previews\ Dec 16, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Disaster Report - PS2 - Preview

Disaster Report is a different kind of survival game.  Not unlike a survival/horror game, Disaster Report takes place in a giant city, but zombies are nowhere to be found.  There are no horrific elements whatsoever.  And you don't have any enemies to battle, except for Mother Nature.  There is, however, the element of terror.  Terror that you're going to spend the last few moments of your life trapped in a demolished city.  Terror that a car is going to fall off a ledge and squash you like a bug.  Terror that the weak piece of concrete that you're standing on will break away and fall into the water more than a hundred feet below.  In Disaster Report, your only real objective is to make it out alive.


This is accomplished through severe avoidance.  The whole city appears to be one gigantic obstacle course, one that's filled with enough booby-traps to fool even the most cautious players.  When cracks appear in the pavement below, or when dust is being shot from the platform above, something bad is going to happen.  Sometimes bad situations are inevitable (this game is called Disaster Report, after all).


Early on in the game you'll find a key under a pot (Resident Evil-ish, no?) that unlocks the doors to an abandoned restaurant.  Inside the restaurant you'll find some health items (empty water bottles, which can be filled with fresh water whenever you find a sink or a fountain).  Eventually you must make your way through the back of the building and that's when things get tricky.  As you move closer to the exit, the floor begins to cave!  It caves in more suddenly than any prior to this point in the game, putting an end to anyone foolish enough to run along the unstable area.  Since the floor turns on its side as it begins to cave, the only option to is to carefully walk around the damaged area and hope you don't fall.  It wasn't that difficult to conquer after dying the first time (thus the game revealed the location of every crack in the floor/bridge), but it was a tad startling, and exciting to see the effects of what happens when a person walks into a building that's about to collapse.  Certainly the character in the game doesn't know what's going to happen, and as a player seeing it for the first time, you don't either.


That is the essence of the game -- shocking, startling scenarios that one would not expect to occur.  Shortly after surviving the restaurant, you'll be faced with an even more challenging puzzle: save a damsel in distress.  She's trapped in a broken subway car, which is hanging over the ledge of the broken bridge!  It sways back and forth, increasing the possibility for failure.  If you go to the end of the subway car and attempt to grab the woman's hand, the weight of the car will shift too fast, pushing it off the edge.  Game Over.  Here the only solution is to use a rope, which is located near the subway, but it's a littler trickier than you'd expect.


These startling moments are enhanced by the game's brief use of cinematic animation effects and a few decent camera angles.  When not in a special situation, the camera sticks to a standard behind-the-character view.  It's a little awkward to use, especially when it moves above the character's head (which it does fairly often).  This may be fixed in the final version though, so it's not too much of a concern at this time.


It's hard to tell exactly how the gameplay will turn out, but at this point it appears to be coming along very nicely.  Not only is the concept unique, but the gameplay is as well.  The controls are very basic (walk, run, jump, etc.), but the destructive city adds depth to this game's simplicity.  Never before has a player had to wander through an area so carefully because he was worried about being trampled by pieces of a falling building.


I honestly didn't know what to expect from Disaster Report, and you know what?  I'm glad.  It's really nice to be able to play a new kind of game, especially one as Japanese-y as this one.  The lack of monsters to shoot may turn off some gamers, but I am looking forward to playing through the final version of this unique and original title.

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