Review by MrLipid
We Have a Winner!
I'm still smiling. Why? I've just been replaying some of the assignments
in Wild Earth. What is Wild Earth? Gather round the
virtual campfire on the plains of the simulated Serengeti and I'll
Wild Earth is a photo-safari game. You play a photo journalist
on assignment with a writer (Valerie Deveraux) and a professor (James
Connors), who exist in the game as voiceovers only. The writer asks
questions as the professor provides guidance, both in terms of what
one is looking for and what one is looking at. And you'll need guidance.
Wild Earth features a 3D engine proprietary to Super X Studios
that allows players to wander about as if actually on location in
As you wander, a panel in the upper left corner informs you of
what pictures need to be taken for the article Valerie is writing.
As each photo is successfully taken, the next required photo appears.
Professor Connors suggests what to look for next, and if you get
completely lost, a direction finder appears in the lower right corner
to offer a hint.
The direction finder is particularly useful when what you are looking
for is hidden by the terrain. If not for its guidance, I'd never
have found the pangolin tucked away behind a collection of massive
boulders. Finding the subjects of required photographs gives Wild
Earth an engaging Easter egghunt quality. And stalking
subjects while waiting for specific actions to occur helps develop
the patience that great photography requires. Wild Earth gently
insists that players slow down and pay attention while remaining
ready to get the shot the instant it appears. The process is both
calming and exhilarating.
The engine does a superb job of conveying the impression of a living
world. Scripted events, for example, can be viewed from any available
vantage point. Happen upon a hyena eating crocodile eggs and you
can walk to whichever position affords the best shot or take shots
from a variety of positions. You can even crouch to capture the
moment eye-to-eye. Super X Studios has worked wonders in rounding
off the usual harsh edges found in computer-generated outdoor environments.
The meticulous sound design and drumming/chanting musical score
also help deepen the immersion.
Don't Annoy the Animals
There are specific photos that must be taken and some that are
optional. While it might be tempting to get as close as possible
to your wild subjects, you will lose points if you annoy them. A
red indicator, shaped like a boomerang, appears when you are too
close. Annoy them enough and you'll have to restart the assignment.
In some cases, such as driving a jeep overland in the middle of
a stampeding herd of wildebeestsbefore dawn, no lessavoiding
contact becomes quite a challenge. (Tip: Let them all get past you
before you begin pursuit. And be patient lest you sideswipe any
The Wild Earth manual, in addition to the usual epilepsy
and motion sickness warnings, also has an Animal Warning: "Since
Wild Earth is a game, the animals cannot hurt you. But in
real life, wild animals can be very dangerous! Always use caution
and have respect for wildlife. Remember, it's their home, not yours!"
Once you have taken all of the required pictures, you can edit
them for impact before seeing them published in Ms. Deveraux's article.
The edited photos appear on a web page, which can be printed out.
You, as the photographer, get a credit alongside the writer. The
article recaps much of the information that emerges from the conversations
between Deveraux and Connors during the assignment. Did you know,
for example, that adult elephants can eat up to 440 pounds of food
a day, excreting 60 percent of it undigested? Neither did I. But
I did get a picture of that 60 percent.
What Are We Doing Today, Zool?
The assignments include catching up with a herd of zebra and exploring
their social order, taking a helicopter ride across the Ngorongoro
crater, following vultures as they soar and scavenge around the
Serengeti, driving a safari jeep and meeting up with a variety of
animals, going on a nighttime hunt for a lion pride, investigating
the sometimes craven, sometimes bold hyena during a midday thunderstorm,
entering a hidden valley and observing gentle giraffes and black
and white rhinos (did you know there were black and white rhinos?),
meeting a family of elephants as they care for their young and each
other, wading into a rushing river to get as close to Nile crocodiles
and hippos as you dare, meeting the fastest land animals (cheetahs)
and possibly the ugliest ones (warthogs), and taking the previously
mentioned predawn drive with a massive wildebeest herd as it migrates
The helicopter ride assignment is particularly challenging because
it plays out like a rail shooter. The helicopter takes a specific
path, and it is up to you to find the images that Connors and Deveraux
are discussing. You don't have a lot of time, and you don't get
a second chance. Sort of like what it's really like to take pictures
An AAA Independent
Wild Earth picked up three prizes at the 2003 Independent
Game Festival: Game of the Year, Innovation in Game Design, and
Innovation in Visual Arts. All well-deserved. Even three years later,
it remains a stunner. (It would have arrived sooner had not a publishing
deal with Digital Jesters collapsed after burning up roughly half
a year.) At the moment, Wild Earth is only available as a
download. Soon, it should be showing up at a store near you. If
Wild Earth sounds like something you'd enjoy, download the
demo. If you do enjoy it, you can order the full game from within
the demo for a mere $29.95.
Missions Accomplished: A Modest File Edit
If you want to unlock all eleven missions immediately, here's what
you need to do. Establish a player name within the game. Close the
game and go to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Super
X Studios\Wild Earth\.
Open the file "users" with NotePad. (Do not confuse the
file "users" with the folder "Users.")
Once the file "users" is open, you'll find, under the
heading [user0], the following:
Change the final 0 to 1 so that you now have this:
Save and close the file "users." You have just convinced
the game you have successfully completed all of the missions.
This means when you go to select an assignment, you can choose
from among all of the assignments the game offers.
Release Date: April 18, 2006
Four Fat Chicks Links
Windows 98SE, ME, 2000 Pro, XP Home, or XP Pro
1 GHz CPU
1 GB free hard drive space
256 MB RAM
32 MB DirectX 9.0-compatible video card (NVidia Geforce, ATI Radeon,
DirectX 9.0-compatible audio card
Where to Find It
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entered into by any party(ies).