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Alter Echo Preview
game: Alter Echo
posted by: Shawn Rider
publisher: Outrage Games
date posted: 09:10 AM Mon Jun 3rd, 2002
last revision: 05:42 AM Wed Nov 30th, 2005

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. It\'s 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 (how\'s 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.

Because of Nevin\'s 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 tactics.

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 you\'ve 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 there\'s 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 you\'re 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.
The gameplay seems just shy of frantic, and that\'s 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, it\'s not hard to see how these engagements could get huge. The fact that the planet\'s surface is really pissed at you means you\'ll 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 that\'s 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 that\'s a relief.

Sci-fi adventure fans can get their fix with Alter Echo, coming to your Xbox and PS2 in early 2003.