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I Am Alive, a frustrating journey

Mar 13, 2012

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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I Am Alive'I Am Alive' has everything going for it. It has an involving and oftentimes poignant post-apocalyptic storyline. It has a unique look courtesy of its uncomplicated colour palate and gritty graphics. It has a different style of gameplay that might attract a certain type of gamer. Because of those factors, I really, really wanted to like 'I Am Alive', giving it more time and attention hoping against all hope that eventually something might shine through but in the end, nothing ever did except for a whole heap of disappointment.

After an unexplained "Event" has reduced much of America to rumble, our ragged and worn protagonist has made his way from one side of the country to the other in order to be reunited with his family. He documents his journey with a hand-held video camera and it is that camera which stiches the tenuous plot points together.

As you will find out, this post-apocalyptic world has more in common with 'Mad Max' than 'The Walking Dead'. Bands of bikers, nomads and freaks scratch and claw to survive. As the hero, you don't have much of anything. Ammo and weapons are limited as is anything that can heal or sustain you.

I Am Alive 'I Am Alive' is like 'Drake's Fortune' but without much of the trigger-happy action. Since you come across very little ammo, you must habitually fake out your enemies with an empty gun and then either knock them out or push them off roofs or ledges to their certain doom. While this approach to combat may sound quite novel, like many of the game's unique mechanics, it is just aggravating and eventually quite unsatisfying discouraging players from proceeding on with the story. If you do have ammo and are confronted by a large group of baddies, good luck taking out the prime targets first. The defective targeting system is so clunky, getting a quick bead on your intended victim is nearly impossible.

Ammunition is not the only element that is rationed. So too is your energy. You will spend much of your time climbing, swinging and jumping to objectives. The wrench in the works is you only have limited amounts of energy to do so and when the metre runs dry, as it often does, you will immediately fall to your death. Special climbing pins are scattered through the levels but they usually only get you so far. You will have to die again and again, using the trial and error method, to discover where it is you must go.

I Am Alive It is not only the energy metre though that thwarts your progress; the faulty controls are an obstacle too. Executing simple maneuvers such as sliding down poles or climbing up handholds can be tricky to accomplish, although they shouldn't be.

Instead of being an action star you will quickly become everyone's errand boy fetching medicine, and transporting people to targeted areas while your controller persistently rattles away because you don't have enough energy or health.

There are many good ideas in 'I Am Alive', it is just none of them are carried out very well. It comes off as more of a prototype rather than a full-fledged game which might explain why it is a downloadable title for only 1200 Microsoft Points ($18.60) on Xbox Live.

 

I Am Alive I Am Alive
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Shanghai
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site: http://iamalive-game.ubi.com/iamalive/en-gb/index.aspx
Rating: 4 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.