In Britain recently we've had a little hot weather and with that event I had to dig to the back of my wardrobe past the jumpers, body warmers and thick combat pants to find the selection of t-shirts and shorts that last oddorned my body in 2006 (it pissed down all last year with the exception of two weeks in April). Whilst digging through the t-shirts I found a rare item that returned fond memories. It was a simple white t-shirt that was addorned on the upper left side of the chest area by a logo consisting of bullseye with a super deformed space marine in yellow armour in front of it. Below that simply the words BODY HARVEST.
This was a pre-ordering gift from EB, my assumption was so great that this awesome game would fly off the shelves that I fealt it needed pre-oredering. I meen free roaming sandbox environments, time travel, alien invaders and you could steal cars. A common occourance now but in the days of 1998 it was a revolutionary concept to see in full 3D as GTA was still in the top down world it had been presented in since the first Grand Theft was released roughly around a year earlier.
I still have the cart which has sat unloved since I sold my N64 some years ago. :(
What was Body Harvest
Body Harvest was a 3D action game from Scottish developers DMA Design (now known to me and you as Rockstar North) for the Nintendo 64. The games plot saw you as Adam Drake, a lone space marine and one of the few surviving humans, from the year 2016 being sent back to 4 key locations in the 20th century in order to prevent an alien race of insectoids from wiping out humanity.
The game viewed now is very much the spiritual older brother of GTA 3 in terms of graphics and basic gameplay. This was the first real experiment with sandbox gaming, with each of the time periods consisting of suprisingly large environments that you could move around at will in even commandeering any vehicles in the level to get around quicker. Parts of the level where cut off by alien shields until the shield generator for that section was destroyed a tactic that has been uesd to similar effect in GTA with the bridges being cordoned of by the police.
One of the distintive differeces betweent this and GTA is regard for human life. Where as Niko Belic and co can kill civillians without it being that concequential in the games outcome, Body Harvest required that you protect civillian life and a bar was present in your HUD displaying the current death toll for the level. Let too many die and it was game over.
Doing motorbikes, fighter planes and combine harvesters long before Vice City and San Andreas
Body Harvest II?
There have been no plans announced regarding a sequel, prequel or remake. Not even a virtual console/Live Arcade/PSN release. The last anyone made mention of it was in GTA: San Andreas in the mission "Body Harvest" which name checked the game and referenced a mission in the game where you had to mow down Zombies in 90's Siberia using a Combine Harvister.
Plot is never a small part of a Rockstar North game as many of you passing through Liberty City recently will have noticed. How plot is dealt with in a Body Harvest sequel is down to two things:
1 - Will Rockstar North want to continue continuity to a game only a few people played, potentailly alienating new players or a whole new plot based on the originals thus making it more of a remake?
2 - The original Body Harvest had a similar cartoony style to the GTA III series and so had a more B-movie plot line. With GTA IV the games became more realistic in appearance and so became deeper with better developed characterisation, so would BHII reflect this and have a more serious tone?
My personal take on it would be to have a new lead protaganist in a new story line that alludes on ocassion to the events of Body Harvest. Setting it in the same world but having it distant enough so as to not put off new players.
As I mentioned before one of the central mechanics of Body Harvest was the death toll bar that measured civilian fatalities in the level. However the civilians did little to hide from the onslaught and there was nothing you could do to help them either so frequently the innocent would blunder into the front of a vehicle that you were driving or into enemy fire. Introducing a command element for your hero that allows you to hurd people to places of safety would be a huge boon.
Combat would more than likely be very similar to that found in cult game Earth Defefnce Force 2017, a very similar run and gun style but with vehicular combat, maybe even the scale of destruction that EDF2017 allows just to really bring the sense of a full scale alien invasion into the battle.
Doing something with the time travel aspect would allow Rockstar to pay with the moral implications of our actions much like they did with GTA IV. GTA IV had moments where you had to choose between one thing and another, the resulting choice would ultimately affect the games outcome so why not have that in there too. Have our main guy or gal choose to save either thier best friends mum or Albert Einstien, something like that.
Progress between time zones was linear in Body Harvest, as you went from the far past and moved ever closer to the future. A choice as to which of the threatened times you wish to visit could the way the game plays as events in one time will effect the othersand again show us the implications of our actions. For example letting someone die in the past could turn a utopian future into a distopian one, this in turn having the effect of civilians not listening to your commands to take cover as they might view you as a fascist enforcer but you'll have access to more powerful weapons.
Will it Happen?
Will Rockstar North retire it's main money spining franchise if only for a short while to concentrate on a second interation of Body Harvest?
It's not very likely is it? With GTA being the centre of gaming (and some non gaming) media attention the chances of seeing a return by this or fellow N64 stable mate Space Station Silicon Valley before another GTA are slim. Sad but a truth we must accept. I have fired off an e-mail to Rockstars PR department asking if there are any plans for Body Harvest, as soon as I hear anything you'll be the first to know D'toid.