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I Am Alive - Initial Thoughts

So I recently downloaded the long-developed "I Am Alive" a game that has been in development purgatory for several years. The game centres on an nameless - though not voiceless - protagonist who is searching for his family after an enigmatic "Event" brought the World (presumably, the extent of the damage is not clear) to its knees.

I should start off by stating that humanity is a very convincing and frightening villain in apocalyptic scenarios and in this way "I Am Alive" can be seen as more terrifying than any zombie game, as we see a civilization at its most desperate. The palette is incredibly desaturated giving the impression of a parched desert of a world, with ruined architecture all around. The various inhabitants also vary from the sick and weak, to the territorial, to the outright agressive. The passive survivors you can choose to save for an extra life, or leave to perish and keep any health items for yourself; the territorial ones you can either avoid or confront and the agressors always lead to combat.

Considering that you're pretty strapped for supplies, combat is handled in a pretty interesting way. You may often find yourself with no ammo, but you can still bluff your way out of a fight to people who aren't armed with guns themselves (those that are just shoot you, obviously). Some submit there and then and you simply knock them on the bonce while they've surrendered, others you can forced back over a cliff before giving them a final boot to send them off. There are also machete kills; you are able to play defenceless to the first person in a gang who accosts you and then slit their throat when they're in range. You can also perform struggle kills which should only be done on the last member of a group or others will interrupt and, most likely, kill you. These mechanics do a good job of presenting combat as a desperate last ditch effort, rather than the beautifully choreographed fighting of a skills martial artist. It's grim, dirty, and violent, but often unavoidable.

Being that much of the city is in ruins, your main method of transportation is through climbing, made all the more perilous through a stamina bar. Ever moment spent climbing your bar decreases, creating an added tension that is quite welcome in a game that already feels incredibly desperate and hopeless. Each platforming challenge is a puzzle to be solved, you have to think critically about where you'll have a chance to rest, either through a handy ledge or by using a piton (these are limited too naturally). If things get really tight you can use a stamina item, but you'll always be thinking about whether you might need it more later on. If it does fully run out, the actual length of your potential stamina decreases while you hurridly hammer RT to even continue climbing, and if that runs out, you're a goner. All of this is made even more intense by an organic soundtrack which gradually raises the volume and intensity of the score the closer your stamina gets to depletion. While this is a bit over the top when you're merely running on perfectly safe ground, it really causes you to sweat if you're in the middle of an already exhausting climb.

So far "I Am Alive" has been an exhilarating, thought-provoking experience, well-realised and enjoyable to play, I can only hope the quality remains consistent throughout.


Virtual Sight-seeing

One of the things I love most about 'Red Dead Redemption' is how enjoyable it is just to take part in the game's natural ecosystem. Just going about your daily life as a cowboy in the game is often rewarding in and of itself, simply because of the level of immersion possible.

I think the main reason, though, is the environments. Sometimes I will boot up RDR just to ride around and look at some of the scenery, because it is so gorgeous, especially places like Escalera. Most sand box games make the arduous task of travelling to missions fun by having the method of travel be fun (Gliding in Arkham City, web swinging in Spider-man games, parkour in Prototype and Crackdown), but in RDR it's the environment around you and what can happen along the way that makes it fun. You might start off on the way to a mission, but get side-tracked helping a man save his wife or stopping to grab some herbs.

This is basically why I think RDR is the greatest sandbox game ever, the sheer volume of stuff to do is incredible and it's all incorporated so well that it really feels like a living, breathing world that you can take part in. On top of that, the main story is fantastic, with a diverse cast of characters along with a protagonist who is basically whatever you make him, with no penalty or bonus for being good or bad (besides bounties, though pardon letters can clear those in the blink of an eye), making RDR also perhaps one of the best role-playing games in the truest sense of the phrase.

Writer's Block: Ties That Bind

How many friends do you have?

Interesting question. Facebook says I have 123, but many are acquaintances or people I knew at school but don't tak to now. Going through the list I've counted around 26, of which I'd probably only consider a very small handful to be close friends, between 8 and 10.
Some of you may have already seen this video doing the rounds, but if not please take a look and spread the word. This is one of the few times where simply spreading awareness alone can potentially make a difference

Peace Walker score

I just had to share this track because it is fucking immense from about 1.00 onwards

Stolen from kuro_kaitou

I'm running a test to see who's reading my posts. So, if you read this, leave me a one-word comment about your day that starts with the third letter of your LJ USERNAME. Only one word please. Then repost so I can leave a word for you. Don't just post a word and not copy - that's not as much fun.

Writer's Block: ONTD Games Giveaway

Which video game character would you like to have as your real-life BFF? One random response will win a $60 Amazon gift card! [Full contest rules here.] Don't forget to share your favorite gamer moments on at 3 p.m. PST for Free For All Friday (FFAF).
Interesting question. I'm not sure any of the characters that I like I would like having as my friend, which is an interesting dichotomy :P A lot of the characters I really like tend to be severly flawed or otherwise not especially nice. I know if I were to pick "gaming father" it'd be Sam Fisher or John Marston, but that's not the question. I guess the title is probably the best answer, I'd pick my starter pokémon, they're one of the few characters that you share that kind of "it's you and me" bond with, although actually now that I think on it, Frank West would also be a pretty cool guy to hang out with.

Language of the internets

I sometimes wish the word "suck" had never been invented. Internet morons seem to think that the use of it means they need give no qualifying statement or reasoning for why they think something "SUCKS" (yes, usually in block capitals).

Writer's Block: The Walking Dead

In case of an impending zombie apocalypse, what would be your weapon of choice, and why?
To be honest, suicide's the only option in a zombie apocalypse. In reality, the spread would occur far too easily unless the localised outbreak was IMMEDIATELY dealt with, but even then it's unlikely.

The ease of infection vs. difficulty of dispatching means that even if a cure could be found (and let's face it, it would be a vaccine for those recently infected or to prevent infection, not some magic, turn zombies back into people cure, that just doesn't happen, since you'd be curing death essentially), then there's still thousands of zombies etc populating the world and while we may not become a zombie from a bite, we'll still face a horrible death at their hands or slowly starve to death by ekeing out a miserable existence.

Zombie apocalypses are only cool in fiction, in reality it would be just hellish. I mean heck, not even zombies, look at the Road. That's a depressing look at an apocalypse scenario and no mistake.


It's funny that we sometimes avoid hassle with a different form of hassle.

For instance I couldn't be arsed to take out all the paper and replace it with a handful of scrap just for one print job, so I manually counted out 8 pages and slotted them in the front, even though this arguably took longer than the first option would have.

I guess it's the kind of hassle we're talking about, for instance, I would rather walk home than wait half an hour for a bus on occassion, even though it will take me about an hour and 15 minutes to make it home, when the bus would take less than an hour including the waiting time, because I can't be bothered to stand around waiting.

If anyone would like to assuage me from the belief that I may be mad in this behaviour please share and you have below.

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March 2012



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