PS3 Reviews: I Am Alive Review

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I Am Alive Review

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Graphics:

 

7.9

Gameplay:

 

8.4

Sound:

 

8.6

Control:

 

7.7

Replay Value:

 

8.0

Overall Rating:       8.3

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Ubisoft

Developer:

Ubisoft Shanghai

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action/Adventure

Surprisingly, the long-awaited I Am Alive is a difficult game to accurately analyze. If you go search the available review scores, you’ll see a range of 4.5 to 9 and just about everything in between. After playing, I’ve concluded that the reason is as follows: if you care more about the technical elements, if the occasionally awkward control annoys you, and if the slight lapses of realism become too glaring, you’re going to hate it. But if you become immersed, as I did…well…

As you might expect, there’s a whole lot of grittiness involved in this production. After all, we’re looking at a post-apocalyptic setting, where a city is in rubble and chaos, and everything is dusty, dirty, or downright ugly. Perhaps fittingly, the ugliest things on the screen are often the humans; not because they’re grimy but because they clearly represent how far humanity can fall in a survival situation. Effectively, it proves we’re all animals underneath. The rest of the visual presentation is good, but there are some obvious visual miscues that can be comical.

The sound is key to your overall immersion and enjoyment. The ambient effects are well implemented, which means you’re frequently on edge during your urgent quest to locate your family. Much of the audio is subtle but that makes sense; nothing about this game is in your face, even though the shadow of death may lurk around every corner. To me, the vibe is a little like Silent Hill (only without the grotesque monsters). The music is also downplayed, but the soundtrack is still a decent accompaniment, and the voice acting is excellent.

You have to feel this game. You have to sense the main character’s urgency and in some cases, utter desperation. You have to appreciate the widespread desperation of humanity after a cataclysmic event; nothing is as it once was, and you will quickly learn that civility and other neighborly qualities have long since flown out the window. Resources are scarce and everything is uncertain. Uncertainty leads to rash actions and the possibility of rash – and often violent – actions makes everyone tense and suspicious.

Ubisoft does an admirable job of creating this difficult effect. You find a machete early on and eventually, you’ll get yourself a gun. But these items don’t guarantee survival, especially because the real enemy can be the environment itself. There’s a lot of climbing involved and as you are indeed human, your stamina will drop as you climb. Run out of breath and down you go…fall far enough, and it’s over. The good news is that if you’ve got some food or other recovery items with you, you can select them during a tough climb and replenish some stamina.

That sort of knocked things back a bit for me, just because I didn’t find it all that realistic. The other thing that almost took me out of the experience was the somewhat clunky controls, a touchy subject among critics and gamers alike. It’s not always reliable and responsive and that can be a problem in tricky situations. However, it’s hardly terrible and I think some people are being way too hard on the faults in this mechanic; they’re not bad enough to be frustrating, and they really didn’t hinder my enjoyment that much.

What I especially liked about this game is that Ubisoft really tried. I’m into commending effort these days, even if it falls a little shy on the technical side. What we have here is a world that is both compelling and frightening, as resources are always in short supply (you’ll never have more than a few bullets for your gun), and the strife and struggling is plain as day. Some people have given up and are just going to drown their sorrows, which is sad and depressing; others have teamed up to eliminate anybody in their path…more food and water for them. And that’s scary.

And through it all, you have a father simply trying to find his family. That alone is reason enough to keep pushing forward, and gives the story a more intimate feel. Your visibility is never very good so you’re always worried about what’s just up ahead, and the dynamic created with any individuals you come across is extremely effective. Sure, it’s not entirely 100% realistic, but it’s a step in the right direction, in my opinion. You can threaten people with your machete, raise your hands to get them to let down their guard, etc. In survival, there are constant gambles to take.

This is by far the most interesting part of the game, although it does break down at times. There’s some depth involved, as not everyone is easily intimidated, and those who aren’t can pose a serious problem. Furthermore, as you’re almost always low on ammo, you will likely be bluffing an awful lot, which adds even more tension to an already difficult situation. The gun can cause some weird issues with the AI (like if you put it away, people will rush you, apparently forgetting that you have it), but most confrontations are always intriguing.

