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Publisher: MacSoft    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: G3 @ 350 MHz    RAM: 64 MB

Survivor: The Interactive Game
March 13, 2002 | Christopher Paretti

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Remember the good old days when the only tropical entertainment we needed on television was Gilligan’s Island? While the days of coconut radios are gone, small island drama was reborn on the popular CBS series Survivor. Millions tuned in to watch half naked men and women shipped to a remote location to compete for big money. The people at MacSoft allow us all the opportunity to become these castaways looking to outwit, outplay and outlast in Survivor: The Interactive Game.

As you begin you get to pick any of the cast members from the first two seasons as your player, or create a character of your own. Each character has strengths and weaknesses, but only strength is really noticeable during game play. It might have been nice to be able to pick a luxury item as in the series. The bulk of Survivor sticks pretty closely to the formula created on the television show. Each game “episode” consists of 2 survival periods, 2 challenges, and the Tribal Council where the infamous kick votes are cast.

The survival times consist of quickly choosing a task, such as fishing or fire tending, and watching your character romp around the campsite for 3 minutes. Instantly this becomes the most tedious part of the game. Obviously designed to add the element of alliances and betrayal to the game, it merely becomes confusing and ultimately annoying. Conversations with teammates become virtual gibberish, making you scream for an inflatable raft and a strong motor.

The immunity and reward challenges are by far the most engaging part of the game. However, even these mini-games are disappointing mainly due to length and sloppy controls. Many challenges feel like you are fighting for control more than completing an event. A canoe archery game in which you shoot targets as you float down a river, suffers from odd mouse tracking, and a limited range of movement. You will also find your character pushing logs, rocks, and other heavy items up various hills. These actions are all controlled by and faster and slower arrows that you maintain while monitoring your players fatigue. While rather painless, the pushing challenges can often take 10 minutes or more, killing any feigning interest.

Once you lose an immunity challenge you go straight to Tribal Counsel. If you spent time talking to your mates during the survival periods, you may have an idea of who will get the boot, but there is never any certainty. You are presented with headshots of all your island buddies, and a quick click casts your vote. Small parchments appear with the names of people that have votes against them, and as Jeff Probst calls names off, marks are made on the papers accordingly. Finally one of the players is sent packing and, if you made the cut, you head back to camp for another survival period. This concludes one “episode” of a 3, 7 or 13 episode campaign, dependent on which you opted for at the games start.

The feature of Survivor that intrigued me the most (before I opened the box) was the multiplayer game. The game can support up to 6 people, yet it is quite difficult to find anyone to play against. Once you get going, you can chat with all the players in game during survival periods, and right before the voting at Tribal Council. I found it quite necessary to plan the voting ahead of time, since you are only given a short amount of time to chat prior to the vote. The multiplayer option could have inserted some much-needed amusement if the underlying game hadn’t so many flaws.

Sadly, Survivor doesn’t pick up many points in the graphics and sound category. The engine itself is pretty solid, but there are a few terrain glitches such as a river that looks like it is flowing at light speed. The sound effects aren’t bad, yet some of the looping tribal music made me reach for my blowgun. However, video grabs from the show that are used for cut scenes throughout, are a nice change of pace from all the 3d animation.

Being a mac gamer tends to mean you don’t get the same selection of games that the pc army does. This usually means the only retail games that make it to our operating system are ones that are super popular. That being said, I don’t quite understand why MacSoft decided to publish this game after its failure in the pc world. However this game would have gotten a few more points if there were a “gnaw on the BBQ‘ed rodent” button. Ah well.

Survivor: The Interactive Game
Publisher: MacSoft

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