Disaster Report


What would you do if disaster struck around you? Embedded journalists from around the globe are facing this question and much more as war rages in Iraq, and here is your chance to become a reporter in the middle of a crisis. “Disaster Report” pioneers a new genre of video games by answering the ultimate “what if” and asks you in turn “what now?” Taking the role as, Keith Helm, a newspaper reporter looking forward to starting at his new dream job, life changes swiftly and unexpectedly when a disastrous earthquake hits Stiver Island. This man-made island—a pinnacle achievement of human ingenuity—falls to ruin and the only thing on your mind now is survival. Every choice you make can either bring you closer to freedom or place you in greater peril, and everywhere you turn you’ll ask yourself, “What now?” So begins your adventure…

Disaster Report comes as a fresh wind to the world of videogames. Many companies focus most of their resources on creating new chapters in past game series or just stick to the core genres that sell well. Disaster report tries something new by working on a new genre: taking the eerie feel of isolation from tasteless horror games, adding the open puzzle feel of the “Tomb Raider” series, and mixing in the creativity of engaging the gamer like never before. Most games have a basic goal laid out for gamers to achieve, but this one is different. Sure the goal may be to survive and get off the island, but hey, you’re a reporter, remember? Why is the island falling apart?

What you do while you’re roaming the island is the key to the game. In 1999, “Run Lola Run”, an innovative film from Germany, swept U.S. audiences by presenting the same adrenaline pumping concept. Like Disaster Report, the movie showed that every choice you make can have a direct effect on yourself and your environment. Movie-goers were presented with several breathtaking endings on how Lola’s dealings with her crisis of replacing stolen mob money affected everything—including her boyfriend and strangers, and with Disaster Report the same idea of making choices rings true with 5 different endings that gamers can achieve.

Graphically, Disaster Report brings the importance of draw distance into play. Many games compensate for the “distance problem” by making every object and/or piece of background that is usually only a short distance away from the camera look foggy, but that can’t work here. If you need to figure out the best place to run to get away from falling debris or if you come to a cross roads, then you’re going to have to be able to see pretty far away. Disaster Report is one of the few games that come to mind which handles this issue very well. When advancing, graphical flares like characters blinking and clothes becoming more tattered as you press on in your quest add to the realism of what’s going on. Later in the game, check out how you appear to grow facial hair as it would be impossible to shave considering you have no time!

Sound actually deepens the realism of your adventure and is a nice break from a continuous soundtrack droning away. The silence of walking alone down a road can be interrupted suddenly by roar of a violent aftershock. Most will feel it all adds to the thriller sense of the game.

Control is great in the game; your character moves smoothly with the analogue thumbstick and the “bracing” move is smart because it stops you from getting knocked off your feet. The "shout" feature you use to get someone’s attention is also a very cool. During the course of gameplay, Keith will encounter other interesting characters and at some points you’ll begin playing a game of “follow the leader”, but like things in real life, it can be a headache getting your friend to keep up, and in this case staying alive.

Disaster Report is a game that hasn’t gotten all the notice but is a great surprise for those gamers always looking for something new and fun. It’s no wonder that the game is getting great buzz from gamers around the ‘net. Using your wits in a life-like situation makes for an “edge-of-your-seat” experience because you don’t know what will happen next and you have to take chances. Your surroundings also shift with every shake, so you’ll have to get inventive with the items you find, while monitoring your health and taking care of your constant need for fresh water. The game is very much a keeper and a sequel (like Keith becomes a war correspondent) may already be in the works. Who knows what doors it will open in the world of videogames, but in the meantime, I got to make sure my emergency supplies are up to snuff with the emergency tip guide in the game manual exclusively in Disaster Report!

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