociraptors or fighting a T-Rex in a missile silo that was about to self-destruct (real original Capcom…), the songs perfectly sculpted the scenarios.

 

– Resident Evil 2

What is considered to many as the best Resident Evil installment of all time, Resident Evil 2 was a massive upgrade to the original.  With much better voice acting, better visuals, better gameplay mechanics and a much better soundtrack, it was everything an excellent sequel should be.  I’ll never forget the first time I heard the music that initiated upon entering the Raccoon City Police Station to when I heard the awesome “Escape from the Laboratory” song that played during a…you guessed it, self-destruct sequence that Capcom staples into practically every game they make.

 

– Parasite Eve

Now, this one was a title I’ve always wanted to play when it was originally released but thanks to the PSN releasing it on the PlayStation Store, I bought it and had the opportunity to finally play it.  Parasite Eve is an excellent action/rpg hybrid with a gripping story, addictive gameplay and brilliant soundtrack composed by Yoko Shimomura.  The soundtrack is absolutely genius and was one of the main factors for pushing me to keep advancing through the game.  The boss battle music alone is, well…just take a listen to it below to hear how dark and awesome it is.

 

– Syphon Filter 2

I clearly remember back in day that PlayStation fans would have debates about which stealth game was better, Metal Gear Solid or Syphon Filter.  I personally felt they were two entirely different games but that’s just my opinion.  Either way, Syphon Filter 2 was my introduction into the franchise and was a great game.  Great conspiracy theory story, impressive gameplay mechanics and an intense soundtrack that suitably fit each set piece that the game had to offer.

 

– Metal Gear Solid

A PS1 classic that redefined the way we watch…er…play cinematic games.  Metal Gear Solid had excellent stealth mechanics that were second to none at the time as well as an extremely well written story.  Solid Snake, one of the most popular characters in video game history was also one of the most likable thanks to great voice acting from David Hayter.  However, not only did Metal Gear Solid have outstanding voice work, it had one of the most exhilarating soundtracks ever made for a video game.  From the menu music, to Psycho Mantis’s hymn, to the incredibly intense boss battle music, Metal Gear Solid had an astonishing soundtrack from beginning to end.  If you’ve never experienced the original Metal Gear Solid, be sure to download it ASAP from the PSN.

 

– Wild 9

Now many of you may be wondering what Wild 9 even is.  Wild 9 was a 2.5D action/platformer from the team that brought you Earthworm Jim and was as comical as that game.  In this inventive title, the core gameplay element was to find ways of torturing your enemies with “The Rig” that Wex Major (the main protagonist) weilds.  This allows you to grapple enemies with an energy-like whip and throw them into dangerous environmental objects to help you advance throughout the levels.  The soundtrack was also a big standout for this title.  It was an energy-infused soundtrack that really nailed the feel of the game.  Just take a listen below at the opening stage’s song…it’s “wexcellent!”

 

– The Legend of Dragoon

Now the PSOne was very well known for it’s enormous selection of RPGs, many of which had outstanding soundtracks.  However, there was one in particular that stood out for me…The Legend of Dragoon.  Throughout your journey of Endiness, the songs played throughout the game are very catchy and the battle music would easily get stuck in your head.  Take a listen below…

 

– Final Fantasy VII

Ah yes, Final Fantasy VII…the one game that so many fans keep asking an HD remake for.  Final Fantasy VII is considered one of the most classic titles that ever graced the PlayStation.  With it’s gripping story, to it’s enormous world to explore, to the captivating soundtrack, there’s plenty of reason to believe why it’s so beloved by fans of the franchise.

 

– Jet Moto 2

Sony’s futuristic racer was a creative, fun title that certainly could use a new installment for this generation.  Jet Moto 2 was a sleek racing game that gave your hoverbike an energy grapple that you could use to quickly swing around bends, adding a unique mechanic to the game.  The level designs were very impressive, the AI was challenging and the soundtrack was an adrenaline rush.  Just take a listen at the track attached below to the level where you’d be racing on a snow peak that even Sylvester Stallone wouldn’t climb (“Cliffhanger” reference for those of you who remember that movie).

 

– Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

What is considered the greatest Castlevania game in the existence of the series, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night puts you in the role of Alucard, son of Dracula, to stop the Lord of Darkness from being resurrected.  Castlevania: SotN was the first Castlevania title to have a completely new style of play that was along the lines of Metroid and borrowed heavily on RPG style elements.  It was still a Castlevania game at it’s heart despite the massive change from the originals, but it worked so well that it set a new standard for later entries in the series.  The soundtrack was brilliantly composed, having some old classics remixed to having new pieces to listen to that perfectly captured the gothic-esque environment, adding a very creepy feel to the game.

 

There you have it.  There’s an abundant amount of games the PSOne had with such excellent soundtracks but these were the 10 that stood out to me the most.  Sound off your thoughts in the comments below!

The 3rd Birthday Review (PSP)

The 3rd Birthday is a third person, tactical-action RPG title developed by HexaDrive and published by Square Enix.  It is the third installment in the Parasite Eve franchise, which were previously released on the PS1 (PE1 was released in 1998, PE2 in 2000).  Eleven years later and fans can rejoice that a new title is finally available for the PSP platform.

