You read right, Body Harvest on the N64 is indeed the father of Grand Theft Auto 3. The engine used for the N64 title (one that was due out in 1996 with the launch) in turn evolved into the $$$$ that is GTA series (Take 2 and DMA Interactive which became the GTA Rockstar team). While the landscapes aren't dense cities for the most part, they are wide open, loaded with tons of buildings, vehicles and result in a primitive, yet very similar feel to the newer GTA games.
So now that I've established the importance of Body Harvest, the game itself needs to be discussed. You play the role of a poorly dressed hero who has been sent to six different time periods to wipe out an alien menace feeding on humans. Your job is to dispose of these bugs before they can "harvest" (meaning devour) the countryside, jungle, tundra, comet, or cityscape. To stop the menace, you must travel the lands by finding various planes, boats, cars, tanks, motorcycles, or pretty much any transportation method that conveniently comes with a gun. The cool part is that each time period features specific vehicles to that period and thus while you might fly a kickass Apache in the "1960's American" level, you won't be doing so in the "1942 Java WWII" level.
So basically, the gist of the game is destroy the threat by following your poor radar until you fight tremendous bosses three times on each stage. Overall, each stage can last anywhere from 2-10 hours, so you're looking at quite the commitment. This is also compounded by a poor save system (only after bosses and no checkpoints), insane difficulty, and the deadly aspect of water. For some reason, even outside of a vehicle (sans a boat), water kills our hero. So therefore, in some instances you will be forced to swim short distances while your health depletes. Sometimes though, enemies will appear randomly while you're swimming and shoot you into the depths. Anger rising.
Yet, despite this annoyance, the game manages to be very entertaining and fresh throughout thanks to the multitude of vehicles, objectives, and great variety in scenery. One other unfortunate part of the gameplay is the RPG elements that seem more like a cosmetic touch and nothing else. They bog down the real meat of the game and sadly were the reason the game was delayed for about fourteen months back in the N64 heyday.
Moving along, the game also features a dynamic score and very strong sounds. Aliens sound good and the radar makes this weird heat noise that definitely gets your blood pumping from those aliens. Beside the sound, the graphics don't fair very well at all. Textures are incredibly bad and the design, save for some goofy cool aliens, pretty much sucks. The redeeming feature is the jawdropping size of the worlds (seriously) and tremendous variety. However, they get the job done in a very utilitarian, if not somewhat boring, way.
Overall, if you can get past the graphics, difficulty, and deadly water, Body Harvest is a definite buy for fans of shooters/driving games and for those looking for one great little misplaced piece of history.