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Survivor: The Interactive Game

Score: 30%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Infogrames
Developer: Magic Lantern Playware
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Miscellaneous/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

The 'fun' starts with Survivor: The Interactive Game's graphics. Blocky and blurry, they wouldn't have looked good two years ago and they certainly don't look good now. The terrain is an awful muddled blur that looks like someone anti-aliased a 16x16 texture across a 1024x1024 landscape and hoped that it'd look nice. The four-step animation of the glowing green water is, if anything, more disturbing. The character models are passable, but their animations are extremely stiff, not to mention repetitive; the game environments are dull, repetitive, and have a rather short draw-in distance.

The music is also short and repetitive. The loops that play when the game is loading don't even last the whole loading screen, which is saying something; the music in the various challenges and survival stages barely even count as music. The voice acting scattered throughout the game is decent, but it's not going to knock your socks off, and the rest of the sound effects in the game range from dull to downright insanity-inducing. If I have to hear the stupid lapping water sound again I think I'm going to scream.


Gameplay:

It's definitely a frightening thing when you look forward more to the grainy FMVs that break up the segments of a game than the game itself, but I found myself doing just that with Survivor: The Interactive Game. Quite possibly one of the worst game experiences I've had in a long time, this title only barely fits the 'interactive' moniker it gives itself, and should not be inflicted on anyone but your worst enemies.

Ostensibly, Survivor: The Interactive Game allows you to experience first-hand the grueling challenges that faced the folks in the first two seasons of the show (although the game itself is set solely on the Australian outback). I never saw the show myself, but I know that it has to be orders of magnitude better than what's presented here to have captured the hearts of America like it has. At least, I hope so. The experience of playing Survivor: The Interactive Game is grueling, but for entirely the wrong reasons.

The game is broken up into two major sections. The first, and by far the most mind-numbing, is the survival periods. These last three minutes, and during them you'll be watching your virtual avatar (which you can either create to your personal specifications or simply pick from cast members from the first two seasons) move around and executing whatever actions you told them to do. If they're the water collector, they go to the glowing-green water, dip their little polygonal cup-thing into it, and bring it to the nonpotable water jug. They can then boil water to make it potable. Note that the computer is doing all of this for you; there's nothing that you can do to influence your character's actions here other than watching. During this time, you're supposed to carry on conversations with other people in your tribe; this is done by clicking on them, and going through a series of menu-based conversation lines.

This isn't that bad of an idea, until you see how the conversations are done. They're extremely repetitive, often contradictory, and downright silly. You'll have people say the same things over and over in the same breath, and then run off on some bizarre tangent. It feels like you're talking to a less-evolved version of Eliza, one that doesn't even pretend to make sense.

Once you get past this grueling section of the game, you're brought to the challenge rounds. Here you compete for a useful item or for immunity from the Tribal Council. The challenges are usually pretty inane, ranging from firing arrows from a moving boat to various 'endurance' challenges that require you to balance speed and fatigue (which takes all of two seconds to master). None of them are particularly entertaining, and most of them drag on for entirely too much time, making them even more of a drag. They're still better than the survival sections.

If you find yourself not immune from the Council, you'll be going up to get rid of one of your tribe members. This seems to be fairly random, which is unsurprising.

If you don't want to experience the whole season, you can play shortened games, starting where the tribes combine or when it's down to the final small group. You can also attempt a multiplayer session, although there's no convenient way to arrange games and you're given a massive sixty seconds to decide just what's going to go on in the council. Whee!

The intelligent gamer will just turn the stupid thing off.


Difficulty:

The game itself isn't particularly challenging when it comes to the mini-games, and the survival phases don't even have you doing anything to be challenged by. The relative randomness of the Tribal Council means that any strategy you devise will probably be eliminated by the computer's arbitraryness, making the game more a crapshoot than anything else.

The greatest challenge, therefore, is finding the willpower to keep going.


Game Mechanics:

For the most part, you play the game with the mouse, occasionally using keys on the keyboard to rotate the camera or spin your view or the like. For what it's worth, the controls are simple enough to get used to, and you won't have to consult the instruction book to get the hang of most of the game events. I had the game crash on me a number of times; one of my friends said it was because my computer was revolting from playing Survivor, and I'm not sure if I can prove or disprove that. Load times are a bit longer than I expected them to be, especially for the low-res graphics that they present, but they're not unbearable.

What is unbearable is the game as a whole. Survivor: The Interactive Game is the lowest form of shovelware, put out on the market to satisfy a greedy public without thought of actually making the experience good. If you had the good sense to read this review before you wasted your money on the game, please buy something else. Anything else. Survivor: The Interactive Game doesn't deserve your consideration, your money, or your time. I'll never regain the time spent playing this monstrosity, but you don't have to be subjected to the same torture; you can just walk away. And that's what I recommend.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



Win9x/Me, P2 333/Athlon 333, 64MB RAM, 3D video card w/ 12MB VRAM, sound card
 

Test System:



Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

Windows Summoner Windows Throne of Darkness

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated