I Am Alive
|I Am Alive|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 2|
|Platform(s)||Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows|
|Release||Xbox Live Arcade|
March 7, 2012
September 6, 2012
I Am Alive is a survival video game developed by Ubisoft Shanghai and published by Ubisoft. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting and focuses on facing the permanent insecurity of a dystopian, decaying and hazardous world, and humanity's darkest inclinations towards brutality and materialism. Originally under development by Darkworks from 2003 until 2008, Ubisoft Shanghai completed the title. It was released for Xbox 360 on March 7, 2012, for PlayStation 3 on April 3, 2012 in North America and April 4, 2012 in the PAL region and also for Microsoft Windows on September 6, 2012.
The game takes place one year after America has gone through a massive disaster known simply as "The Event", which included earthquakes that destroyed most cities. Due to the damage of the aftermath, many people are forced to go without resources. The government tries to help citizens, but their attempts are useless. Supplies become low and this causes citizens to become agitated, violent and bitter.
An unnamed male survivor travels to his old home of the fictional city of Haventon, to rescue his wife Julie and daughter Mary. When he gets to his apartment, he finds they have left to get to safety and meanwhile video tapes his apology for not being there and says that he will do everything to find them. As he is leaving, the protagonist sees a small girl who he mistakes for his daughter and saves her from three hostile men. The girl, Mei (Angela Galuppo), is missing her mother and gives the protagonist a walkie-talkie with which he talks to Henry (Elias Toufexis), a friend of Mei. Henry asks him to bring Mei to him and he agrees. The protagonist and Mei travel out to Henry's apartment, but soon stop in a dilapidated mall to rest during a dust storm. The protagonist notices that Mei has a fever, so he goes to find a supply drop that the government landed for survivors and is able to recover medicine for Mei. The two leave the next day and arrive at Henry's place, where the protagonist finds out that Henry is disabled and cannot walk. The protagonist is then tasked of finding a radio for Henry and traverses through the deadly dust clouds and makes it to an old boat. After searching the boat and finding the radio, the protagonist makes it off and travels back to Henry.
The protagonist makes it back and Henry thanks him and finally trusts him as a friend. Henry also suspects that Mei's mother might be in a local hotel and pressures the protagonist into finding her for Mei. He gets to the hotel and fights through a large number of killers who have kidnapped, intimidated and hurt women to pressure them into performing sexual acts on the men. The protagonist finds Mei's mother, Linda (Jean Nicolai), and rescues her from the men. They both get back to Henry's place and Mei reunites with her mother. Linda is able to use the radio to get messages from a boat coming to Haventon to pick up survivors. This seems as their way out but they soon learn that the boat is not coming to shore because of the dust. Henry makes the plan of creating a beacon to bring in the boat by using fireworks. The protagonist takes some of Henry's fireworks and sets them off on a nearby rooftop, successfully making a beacon for the boat. Just after they set it up though, hunters attack and the protagonist is forced to fight them off but Henry is nowhere to be found after. The protagonist learns from helping an injured man that Henry was taken by the hunters, who they were hunting for, due to his knowledge of where the camps holding survivors are. Finally, the beacon attracts the boat and it arrives at the dock just in time.
In the end, Mei and Linda go aboard the boat but the protagonist decides to stay, hoping to find Henry and his family. Mei and Linda bid him farewell and he records his last tape and says that he will find Julie and Mary and try to rescue Henry, before it is shown that a woman, presumably Julie, or his daughter Mary several years later, has been watching all his videos and currently has all his gear. She cries after the video ends and it is left on a cliffhanger whether or not Henry - or the protagonist - survived.
The player controls the main character from a third person perspective during navigation, the camera switches to first-person when aiming and shooting. During encounters with hostile survivors, the player can use various tactics to stay alive, including sneaking to surprise enemies with a machete quick kill, performing stealth kills with a bow, or using bluff and intimidation e.g. pointing an empty gun at hostile non-player characters.
The game has an emphasis on climbing and exploration. The player will scale wrecked buildings and navigate hazardous areas. Every effort has a cost and, when engaging in physically demanding activities, such as climbing or jumping, it is critical to manage the main character's stamina for him to survive. By managing stamina skillfully players are rewarded by accessing hidden paths, resources and other survivors.
Gameplay also involves collecting hidden resources and supplies scattered throughout the city: water, food, batteries, gas, medicine, cigarettes, tools, climbing gear, weapons, and ammunition. Anything that the player can salvage from the destroyed city can be used to keep the main characters strong and healthy, or prove helpful in his quest by allowing him to rescue survivors. Retries can be collected throughout the game by helping or rescuing people, with optional side quests to complete.
The game began development in 2003. The game was first rumored to be in development in July 2008, when it was known that Assassin's Creed producer Jade Raymond was working on a new game, which was announced at E3 2008, along with a trailer. It was later revealed that Raymond was not working on the game. Development experienced various delays. The original developers, Darkworks, announced that it would not be working on it any longer due to a "mutual decision" and that the studio had other obligations, and that the game would be finished at Ubisoft Shanghai's studio. On August 2009, various screenshots of an old build of the game were leaked onto the Internet. An announcement from Ubisoft indicated a release window between Q2 April 2010– Q2 March 2011. These dates passed with no new information, until June 2011 when a notification was published at the Australian classification website which indicated a possible release in the late summer of 2011.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said at the start of 2010 that the studio was "totally re-engineering the product". In May 2011, Ubisoft cancelled a number of games, but it was revealed that I Am Alive and another Ubisoft title Beyond Good and Evil 2 were not among them, with Ubisoft stating that the cancelled games were unannounced games. On September 29, 2011, a new announcement trailer was released for the game with a release date of "this winter" at the end. On January 23, 2012, the developers announced on Facebook that the game would be available for Xbox 360 on March 7, 2012. On August 23, 2012, Ubisoft announced the PC version, which had been previously cancelled.
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The PlayStation 3 version of I Am Alive received "generally favorable reviews", while the PC and Xbox 360 versions received "average" reviews, according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.
GameSpot said of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, "The few unrealistic elements are a stark contrast to the engrossing world and only lessen the experience." Eurogamer said of the Xbox 360 version, "What I Am Alive lacks in originality, though, it makes up for in execution", praising the tone and gameplay. Edge gave the same console version seven out of ten, saying that it "offers a journey worth charting, one of physics, social decline and welcome terror in a market overrun by zombies." Several reviews praised the survival aspects of said console version, commenting on the scarcity of resources and oppressive atmosphere. Conversely, IGN's review cited the same console version's outdated graphics and poor gameplay elements.
The Guardian gave the Xbox 360 version all five stars, saying that it "uses its post-apocalyptic environment far more effectively than many other games that share its nightmare vision of the future. I Am Alive joins games such as Fallout, RAGE and Left 4 Dead in its setting where a some horrendous event put paid to civilisation as we know it, but in truth, it's far closer in its atmosphere and aesthetic values to Cormac MacCarthy's grim post-apocalyptic novel, The Road." Digital Spy gave it four stars out of five, saying, "If I Am Alive were to be described in a single word, that word would be bleak. It is unapologetic in its presentation and unafraid to cross lines that most games never dare to approach. Those crossed lines are certainly through its subject matter, but also in its gameplay through the possibility of causing permanent damage to your stamina bar. It all comes together to make I Am Alive an uncompromising game of survival, quite unlike anything else on the Xbox 360." Metro gave it seven out of ten, calling it "One of the most successfully depressing survival games ever made, and a fascinating portrayal of an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances."
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