If you watch any of the trailers for I Am Alive, it looks like a pretty sweet game. This is a classic example of how cool trailers can be made for really crappy games. Ubisoft released I am Alive in 2012 for PC after a couple bad start releases on the Xbox arcade and PS3 network as a download. It is a survival/first person shooter type game that focuses more on survival than shooting. The idea behind the game is fine, if a little tired, but the gameplay is where it goes wrong.
You play as a nameless guy in a post apocalyptic world one year after ‘the event’ which had earthquakes and dust storms demolish all the major cities. In that year, you have crossed the entire country on foot to make it back to your hometown to search for your family. This is where the game starts. There is a lot of climbing around broken buildings and bridges and such, and one cool part about the game is the stamina bar that limits how long you can climb. Think Prince of Persia with a sense of limitation. Now, this seems pretty legit at first, because you can’t just climb all over the place like Spiderman and never get tired. If you are on a ledge 50 feet up and your stamina runs out, you fall to your death. The downside is that the mechanics of climbing are so broken that you might spend 30 seconds on a drainpipe trying to turn left onto a ledge before you actually go in that direction. Then take into consideration that you literally can NOT fall off any edge unless you are climbing, and the realism factor takes a serious dive.
Let’s talk about movement a minute here. We already know that climbing is whack, how about walking? Well, walking is very slow, jogging drains your stamina at a stupid rate, and god forbid you try to turn your head at anything other than a slow walk, because the graphics get all choppy and the XY mouse axis gets confused so you end up trying for way too long to look slightly to your left, and then end up doing a full 360. I tried every possible graphics setting to fix this horrible movement issue and it never got any better. How about the action, you say? Since this game is all about ‘realistic survival’ your weapons include a knife, a gun, and maybe 1 or 2 bullets at any given time. So when a gang of 3 people come up to start trouble, you have to hide the gun, wait for one to get close and kill him with the knife, and THEN whip the gun out and try to bluff the other guys into thinking you have more bullets than you actually do. You can hold them off with an empty gun, even, and force them to the edge of a building and kick them off. While this is actually pretty awesome, it’s also the ONLY way to win a fight against multiple enemies, so by the time you do it a couple times, you are bored of the formula. Stab, point, threaten, kick…over and over again. What started out as a pretty innovative way to deal with enemies realistically is now boring and predictable.
About the only good thing about this game is the acting. It has a good storyline, good voice acting, and juuuust enough side mission people to save to give it 1 star. You can play through the entire game in about 5 hours, max, and then kick yourself for wasting an afternoon. I got this game for 2.99 on Steam, but I still feel like I wasted 3 dollars. Do yourself a favor and buy a scoop of ice cream or something instead, you’ll get way more enjoyment out of it.