On the planet Proteus, Shapers mine
the surface for Multiplast, a strange, semi-intelligent substance that can be molded into
any kind of biotech device. The stuff grows back once harvested, created an endless supply
of raw material for a biological and technological wonder-society. However, there are
those who would throw the proverbial monkeywrench in the works. You play Nevin, an
extremely gifted Shaper, sent to Proteus to stop the evil Paavo. Paavo is also a very
gifted Shaper, and he has created a new form of Multiplast called Xenoplast, which is
self-aware and not at all happy about being harvested for human use.
Thus the story of Alter Echo begins.
Its a twist on some tried and true plot elements the alien planet becoming
aware of human exploitation has even been represented in games like Alpha Centauri, and in
an interesting twist on Red Faction you play a miner working to help the company by
opressing the actual material being mined (hows that for some convoluted
interpretation?) but the style of execution is what really sets Alter Echo apart.
This is a game that Capcom will be envious of, and fans of gratuitous visual effects,
fast-paced action, and lots of battles will eat it up.
Nevins vocation, Shaper, he can transform himself (presumably via his Multiplast
armor or something) into three different modes. In his melee mode he fights with a sword
for some slice and dice action. He can switch to gun mode, where he turns into a giant
mech-type thing packing a huge cannon and grenades. His third incarnation is the stealth
mode, in which he becomes invisible (but still looks like some kind of freaky gecko), can
travel on special "stealth paths" and can assasinate enemies from behind. These
modes can be switched into and out of on the fly and make for some interesting battle
Adding to his
arsenal is the fact that Nevin, like Paavo, is one of the very few Shapers endowed with
the ability to "Time Dilate." Dilating time allows you to pause the action in
the game and enter a huge hit combo: The screen clouds over and a pattern draws out. You
must mimic the pattern with the controller in order to pull off part or all of the combo.
Timing is crucial, and if you enter the combo to quickly or slowly you will only manage
part of it. Once youve finished entering the combo, you get to sit back for a second
and watch the carnage unfold. It is truly satisfying.
The world of
Proteus looks like some kind of hippy-Geiger nightmare. The colors are vibrant, and
everything has a very organic look to it. This is what Aliens would look like if it crash
landed in Wonderland, and theres no doubt that as you show this game off to your
friends somebody will utter, "Trippy
" Adding to the overal
"trippiness" of the game are the insane camera effects. The screen warps and
bends as you engage your enemies, making you feel like youre really watching a
nightmare unfold, and camera filters enhance the edgy, quick-cut style. Add to all of that
a whole bunch of cool sword, gun, explosion, and morph effects, and Alter Echo is packed
with more eye candy than a night at the Playboy mansion.
seems just shy of frantic, and thats a good thing. At times Nevin fights with NPCs
he meets. Although they do alright on their own, Nevin can trigger special combos for them
when he completes a Time Dilation combo successfully. And, when you figure that Nevin
himself is kind of like using three different characters, its not hard to see how
these engagements could get huge. The fact that the planets surface is really pissed
at you means youll constantly battle the Xenoplast.
Alter Echo just
looks like fun. Although the story is pretty good, and seems to be fully fleshed out at
least in the minds of the developers, Outrage Games, it will undoubtedly take a backseat
to the action, and thats OK. There is always a spot for a high-quality run and gun
game, and Alter Echo looks to fit the bill. Adding the visual effects is a good way to
innovate on a tried and true gaming concept, and the aesthetic approach to this title is
thoroughly laudable. There is no other game that looks quite like it, and thats a
Sci-fi adventure fans can get their fix with Alter Echo, coming to your Xbox and PS2 in