I Am Alive is going to incite plenty of discussion. There’s a brutal, harsh overtone throughout that involves some explicit content and things of that nature, but it’s all essential. And as I said before, if you get all anal about the control, the lack of total realism, and some erratic AI, you’re going to be disappointed. But I think adventures like this are all about the experience; they’re about being involved in an almost impossible situation and overcoming significant virtual adversity. Honestly, despite its drawbacks, this is the direction I would hope games take in the future.

The Good: Fantastic, immersive atmosphere. Top-notch voice performances. Appropriately challenging. Encourages survival-related strategy. Various gameplay mechanics work well. Story is decent. Originality is a big plus.

The Bad: Graphics are a little muddy. Control can be wonky at times. Erratic AI. Occasionally frustrating.

The Ugly: “Man, I have nothing…it makes sense but still…”

4/5/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (16 posts)

xenris
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 4:31:30 PM
Reply

Nice review. I've been really interested in this game since I heard about it. I can totally forgive the controls if the atmosphere is as awesome as it looks.

This also makes me excited for The Last of Us.

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TheCanadianGuy
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 5:12:02 PM
Reply

awesome i was playing the demo today and really enjoyed it. the atmosphere is incredible. love the old school survival horror feel it has. definitely getting this one.

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Palpatations911
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 6:50:43 PM
Reply

I as curious if headphones or a fancy sound system is necessary to fully enjoy it?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 8:41:38 PM

They would certainly help, but I wouldn't say they're necessary.

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BikerSaint
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 7:50:40 PM
Reply

Since I couldn't wait for this game, I wound up playing the 360 demo when it came out last month.

I loved the gritty survivalist atmosphere of the game, but hated the graininess of the graphics.

Granted I know it's a post-apocalyptic setting, but I just can't escape the feeling that Ubisoft used that as an excuse to take the easy way out on the looks of this game.
(Especially when the graphical look of original trailer from a couple years back was 197% better in my book).

I also despise the fact that it was changed from it's disc format & into to a D/L only game.

I'll still be getting I am alive, but unfortunately for all those involved in making it, the game will wind up fading into obscurity somewhat faster just because none of us will ever be able to show it off from any of our shelf collections.

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matt99
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 8:07:03 PM
Reply

I played the demo and the game has so much potential, but unfortunately it falls a little short. The biggest thing I hate is the stamina thing when climbing, it doesn't add realism it's just annoying.

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bebestorm
Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 10:01:21 PM
Reply

Good Review as always..I plan on getting this soon

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Russell Burrows
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 2:58:24 AM
Reply

@Ben:
Consumption of high sugar foods will give you a temporary burst of stamina.
Thats usefull when doing a short high intensity climb but a sure death on a longer climb with no ropes when the sugar rush fades.
OR.
A recovery item like pure oxygen helps recover stamina on a long climb.



Last edited by Russell Burrows on 4/6/2012 3:00:11 AM

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___________
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 5:15:09 AM
Reply

this is one of those brilliant concept poorly executed games.
one thing that drives me nuts is if you pull a gun on a enemy they back off then you put it away to do something they instantly forget you have a gun and rush you.
i mean do they really think they can get to me before i raise it back up and blow their brains out?
even worse when theres 1 guy with a gun and several guys without.
because then you have to have reactions like MR flash and wait till one guy without a gun approaches, knife him then in 1 milli second pull your gun out, aim, and shoot the guy with the gun.
i mean sorry MR game but im not MR flash!
i mean how the %$#@ am i suppose to knife a guy, pull my gun out, shoot in the time that all the AI has to do is shoot?

its a real shame that the story is not up to snuff either.
they really could of had a amazing complex story to it, the lost kid you found who resembles your daughter really could of plucked a few heart strings but it really doesnt.
just a missed opportunity that!
its a shame i was really expecting a i am legend style story that had such a amazing story i was really expecting this to be the same!
sadly its not though, its amazing how the game manages to make stricken out of luck sick people on the street so faceless!
you would think a old granny out on the street who really desperately needs a bottle of water for her dying grandchild would really pull a few heartstrings.
but amazingly this game manages to be as emotional as watching paint dry!
as ive said a billion times and will say again i wish developers would stop underestimating the importance of a good story and believable relateable characters!
only reason why everyone loved heavy rain so much is because we cared about the characters.
they were relateable!
same thing with kara.
people were not impressed mainly with the graphics, but with how they managed to turn a robot into a human!
you know its not human, but yet you still feel sorry for it and want it to live!
i wish developers would stop putting story at the bottom end of the priority list it really can elevate games so so much!

thats one thing thats really bugging me the past 2 years.
almost every game that releases is good, but no where near as good as it could of and should of been!
its like 2 steps forward 2 steps back.
KZ3 for instance, changed EVERYTHING i wanted changed from KZ2.
but then it removed some of the best parts of KZ2!
2 steps forward and 2 steps back.
every game released this gen has not really reached as good as it could of or should of been, and sadly i am alive is yet another one of those.
both a good game but could of and should of been oh so much better!
and a good concept poorly executed.

