Friday, 16 January 2009

I Am Alive

It was announced at E3 2008, but it has been silent since then. Finally, we've got details on Ubisoft's upcoming action-earthquake-adventure, I Am Alive. Or should I say survival horror? Because although the game doesn't feature zombies or monsters, the developers say it has people struggling to survive and also "shows how society changes in a natural disaster". Either way, the game sees you playing as Adam Collins, who is trying to survive following an earthquake in Chicago.

Whilst there is still a veil of secrecy surrounding the project, which is unlikely to lift anytime soon, we do know that the game will be played from the first-person perspective, to enchance the players involvement in the disaster and its effects. And although natural and unnatural disasters have been protrayed quite recently in films such as Cloverfield and I Am Legend, and TV shows such as Jericho, the game's senior producer (Jade Raymond has nothing to do with the game, as has been rumoured) Alexis Goddard says that on top of turning daily life on its head, the team is also "changing the very social values and rules that both everyday life and videogames rely on." Now that's one hell of a line to live up to.

Luckily, it appears the game may meet that promise. The team denies I Am Alive is a first-person shooter, and in fact the gameplay itself should dissuade you from this - not least because ammo and health packs are not just lying around unrealistically. “Confrontation is a way of dealing with violent groups, but will rarely be rewarded,”Goddard says. "We encourage the players to use tactics, diversion, and discretion. You've found a police shotgun, which is out of bullets - rightfully so, since Chicago has long been a proponent of a ban on guns. How about some intimidation? After all, who knows the gun is empty but you? Just point it at looters and they'll remain at a distance as you progress toward your objective. However, you can only aim it at one person, so you have to watch for being flanked."

It appears all is not as it seems in the storyline too - whilst it first appears to be a straight up earthquake, there is a pretty much complete absence of any kind of government assistance, which lends itself to more of a conspiracy. Luckily Adam will not be alone in his quest to stay alive in the few days the game spans. He will have to venture out into Chicago to gather supplies and the like, and will meet other characters along the way, some friendly, some not-so-nice. Already unveiled are Riley, Virgil and Peter, who are a young female doctor "intent on saving lives", an African-American former soldier, and a disabled ex-fireman who has set up a refugee camp respectively. Talk about covering all your bases. Jokes aside, each of them will offer advice, help and objectives, and you will end up relying on them to survive. On top of surviving and trying to attract some sort of government attention, Adam has also decided to go find his ex-girlfriend amongst the chaos (Cloverfield much?), which could prove incredibly tricky when even going out to find some water often results in a rabid mob stealing it from you. The team behind the game also suggest that Adam and Alice's relationship may even play out in flashbacks until the game's finale.

When the team revealed inspiration has come from I Am Legend, Lost, Armageddon, Titanic and Cloverfield amongst others, it set itself lofty goals. Luckily, the clever interaction options and secretive story look set to make I Am Alive a hit. The game is currently set for a spring/summer release.


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