Hands-onAlter Echo

We check out THQ and Outrage Games' unique action game.

THQ showed off a playable build of Alter Echo for the PlayStation 2 at its recent press event. The third-person action game is being developed by Outrage games and features several unique gameplay elements. The main character was recently redesigned by Outrage in response to feedback on the game, and he sported a new look in the build we played.

The game puts you in the role of a reluctant hero named Nevin who gets to take on a biomechanical planet that's in a surly mood. To make matters worse, the planet's biomechanical nature allows it to create hordes of enemies. While it may sound like a tall order to take on a planet and all the enemies it can throw at you, Nevin isn't without some resources of his own. Thanks to his sleek polysuit, Nevin is able to morph into different forms--melee, stealth, or gun--with unique abilities that are just what the doctor ordered when dealing with moody planet surfaces. Nevin will also have the handy ability to "dilate" time in special sequences that you can initiate during combat.

The game consists of standard brawling with puzzle and platformer elements thrown in. Combat in the game actually offers a solid variety of combo possibilities. The melee form is a capable brawler for close-quarters fighting because of its decent speed. The stealth form is best suited for sneaking up to enemies because of its small size and ability to stick to certain surfaces. Though the stealth form is not as powerful as the other forms, you can still pull off some slick kills. The gun form, on the other hand, is essentially a cannon on feet, and it packs an impressive punch. One of the coolest touches is the way you can use the various forms to create combos. For example, you can begin an attack in melee then switch to stealth, or you can use stealth to initiate an attack and finish it off with the gun form. The time-dilation effects are impressive, although they're a challenge to actually explain. You can initiate the sequences, which call up an entirely new menu on the screen, anytime you have the available energy to do so. The sequences require you to input controller motions as a display moves across the screen. Successfully inputting the commands rewards you with spectacular and damaging attacks. If you make a mistake, you'll still perform an attack, but it won't cause as much damage.

Alter Echo's graphics are a good complement to the game's story and gameplay. The game's art style features a rich color palette that's quite impressive on the PlayStation 2. The environments themselves have soft edges and a very organic look overall. You'll find a wealth of special effects at work in the game to reflect Nevin's attack in each of the forms and the time-dilation sequences. When you perform a successful attack, the game's dynamic camera takes some very dramatic turns around you and your target, which keeps things visually interesting.

Based on what we played, Alter Echo is looking quite promising. The interesting gameplay mechanics and quirky story show a lot of promise. Alter Echo is due out late in the summer for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Look for more on the game soon.

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