 

Story: 4/5

The 3rd Birthday’s storyline starts off with a very impressive opening cinematic showing New York City on Christmas Eve in 2012, being overrun by the “twisted”, life-forms that attack and consume humans.  As the “twisted” are overrunning the streets, plant-like roots are risen from the ground and form the “babel” within the heart of NYC.  The “babel” is essentially the heart of the “twisted’s” life span as it controls them.  Within the time of the attack, a Counter Twisted Investigation (CTI) unit is formed, led by Dr. Hyde Bohr.  Bohr finds Aya Brea, blood-soaked in her wedding dress outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral prior to the “twisted’s” attacks and at a severe loss of memory.  Upon bringing her in, the CTI soon discovered Aya’s ability to dive into other bodies and take control of them.  This was dubbed as “Overdive”.  The CTI created a machine that allowed Aya to utilize her “Overdive” ability into the past to try and rectify the events occurring with the “twisted”.  Throughout the story, Aya will piece together memories little by little until she fully remembers her past while trying to rewrite time.  Fans will remember that Aya Brea was a tough character in prior installments of the franchise, but in this one, she’s very fragile and vulnerable where she’ll whimper more than speak.  By the end though, there’s surprisingly a good explanation for that.  While the story is a bit convoluted and has you questioning “what’s going on exactly” (if you don’t read all the files you unlock as you progress), it does come together pretty well by the end, thus making it worthwhile to reach the finale to see how everything ties up.  There’s quite a few plots twists throughout the course of the story, especially by the end, and fans of the Parasite Eve series will appreciate the continuity that some of the characters return.

Gameplay: 4/5

The first thing to point out is that every installment in the Parasite Eve franchise has played entirely different.  The first Parasite Eve played more like an RPG, while the second entry played more like Resident Evil.  This time around, the game plays like a tactical, over-the-shoulder shooter similar to Resident Evil 4 & 5, Dead Space and Mass Effect.  You’ll be able to also command your squad to link up and do a “crossfire” attack where they’ll all focus their fire on a specific targeted enemy, which is extremely helpful throughout the game.  With Aya’s ability to “Overdive” into soldiers on the battlefield and control them, you now have to utilize your surroundings to take out the enemies.  The “Overdive” system is definitely the main mechanic you will be relying on throughout the whole game.  While holding down the triangle button, you’ll be able to look around for another soldier and quickly jump into their body.  While scanning for someone to jump in to, the game will display the soldier’s health and special weapon they have equipped as you’re looking around.  This becomes essential to master as you progress throughout the game because if you die using a soldier and aren’t quick enough to “dive” into another body, it’s game over.  Aya also has access to her “liberation” ability again in this title but works differently than before.  In this installment, she’ll start glowing and pull out double handguns.  At this point, she’s able to speed dash around the environment and rapidly fire her guns at the locked-on enemies, which also leads to being able to pull off an “Overdive kill” in the process.  While it’s not exactly as effective as her original “liberation” move from the first Parasite Eve, it’s still helpful in tight situations.

The 3rd Birthday is without a doubt, a deep and rich experience for the PSP and that’s partly due to it’s upgrading system.  The upgrade system consists of two different section, the “Over Energy DNA Board” and the “Weapon Bank”.  The “Over Energy DNA Board” is used to upgrade Aya’s abilities on the battlefield.  Whether you’re increasing her stats to heal faster, pull off critical shot more frequently or make crossfires more powerful (just to name a few), it’s essentially your way to equip “perks”.  There are nine slots available to place “DNA” across the 3×3 board.  You’ll earn the DNA by pulling off “Overdive kills” against the “twisted” occasionally, but not every time depending on your “perks” equipped.  When you do have DNA in your inventory and try equipping them on your board, it’s a bit of a puzzle as you’ll have to analyze the best way to lay it out on the board.  The reason you’ll have to play around with it is because when you acquire new DNA, you want to try to make sure your new upgrades match up with what you already have on your filled DNA board.  If you overwrite the previous with new DNA, you’ll lose the perk that was there before, so you’ll have to think carefully what you want equipped.  As you progress, you’ll earn more DNA boards so that you can have multiple layouts to your liking.  When you need to upgrade your weapons, you’ll access your “Weapon Bank”.  In here, you’ll be able to choose your weapon loadout and customize the abilities of your weapons.  You’ll always have your standard pistol equipped on you at all times with infinite ammo so you can’t take that out of your loadout.  However, you’ll still have two extra slots to equip your extra weapons, which range from handguns, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers and special weapons.  There’s a large variety of guns to unlock and choose from, and you’ll do so as you upgrade your weapon rank.  Each weapon category rank increases the more you use those specific weapon types.  The higher your rank, the better the upgraded equipment you can buy for those weapons.  When customizing guns, you’ll be able to upgrade their power, impact, capacity and accuracy.  However, as you’re upgrading, you’ll have to keep an eye on the actual upgrade meters at the top of the screen to see if each category is tailored to what you’re looking for.  Each weapon is based on weapon power, bullet power, bullet impact, handling and range.  As you can see, the upgrade system is complex, yet deep.  The only problem is that it takes some time to really get the feel of it.

