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Body Harvest is a video game for the Nintendo 64 video game console developed by DMA Design (later renamed Rockstar North after the highly successful Grand Theft Auto III). It was originally intended to be an N64 launch game but was delayed due to its original publisher, Nintendo's issues with the game's adult theme, and eventual dropping of the title, leaving DMA to find a new publisher. It was eventually published by Gremlin Graphics in October 1998. In Body Harvest, players assume the role of a genetically engineered soldier, Adam Drake, who must investigate and eliminate an alien attack force who possesses the ability to travel through time. Possessing this technology himself, Drake must battle in five areas over a 100-year period that covers World War I-era Greecemarker, World War II-era Javamarker, United Statesmarker in the 1960s, Siberiamarker in the 1990s, and the near future. The game is non-linear, players can go anywhere and do anything according to game's boundaries.

Plot

The opening text tells of how an alien force has harvested the population of Earth over a 100 year time period. Every 25 years they would land and imprison whole areas in shields that prevented anyone from leaving and any outside help getting in. The aliens would harvest the population of the area within a time limit of one day before moving on to another area. After repeating this several times they would teleport back to their homeworld, an artificially created comet. Greecemarker was the first targeted area in 1916, southern Spainmarker was second, eastern Canadamarker was third, and the south island of Japanmarker was fourth. In 1941 the first targeted area was Javamarker. In 1966 it was the U.Smarker (presumably somewhere in the southwest in between Nevadamarker and Arizonamarker) and finally in 1991 it was Siberiamarker. The player only has to stop the aliens in the first area that they target in order to save every future targeted area of that time period.

The opening cutscene shows Station Omega, an orbital space station containing Earth's last survivors. The year is 2016 and the aliens have returned to destroy the last remnant of the human race. The aliens attack and board Station Omega, chasing Adam Drake, the game's only playable character, through the corridors. Even though Adam defeats the initial invaders he is wounded in the process. He is ready to board Alpha I, the time traveling vehicle developed at Station Omega, when more aliens appear and try to force their way into the boarding chamber. The monitors show his colleague, Daisy Hernandez, telling Adam to get into the Alpha I without letting the aliens gain access to it. As the aliens force the door open, Adam dives through the air lock and fires a single shot into the control panel; this closes the door and prevents the aliens from pursuing him further. As they escape the station in the Alpha I, they are pursued by Alien fighter craft, but open up a time portal and escape. Meanwhile, back on Station Omega, an Alien is shown holding a drop of Adam's blood and eyes it strangely. This is a subtle hint as to where Adam's arch nemesis, Tomegatherion, is cloned from.

Gameplay

Each level in Body Harvest requires the player to stop the aliens from slaughtering everyone in the shield area. The player will navigate the map, usually coming across towns where aliens will teleport in to attack the town.

Gameplay consists of completing a series of missions. Many of these are very basic, e.g. reach a certain area, but others can be more complicated and require some thought and/or skill. Once one completes a mission they are then prompted to check the map to find out what the next mission is.

There is a meter at the bottom of the screen that represents civilian casualties. If too many civilians die for any reason, the aliens will destroy the area. Mostly, only Harvester aliens will deliberately kill people, so the player must destroy Harvester waves as they progress throughout the level. There are also some optional missions that require saving people from the aliens. Although one can fail these missions and still progress through the game, doing so usually results in significant human casualties.

The use of vehicles is a key aspect of this game. Vehicles are needed to face off with aliens and specific vehicles are often required to complete missions. These vehicles include cars, tanks, boats, planes, helicopters, and even a flying saucer. In addition the Alpha I (the ship the player uses to travel through time) becomes a powerful hovercraft during boss battles and for the entirety of the Comet level.

The goal of each level is to destroy the Shield Generator that creates the shield that surrounds each level. As soon as this occurs the player faces the level's boss.

Reception

The game received consistently positive reviews upon release, receiving an 8.4 from IGN, 88% from NOM (UK), 91% from N64 Magazine, 93% from N64 Pro, and a 7.0 from GameSpot. In general, reviewers praised the game's originality and mixture of gameplay elements, whilst some criticism was leveled towards its graphics and storyline.

References

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