| Outrage Games
| The Good
Time Dilation minigame
| The Bad
Weak gameplay, graphics
Lacking in story
NextGen action games are available in various flavors.
Some are simple, some are very ambitious breakthrough
innovatorsÖ and then there are those pretentious
types. The ones which are hyped to be the next
innovator, but theyíre really nothing more than
failures. Alter Echo belongs to that category of
action games. Itís lacking in almost every category.
Graphics - The game strives for a very bare and yet
organic feel. It succeeds in doing that. But that
isnít what we really want. The backgrounds are
extremely repetitive and barren. The purple/reddish
levels donít do much for the game. Same goes for the
enemies and the characters. The characters donít look
convincing enough. The game features very edgy
animations and renders for both Nevin and the enemies.
This means that the battles are not a very pretty
sight to look at. Neither are the cutscenes as the
facial animations are extremely lacking. Nevinís
transformations are relatively good to look at along
with the time-dilation cutscenes. Although the game
runs at a somewhat steady 60 FPS, that quality canít
compensate for the other flaws.
Presentation Ė The game teeters on the edge of
surrealism. But it never truly falls into a freefall
of an imaginative expanse. It tries hard to put forth
believable characters in its FMVs and cutscenes, but
disappointingly, these come across very weak, mainly
due to a lack of backstory. The menus are easy to work
with but the title screen menu is severely lacking,
further hurting the game. The OSD is in the same vein
of simplicity. Overall, AE is presented with very weak
conviction and determination. Nothing really stands
out, except its quirkiness, which doesnít really add
much to the game other than a superficial sci-fi feel.
Sound/Music Ė Nothing much can be said of the gameís
music, because itís so unmemorable that you might not
remember even if there was a background score there.
The simple techno themes stay in the back most of the
time, rarely coming forth to support the action or a
cutscene. The voice acting in the game is average.
Nothing more and maybe nothing less. Nevin sounds like
the stereotypical whiny/reluctant hero. The supporting
cast is also stereotypical. You have your basic love
interest and a gruff supporting character, the evil
villain and his big and stupid and small and smart
lackeys. Everyone conforms to their role. Thus, the VA
feels extremely artificial and as deep as a rain
puddle. The rest of the game sounds like it is
expected to. Slashes sound like slashes, guns firing
sound like we expect them to and an explosion sounds
like a boom. The enemies too sound like every other
action game. This is not good. As a game which goes
for a very different look and feel AE should have
aimed for a much more surreal feel.
Story Ė AE features a slightly standardized action
game story with pretentious sci-fi overtones. As it
stands, the human race has discovered a pseudo-living
matter called Protoplast. This matter can be used for
various purposes and a select few, called Shapers, are
able to work with it. One of the best Shapers, Paavo,
decides to take Protoplast to the next level and
creates a highly evolved and sentient form of
Protoplast, Echoplast, only to become deranged and aim
for world.. no, universal domination using his
Echoplast. Of course, Paavo has been missing for a
while and itís up to Nevin and his team to find Paavo,
but theyíre shot down and Nevin is separated from his
team. How surprising. Nevin is then contacted by Echo,
who wishes to become free from his evil master and
save the Universe, which is not possible without
Nevinís help. Nevin is granted special powers thanks
to Echo and now he must stop Paavo. Yawn. Yes, the
story does have a few obligatory twists near the end.
Gameplay Ė Outrage had repeatedly heralded its gameís
gameplay as very innovative and the way they put it
forth in trailers and interviews it seemed that maybe
this game would be something radically new. It is new.
Thatís true, but it isnít pushed to itís true
potential. The game feels like a demo of the pre-alpha
version of the real game. Everything that Outrage
advertised is in the game, only itís not executed
AEís overly advertised USP was that Nevin could change
form with the simple press of a button. This would
allow for very fun and strategic battles as the three
forms are radically different an allow for different
approaches to the game. That doesnít work out really
well due to lack of polish. The 3 forms can be
classified as Blade, Tank and Stealth. All of them
handle uniquely with unique moves and specials. The
game fools you into believing that you can perform
inter-form combos quite easily, but you canít. The
game is very rigid. It has itís set number of
transformation moves and combos, killing some of the
novelty of transformation. Speaking of moves, you
start out with a small set of moves and linkable
combos, and a single form. But quickly you are given
access to all three forms and buyable moves and armor
and weapon upgrades, which are bought by expending
experience orbs. Most of these moves are pretty
useless and youíll find yourself going for weapon and
Through most of the game youíll find yourself mowing
through stupid groups of weak enemies to solve easy
puzzles and move from point A to B. The puzzles mostly
require either the Stealth form or the Snake-like
minigame puzzles which help you to use Echoís powers
to alter and purify levels among other things. The
game also features a varied group of boss battles
which rarely require much strategy. Most end of level
battles see you merely facing off against a group of
enemies. One of AEís most novel features is the
time-dilation move, which features the same Snakelike
minigame where you must move your player in a grid
using the face-buttons on the controller with rhythm
to strike enemies in dilated time and if you are
successful you will be awarded with a slightly
gratifying cutscene of Nevin attacking the enemies.
Granted itís nothing more than a glorified super-bomb,
but itís till fun to use. But sadly it is extremely
underused in the game, primarily due to low difficulty
and weak level/boss design. Despite all itís flaws, AE
controls surprisingly well. Itís a breeze to pull of
transformations and combos in the most chaotic of
battles and the time dilation parts are easy to work
with due to spot on button press recognition.
Difficulty Ė AE is a very easy game. Extremely easy.
You can breeze through it with little or no trouble.
The boss battles are easy and the puzzles are too
simple. With relative ease you can string long combos
to gain exp orbs and use those to upgrade Nevin. Itís
this ease that also is a big negative for the game.
Had the game been more difficult, it would have forced
the gamer to find more depth in the gameplay.
Replay Value Ė Replay value? What replay value? There
is absolutely no reason for you to play this game
second time. The game offers you absolutely nothing.
Nothing at all.
Overall Ė In the end AE is nothing more than an
ambitious project that lost itís way. Itís as if the
guys at Outrage struck upon innovative gameplay ideas
but they just couldnít mould a good game around them.
The simple truth is that AE is a very weak game. But
the really bitter truth is that despite my continuous
rants this game can be had fun with. If you really try
and get yourself into the game you will be rewarded
with a few seemingly good hours. Iím definitely not
recommending a purchase here, not even a rent. But if
you want to check AE out, you will have to make a
conscious effort to have fun with it. AE does hint at
a sequel and hopefully it will be more than a demo of
the beta version of the true game.
- Rise of the Phoenix