The game takes place over the course of six episodes (seven, if you include the tutorial), lasting about roughly 8-10 hours.  Unlike the first Parasite Eve title, The 3rd Birthday is based on a more linear structure as opposed to having to choose a destination on the NYC map.  Gameplay wise, it is truly an intense game, keeping you at the edge of your seat as you’re shooting, dodging and diving your way through the story.  To even change up the pace a bit, there’s a few sections where you’ll man a turret on vehicles or fly a helicopter blowing up every “twisted” in sight.  It’s cool that the developers included these extra mechanics as it adds variety to the overall gameplay.  The biggest highlight for this game are the boss battles, which are epic in every possible way: challenging, massive and very clever.  Each boss battle is fought with a different strategy and as you’re fighting the horrific creatures, you’ll be astounded at what it is you’re doing in the middle of the fight.  Upon completion of the game, you’ll be allowed to start a second playthrough with everything you earned throughout your first time around, a feature that should be in almost every game.  Doing so adds the incentive of wanting to replay the game.  Furthermore, you’ll unlock cheats for completing the game such as faster health regeneration and faster crossfire “linkage” time, which is a nice bonus.  If you look at the cheats menu, you’ll see there is a ton of different cheats that can be unlocked by fulfilling the specified requirements.  You’ll even unlock multiple costumes throughout your playthroughs, which just adds even more incentive to go back and replay the game.  Bottom line, The 3rd Birthday is just oozing with replay value.

The only thing is that while the controls work very well for the PSP, the camera might be a slight pain to adjust in the middle of heavy action scenes, seeing that it’s assigned to the d-pad.  Try running around a massive “twisted” creature with the analog nub and turning the camera with the d-pad at the same time…unnecessary finger cramping.  However, to be fair, this was only during one of the boss fights that I dealt with this, but it’s a very minor issue that otherwise never plagued me throughout the game.  This is not a new occurrence as most PSP titles seem to have the “camera” issue due to the lack of a second analog nub, but it’s worth noting.  The director of the game stated that throughout the production process of the game, they realized they would’ve been better suited in developing the title for a home console.  His statement is exactly what ran through my mind as I played through the game.  Granted they showed their mastery of the PSP with this title, but it definitely would’ve been better suited for a home console.  All things considered though, this is one of the most ambitious titles ever for the PSP.

Graphics: 5/5

Visually, developer HexaDrive knew how to push the PSP beyond it’s limits.  The CG cutscenes are beautiful and the in-game graphics engine is very impressive.  The game runs perfectly, never dropping below 30 FPS, no matter how intense the game gets (which is often).  Animations were top-notch as well, whether it was seeing all of Aya’s movements in action or noticing every “twisted” creature’s creepy motions.  Another great detail is the fact that Aya has a real-time damage system that is very noticeable.  The more damage she takes, the more her clothes rip off (think Mortal Kombat’s damage system).  The game’s draw distance is spectacular (especially given the fact it’s on a handheld device) where you’ll be able to see every little detail through the distance with no “fog” effect.  There was a point where I forgot I was playing a PSP game and thought to myself how this easily could’ve been a console title.  Kudos HexaDrive!

Sound: 4/5

Yoko Shimomura returns again from her previous work on the first Parasite Eve title to help score the soundtrack.  The soundtrack is among one of the best soundtracks for any game this year, from the opening intro, to the intense battle themes, to the remixed songs from “Parasite Eve” (which was very cool to hear for nostalgia purposes), this is one soundtrack to plug your headphones into and crank up your volume to the max.  The sound effects are great and weapons sound effective to the point where you know they’re doing damage.  However, the only thing preventing the sound from being perfect is the voice acting.  Yvonne Strahovski, known for her role as Sarah in the TV show “Chuck” and Miranda in “Mass Effect 2”, voices Aya Brea and does a pretty good job playing the role…that is when she’s not constantly whimpering since a chunk of her script is literally doing that.  Jensen Ackles, known for his role as Dean Winchester in the TV show “Supernatural”, also provides voice over work that’s well done.  The other characters that are voice acted however are a mixed bag as they range from “decent” to “poor”.

 

Overall Score: 17/20 = 8.5/10

The 3rd Birthday is an excellent example that demonstrates how a developer can push the PSP past it’s limits.  The visuals are remarkable, the soundtrack is an experience in itself and the gameplay is intensely fast-paced.  The story could’ve used a bit more work but it’s more than serviceable.  It may have taken 11 years, but the latest entry in the Parasite Eve saga has finally arrived and while it’s not officially “Parasite Eve 3”, here’s hoping this is the start to getting that released in the near future.

 

PROs:

+Breathtaking Visuals

+Outstanding Soundtrack

+Intense, Fast-Paced Gameplay

+Lots of replay value

 

CONs:

-Story is a bit convoluted without reading all the in-between mission files

-Camera control can be slightly jarring in mid-battle

-“Over Energy” DNA Upgrade system is a bit confusing to grasp