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Lairfan
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 7:11:32 PM

How can you act like you're one of us story-lovers if you complain about Uncharted's story and love Gears of Wars'? Btw, don't pull out the whole "but Uncharted is a blockbuster" argument on me, because that is such BS that I can't stand it. Plus, you complain about every other good story on the face of the earth to boot.

As for your last paragraph, you are once again turning one rant into a completely different one. And btw, most sequels this gen have not been "2 steps forward, 2 steps back" as you claim. You're just so b*tchy about a tiny change that you can't see whether it was positive or negative. And when it was positive (which most of the time changes in sequels are), you b*tch anyways because its "different."

Oh, and I must ask, if you're so whiny about there being no more survival games, why aren't you embracing this game? Judging by your love of games without real stories, I would have figured you would love this game's apparent "lack of story" (not saying it has no story, I haven't played it yet) and focus on gameplay. What a hypocrite you are.

Last edited by Lairfan on 4/6/2012 7:13:24 PM

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Lairfan
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 7:15:03 PM

Alright, I have edited out the two swear words in my original reply so that I don't have to wait for moderator approval for blankey to see this. Anyways, here's the original reply:

How can you act like you're one of us story-lovers if you complain about Uncharted's story and love Gears of Wars'? Btw, don't pull out the whole "but Uncharted is a blockbuster" argument on me, because that is such BS that I can't stand it. Plus, you complain about every other good story on the face of the earth to boot.

As for your last paragraph, you are once again turning one rant into a completely different one. And btw, most sequels this gen have not been "2 steps forward, 2 steps back" as you claim. You're just so b*tchy about a tiny change that you can't see whether it was positive or negative. And when it was positive (which most of the time changes in sequels are), you b*tch anyways because its "different."

Oh, and I must ask, if you're so whiny about there being no more survival games, why aren't you embracing this game? Judging by your love of games without real stories, I would have figured you would love this game's apparent "lack of story" (not saying it has no story, I haven't played it yet) and focus on gameplay. What a hypocrite you are.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, April 06, 2012 @ 8:26:28 PM

Please don't waste your breath.

I've said it before- He's a LUNATIC.

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___________
Saturday, April 07, 2012 @ 11:57:25 AM

where did i say i liked gears story?
ive never liked gears for its story only for its gameplay.
3 had a ok story with marcus father and a slightly more going back to the origins but it was far from a great story.
as for games not being 2 steps forward 2 steps back then how do you explain uncharted 3 being better in every way to uncharted 2 except it removed allot of the big action pieces.
not to mention the kick a$$ boss battles!
well?

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BikerSaint
Saturday, April 07, 2012 @ 1:44:03 AM
Reply

Nahhh, he's no lunatic, he just enjoys b*tch'in about everything under the Sun(and the Sun's probably included).

Therefore, I think he's got more than just a little bit of mild depression....and sadly, probably is that very same way with life in general.

Maybe just reversing the side of bed he normally get's up from might help a bit, LOL

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xenris
Saturday, April 07, 2012 @ 8:15:26 AM

Or if somehow he got a lady friend in said bed :P ....although he would probably complain her hair wasn't the colour he would have liked, and that her figure was lacking.

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berserk
Monday, April 09, 2012 @ 3:12:42 AM
Reply

I think people are forgetting it s 15 $ purchase and a 3d arcade( the version i bought )/psn game .For one i think pretty much every aspect are good/great .I had no expectation so i guess it might have helped my enjoyment tho .

"gun on a enemy they back off then you put it away to do something they instantly forget you have a gun and rush you.
i mean do they really think they can get to me before i raise it back up and blow their brains out?"

Because it s still a better chance ( not by much but still better ) then waiting for him to raise it back up .You can be sure there are people stupid enough out there to try .

Last edited by berserk on 4/9/2012 3:14:51 AM

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