I Am Alive
Reviewed by Adam Hill
Okay, so I have been looking forward to this game since it was first announced at E3 back in 2008 (Not even the recent announcement that it would only be released for download on the Xbox marketplace could stifle my, undying, gleeful-anticipation for the game).
Now that it’s here and the only thing that I can equate to the disappointment of playing it for the first time was losing my virginity… All that expectation for something that was extremely unsatisfying. However, I felt to make that comparison I needed to give the game another couple of tries. After all, sex got much better so why would the game be any different… perhaps someday I can play the game for 15 minutes straight (20 with one of those strips)!
Unfortunately, the game never gets any better.
You think that was bad? I was playing this game...
‘I am Alive’, in theory should be a great game. The prospect of am “end-of-days” storyline following an apocalyptic event that does not include zombies, mutants or supercharged human’s is great! An idea that could keep this misguided fool exited for 4 years! This game had the potential to take survival-horror gaming to a new level.
The story of one mans search to reunite with his family hooks you in but the gameplay is incredibly monotonous. Basically the game is just a climbing simulator. Making it even worse, the climbing doesn’t make sense. It would make a lot more sense to be able to climbing through rubble rather than scale the sides of buildings. Why is it that a man can climb what is essentially a flat surface for 10 stories but cannot hop over some piles of rubble?
Aesthetically the game was close to what I was hoping for: A gloomy, depressing, more realistic interpretation of what the world would look like after a catastrophic event. However, I am a bit worried that the dust in the air blinding your view was not developed to strengthen the game but instead to obscure a terribly underdeveloped landscape.
The game does not deliver on anything that the idea promised. In fact, for a game that proclaims to be “more realistic” there is a lot that doesn’t make sense:
- Magical pitons which when anchored into the side of a twenty story building instantly recovers all fatigue from climbing the initial ten stories preventing you from plummeting to your death. A good thing for gaming but hardly something you could count on in real life.
- Rat meat – Now you might think with the reputation that we have bestowed on rat’s this meat would be horribly diseased and should be used as a weapon to secretly poison your foes. But instead in the world of “I am Alive’ it is remarkably nutritious.
Get that man some rat-meat, stat!
- Enemy stupidity – Okay, so people would be hungry and slightly irrational in this situation so I am not surprised by all of the mistrust in the game. What really annoys me however is the fact that enemies seemingly forget their surroundings while you’re pointing a gun at them, while being able to forget that the gun even existed the moment you lower it. Perhaps they think it was a mirage? I personally would have liked to see some sort of bargaining option rather than having to kill everyone who turns on you.
- Gun ammo – I understand that ‘in a world gone mad’ ammo would be a precious commodity but I don’t understand how enemies can continuously shoot bullet after bullet at you without running out of ammo but when you collect the ammo from their gun there is only 1 bullet! Also, why is it that you are quite often bluffing with no ammo in your gun but everyone else in existence has salvaged enough supply? Surely someone else has run out.
- The climbing – I have already made this point. I just needed to remind everyone how ridiculous it is. Why would the Special Forces drop medical supplies on top of destroyed buildings? Was it so that only the truly athletic people who were fit and health enough to scale buildings could get to the medical supplies that the obviously did not require while the sick and hungry barely had the energy to look up?
The combat is clunky and does not give you any real control. Your involvement is simply to choose point gun, shoot gun, or block-with-machete-then-sever (a single button combo!). This lack of control makes it impossible to think on the go and forces you to employ a frustrating learn through death strategy to get through the harder parts of the game.
Maybe I expected too much for it to be completely realistic (or even slightly realistic). But that is what the developers promised!
Perhaps not being able to deliver on what the game promises is the reason that it took so many years and stumbled so many times throughout its development.
“I Am Alive” delivers a collection of half-baked ideas and concepts that could've been a truly refreshing. But in the end, the game ironically seems rushed and I may never look forward to anything again!