551th played so far
Platform: Nintendo 64
Year of Release: 1998
Developer: DMA Design
Publisher: Gremlin Interactive/Midway Home Entertainment
Body Harvest has been on our radar for quite some time. The developer above may look familiar to you… Although they are now better known as Rockstar North. And while they might be best known for their Grand Theft Auto series, Grand Theft Auto 3 wasn’t their first open world game. That honour goes to this Nintendo 64 gem.
I actually recently read an article about the creation process. It ended up a lot more serious than originally intended, with a B-movie flavour. There’s also a lot of time travel for no real reason (I think). We’ll see what we’re in for.
Body Harvest clearly knows the constraints it needs to play in. It doesn’t look too complex, but provides enough detail in the environment to show you what’s going on. It’s not quite minimalist, but instead of going for detail, it goes for broad strokes so it can have a bigger world.
And the start of the game does feel like your standard open world set up – get in a car, drive for a bit, kill some enemies. Rinse, repeat, go for the build up. You need to go across a bridge, so go into the house and close it. Go here, find something, and so on. Slowly, the game introduces additional objectives and things to do – a timed side mission lets you get to a town to put out fires, but if you can’t get there on time it’s not game ending.
It’s a nice build up that introduces you to a bunch of lore as well. You find out more about people and weapons that are hidden. I’m not quite sure how these weapons and how this equipment ends up in 1910s Greece, but that doesn’t seem to matter as much. Still, it’s mostly about B-movie sci fi attacks happening throughout time and you have to fight off these alien bugs.
The fights work decently well, iwth some differences between weapons and different options. Unlike later games in the genre, having a car is clearly superior for fighting – it gives you more protection and the controls actually make fighting easier. It often ends up being entertaining, even if the on foot controls are more likely to get aggravating.
Beyond that guided exploration is a big thing. Parts of it have the game mostly tell you where to go, but there are still spots and sights (such as they are) to discover on your own. Some of them you would get past anyway, but it still makes you feel the freedom far more than other contemporary games.
If you look at this as a fully formed open world game, you’ll be disappointed. The game clearly stays quite level focused and isn’t quite as open. It is still hiding more than most level based games and simply feels huge. A game that I had to play and did enjoy a lot.