STAFF REVIEW of I Am Alive (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Friday, March 16, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

I Am Alive Box art Hello... Hello, is anyone there??.... I'm in need of your help! Oh thank God you've come... Please, I need to get this information out there! There's a lot of new information about a new game from Ubisoft called I AM ALIVE, and XboxAddict has gathered a wealth of intelligence that could quite possibly save the rest of mankind! I would deliver this knowledge myself but after that last earthquake my leg is broken and I can't move. I was on my way to my daughter's birthday at the stadium shelter when the quake hit and sent this metal I-beam down on my leg. Please, you're my only hope.... I need you to take this information and make sure that others are prepared for survival, and if you should make your way and encounter my wife and daughter, tell them that daddy will always love them. Please you must hurry; our survival now is in your hands.... Thank you....

(Turns the playback button on the video recorder and notices someone sitting behind a desk with a file in his hands reading out loud)

If you are watching this video, then "The Event" has happened and you are one of the few survivors of mankind. We don't know if there is a way to bring back mankind but if you are in possession of this video recorder than there is still a hope for salvation. Ubisoft is a company known for making great platforming and adventure retail games, now they have turned their sights to a new release to the Xbox Live Arcade called I AM ALIVE. In a world after "The Event", mankind's survival stands upon a knife point where the balance between salvation and ruin is always volatile and ever changing. Mankind is forced into scavenging for their future and through your efforts you decide the outcome of human existence.

Your quest will take you through city streets, subways, run down and destroyed buildings and more as you traverse the dangers and fight for survival. When we talk about survival, take note because this game is a challenge and a half. I AM ALIVE boasts two difficulty challenges: Normal and Survival which should be renamed: Good f***ing luck and God be with you. The reason this is so challenging is that in normal mode you have a very small number of retries before you have to start over from the last chapter save. You can gain more retries by helping other survivors or by searching and exploring every inch of the city. In survival mode, you have no retries and should you die, then you're reverted back to the last chapter save. Make no mistake, I AM ALIVE will definitely be a challenge.

Your own survival rests in the proper use of your stamina bar. The reason we mention this is because almost every action you do in I AM ALIVE uses some stamina. Actions such as running drain a little stamina every second, but if you repeatedly strike the run button, your stamina will drop very, very rapidly. Climbing also takes a little stamina every second; however, if you have to jump while climbing then expect your stamina bar to take a big hit. Due to this overwhelming focus on your stamina, your character will be forced to find whatever they can to stay alive. Items such as water bottles, cans of soda, canned fruit and more will replenish your stamina and using rare items such as a riposte will grant you an instant stamina refill. Should you be brave and decide to chance it all and not refill your stamina, you run the risk of losing health and if you are climbing and you lose your stamina completely you have a last ditch effort to make it to safety, failure to do so results in instant death. Consider this your warning.

The challenges you will face in I AM ALIVE are not just in managing your stamina and the environment, but in facing life and death situations. Confrontation with other survivors is inevitable; however, not all survivors will be hostile. There will be some that require your aid, there will be some that are just trying to survive, and there are those who try to bully their way into power. Resources are scarce after "The Event" and while scavenging for items for stamina and health are important, finding ammo for your empty pistol is just as critical. While some confrontation can be avoided, those with bullets in their gun become the ones with power. They will bully you and push you around but with the quick press of your machete you can instantly drop the attacker, but even this choice comes at a price. Normally you will find these bullies with bullets accompanied by other followers who will try to avenge their fallen assailant and this is where fear comes into play. Even though you may not have ammo in your weapon, the others don't know that so if you use your empty gun properly you can actually persuade lower level enemies to back up and leave you alone, but try it too often and they'll test you.

One of the core features of I AM ALIVE is the climbing and platforming. You will scale buildings, pipes, ladders, and more as you traverse the ruined city of Haventon. There is a slight issue with this as the controls for climbing feel very sluggish and not crisp and clean like you would find in some Assassin games. This can be frustrating when you are trying to climb your way up a side of a building or trying to escape the dense cloud of lethal dust that plagues the street levels of the city. As you make these massive climbs you will notice that I AM ALIVE looks absolutely beautiful, well beautiful for a post-apocalyptic era city. This game without question gives off a Fallout vibe in terms of graphics and the scenery, and the these high-rise buildings looks incredible when you scale them. All of this gets wrapped together in a realistic sounding environment. Pipes creak and break, rocks give way, and the human voice interaction with the characters is done very well. There is nothing that feels over the top and everything from the graphics to sound fit and feel like they should which makes the atmosphere of I AM ALIVE seem more surreal.

Originally conceived in 2008, I AM ALIVE has undergone major redevelopments over the years and a lot of gamers were wondering if this game would ever see the light of day. Well as the saying goes: "Good things come to those who wait" and I AM LIVE is a shining example of this. If you like a challenging post-apocalyptic platforming adventure game, then line up your 1200 MS points because this game is worth every penny. Will you overcome the trials and obstacles in your path or will you succumb to the death and despair of the aftermath of "The Event", the choice is yours, but remember that amidst the ashes and rubble that I AM ALIVE.

(End video playback....)

Overall: 8.7 / 10
Gameplay: 8.3 / 10
Visuals: 9.2 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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