Christmas Eve, 2012. The Statue of Liberty lies in ruins. The streets of New York City are overrun with grotesque monsters called the Twisted.
And so the stage is set for the return of PlayStation One heroine, Aya Brea. Star of the Parasite Eve series, Aya is no stranger to defending New York from genetically mutated monsters, having already saved the Big Apple twice before.
But this time, things are different. Aya has lost her memory, but gained a rather extraordinary ability. Known as the Overdive System, Aya can use her soul to take over the body of another person.
As if this wasn't weird enough, she can send this back in time. A useful party trick, as she can head back in time to key points during the war against the Twisted, and stop the invasion from ever happening.
In game, the Overdive ability is a powerful tactic. Being able to instantly zip between the bodies of soldiers and civilians means that you can easily pull yourself out of range of enemy attacks, and find height advantages, or better guns.
Also, if you time it perfectly, you can 'dive' into the body of a dying monster, performing an instant kill.
Tricks like this are key to winning The 3rd Birthday's tough firefights, and also bring a unique feel to what would otherwise be a rather standard third-person shooter.
It's a testament to Square Enix's dev team that The 3rd Birthday looks and feels like a fully-fledged PS3 title; levels are intricately designed, the shooting feels satisfyingly punchy, and the graphics are absolutely stunning.
You'll be drawn right into the action, and the Overdive system works so fluidly, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Welcome back, Aya. We've missed you.
Order GamesMaster magazine here and have it delivered straight to your door.