Strategy Session – Parasite Eve

In a blast from the past, I spent some time a little while ago replaying Parasite Eve for our yearly Halloween folderol. This was my first playthrough in years, and a number of things surprised me; the prominent placement of the World Trade Towers, for example, and the fact that 1997 is now more than a decade in the past. My friends, I am old. But this playthrough also reminded me of how much fun the PE combat system is. So this week we’ll be taking a look at some of the weapons Aya can use, and how they’ll affect your strategy in battle.

Perhaps the most popular choice, Rifles sport great range and bullet capacity, allowing players a fair amount of safety for when their ammo finally runs dry. This class of gun also has some of the best attack power available, and although its rate of fire tends to be rather poor, high attack power and good range is a highly effective combination any day of the week. Rifles are a solid choice for most character builds, except perhaps for one that revolves around quick AT recharge time. Since rifles have such a poor rate of fire, Aya’s next turn would come up about the same time she fired the second shot.

Handguns, on the other hand, are my personal favorite. Though their attack power is only average and their range is somewhat underwhelming, handguns offer a fast rate of fire, solid bullet capacity, and, with one specific equip, the possibility of two commands per round. Handguns are a great choice for characters based on high AT speed, though their good spread of abilities make them decent equips for almost any character build. One should avoid trying to increase the number of shots per turn beyond three, though; since a weapon’s attack power is spread out over each of the shots, a handgun with more than three shots per round will do increasingly paltry damage with each attack.

Machine guns, a fairly rare kind of equip, suffer fairly seriously from this problem. Most automatic weapons fire between five and seven shots per turn, but their attack power isn’t really enough to make any one shot particularly powerful. Added to this, machine guns have a rapid-fire ability that randomly targets enemies. This can be great with only a few enemies to deal with or in close quarters, but random targetting makes it impossible to focus your damage output in battles with more than two or three enemies, and can also lead to a lot of missed shots in battles that take place in wide-open areas, as Aya attempts to shoot a foe well outside her attack range. Automatic weapons do sport decent range and attack power, though, and perhaps the fastest rate of fire in the game, meaning the rapid-fire ability of a particularly powerful machine gun may be a good target for removal with a Super Tool. Machine guns can be fun to use, but on the whole, they’re a bit too much novelty to be really effective without a huge investment in time and effort.

Another type of weaponry with unique side effects are the grenade launchers. This class of weapon has great attack range and power, but their real strength lies in the elemental properties all grenade launchers posess. One of the only ways of dealing elemental damage in Parasite Eve, grenade launchers can deal truly impressive amounts of damage, but they also carry some unique problems. Given that a foe’s elemental weakness is never particularly obvious, the player will have to use at least one turn scanning the foe, and then a second switching to a weapon with the proper elemental attribute, at which point a basic handgun would have already outpaced the grenade launcher rather easily. On the whole, grenade launchers can be useful in certain circumstances, particularly during the late game, which is full of powerful but lumbering boss monsters, but they make a fairly poor choice for normal encounters.

Although they don’t get a lot of respect, club weapons can actually form the basis for their own strategy. Generally speaking, clubs exist as a weapon of last resort, in the extremely unlikely event that the player runs out of ammunition. However, the club weapons have very useful secondary effects. Club 3 in particular is impressive, as it is the only way Aya can steal items from her foes. By combining this ability with an inventory expanded with bonus points, Aya essentially becomes a Chemist. With pockets full of medicine and other curative items, Aya can become exceptionally difficult to take down. This strategy can be difficult to use, largely because clubs are so ineffective as offensive weapons. They sport the smallest attack range of any weapon, and their attack speed is slow enough that most enemies can simply walk out of the attack area. All of this makes it a good idea to back this strategy up with a high-powered weapon — a rifle or grenade launcher, for instance — for boss fights and other particularly stubborn foes.

Parasite Eve‘s unusual combat system makes it a fertile ground for creative strategies, and those listed here are just some of the most basic. That’s about it for this particular backwards-looking edition of Strategy Session, and remember, if you have a game you’d like to see featured in this article, just drop me a line in the comments or at cactuarjoe (at)!


  1. Der Jermeister:

    I liked Parasite Eve but really hated how you could die after the final boss. Its sequel, though, is singlehandedly ruined by its godawful movement system.

  2. Michael "CactuarJoe" Beckett:

    I’ve heard the second had serious issues, but never got around to playing it. I may have to, though, now that we’re getting a third entry in the series.

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