Sometimes, it just sucks to be a reviewer and a gamer at the same time. It sucks more when that specific gamer/reviewer is also a tester for a game company like me! I say that because a lot of games recently have shown that the company that made the game, didn’t test it well enough, which just makes my blood boil to the extreme. I know it can be because of budget or time, but there is no excuse to release a half-baked product. Speaking of half-baked products, let’s take a look at one of Outrage’s last games, Alter Echo. Released in 2003, Alter Echo was released during the time when other games like Panzer Dragoon Orta, Devil May Cry 2, Silent Hill 3, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Beyond Good and Evil, Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, Jak 2, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time were released. So, why was this game somewhat overlooked and only given an average rating from reviewers and critics? I can think of a few reasons.
The story starts out with a ship heading to a planet with a young shaper called Nevin, who can use a substance called Plast to shape it into anything he wants. He is accompanied by two other people, but is quickly separated from them by an unknown attack on their ship. Nevin then falls to the planet they were approaching, but is saved by a new form of plast called echo plast. The echo plast then gives Nevin a new shaper suit and the ability to turn into three different forms. It is up to Nevin to stop whoever created the echo plast, save his two friends, and get off the planet. So yeah, to fill in a void I left out of the plot, the echo plast was made by a powerful shaper named Paavo who went nuts and was the one who shot down the ship Nevin was on.
The game play featured in Alter Echo is an action/plat former/third person shooter/stealth. Nevin has three forms he can turn into. His first form is his default form, called sword form, which has nothing to do with the sword form used in Kamen Rider Den-O. He can basically do strong attacks and normal attacks in this form, and isn’t anything different than what other action games have shown. I will say that it is a lot better than the first Jak and Daxter game’s physical combat moves. His next form is a bulky muscular suit of armor with a big gun called gun form, and still doesn’t have anything to do with the gun form from Kamen Rider Den-O. In this form, Nevin can take out long-range enemies and groups of enemies quickly by the giant gun he uses. He can also stand in certain areas and become a turret-like gunner, and shoot down enemies in one area. The final form is the stealth form, which turns Nevin into a tropical tree frog on steroids. No, I’m kidding, but he does look weird and you can see the form on the front of the cover on the box. He can basically lunge at enemies and slap them around, go invisible and get back turrets, and launch enemies into the air with his tongue. During the game you can upgrade all your forms with more moves, better armor, a better sword, and you get the idea. Another main gimmick of the game is to control time to take out multiple enemies. You basically have to play a game of Snake, controlling it with the directional pad or face buttons and go over enemy icons or over controls to unlock bridges and such.
The graphics in the game are surprisingly colorful. I was surprised to see so much color since it seems like during the mid to late 2000’s, people forgot we could use color in games and not just gray, brown, and black. It gives the game a very comic book feel, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was based on a comic book. The music is also fun to listen to, but isn’t worth finding a soundtrack for. The voice acting is well, half and half. Some people do a good job and some just don’t do a good job at all.
Now, it is time to give this game a well-deserved beating for all the bad parts it has. First off, the camera is far too close to the person. I mean, look at camera angles from games like God of War 3 where it gives the camera a great position to be in, giving the player enough room to see what is going on around him. The enemies can be really cheap since during the rest of the game, you end up fighting enemies who are guard-happy and are very tedious to kill. It seems like they can hurt you faster and easier than you can. Another thing that annoys me about the forms is that during the beginning part of the game, you get all three at the get-go, and then the villain, the jerk that he is, takes them away from you. I mean, if you were going to take them away, then why give them to you in the first place?! The biggest thing that I just HATE about this game are the bugs that frequently pop up. The bugs I am talking about is that the game kept freezing on me and it had an issue with reading the disc. I mean, what kind of cheap testing team did Outrage have? No wonder they went out of business. They just made poorly made decisions, like “hey, let’s not advertise the game or have a good group of game testers!” Stuff like this annoys the ever-loving heck out of me! I mean, if it’s not ready, then don’t release it where a player can only get in an hour and a half of playing and then the game crashes and can never be played again unless you start a new game. What were they thinking?! Did they think the showstopper bugs were not important, or did some moronic tester not report them and instead went partying? Another issue I have is with the facial expressions on the people. They all look the same throughout the game. Did they just watch the most depressing film ever and not want to live? Well, I didn’t want to live either after finding out how bad this game is. Another thing that I have an issue with this game is that no one has ever seen fit to report in their reviews that the game kept crashing on them or freezing. Were these people stupid or were they focusing on something else and just didn’t know the game crashed or froze?
Overall, Alter Echo had interesting ideas, but was not executed at all very well, the combat is sluggish, the plot is boring, and the game kept crashing and freezing on me. Avoid this game at all cost! Heck, I would play Dark Void again and watch The Never Ending Story 3 rather than play this game. Now, I’ve got another candidate for my list of games to blacklist and destroy.
This game gets a 2 out of 10