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Survivor: Day 1 Preview

Publisher - Konami
Developer - Konami
Platform - N64
Release Date - March 1999
Type - Action

Survivor: Day One, a unique third-person action adventure from Konami, pits players in the role of a "genetically engineered humanoid life-form" on-board a space-ship that has just crash-landed on an alien planet. The object of the game: get out alive. Unfortunately, things aren't quite so simple. Players must also find their female counterpart, who has, very inconveniently, lost herself somewhere within the giant, sinking craft. To make matters worse, the spaceship, acting as an immense intergalactic arc, is flooded with a multitude of different alien races all struggling to stay alive. Not good. So begins Survivor Day One...

You might be wondering what a genetically engineered humanoid life-form wears. The answer, of course, is a half wetsuit. Lucky too, considering the ship is engulfed in water. Equally as fortunate is the player's ability to walk, run, hang, climb, jump, somersault, dive, shoot and swim. Using an arm-mounted gun, the player can fire a wide assortment of energy-based weapons at his foes. In-game control feels a bit like Tomb Raider; the player does not react instantly. Rather, everything transpires via a very sluggish reality.

But the action isn't limited to mindless alien-blasting. There's plenty of good old-fashioned exploration to be had as well. The ship is made up of different bio-spheres, which add a variety of various backdrops, ranging from a rainforest and desert to alpine mountains. Each area employs unique characteristics and challenges the player to utilize different abilities. For example, whereas some parts of the ship call-upon a traditional shoot-and-run formula, others require a bit more strategy, forcing players to climb vines or swim through tunnels to find the correct way out. Not exactly brain surgery, but it does offer a refreshing change to what can otherwise quickly become repetitive.

Additionally, Konami has developed an impressive AI system for the game. For example, enemies, after realizing they have no chance, will run away and/or hide behind objects so that players cannot kill them. It isn't just a routine. Enemies will actually situate themselves behind an object and wait for a player to back off. Supposing player rotate around the object in an attempt to reach an enemy, the enemy will rotate with the player, keeping itself at distance from a possible kill.

Running on a polygonal 3D engine, Survivor Day One brandishes a number of visual "extras" like real-time light-sourcing and soft-skinning for seamless, more realistic characters. Unfortunately the game's framerate, at least judging from the early version we played, still needs a lot of work. Additionally, the game has a muddy look about it, a Nintendo 64-like appearance, that lacks texture detail and makes it easy for players to lose themselves in the ship.

The game's story and gameplay scenario are intriguing, but Survivor Day One needs a lot of tuning if it plans to hold its own against the competition. Despite its visual effects, the title lacks the graphic finesse and strong framerate that other third-person action/shooters have mastered. Hopefully time will make all the difference for this one. Otherwise, Survivor is doomed to go down with the alien ship it's based around.