After I managed to complete the final "rhythm" puzzle in Alter Echo (which requires near super-human hand-eye coordination to pull off), I found myself sitting in front of my TV, PlayStation 2 controller dangling from hand, craving more. The game might have been finished, but I wasn't. With most games, once the final credits roll, I'm relieved rather than gratified. Not so with Alter Echo. This is the first time in ages that a game left me wishing it was actually longer.

And once the game ends, it really ends. There are no extra levels, no bonus gameplay modes—nothing. As it stands, Alter Echo is a relatively short (it took me around 10 hours to complete) but very sweet third-person action game, and one of more underrated games of the year. Like Brad says, the game certainly won't "start trends," but the rich and varied gameplay, along with the ability to morph my character, works to keep the game "Ziploc fresh," which is something I can't say for most games in the beat-'em-up genre.

Alter Echo's boss fights struck me as exceptionally inventive and compelling. The game's various bosses always kept my heart pounding and my brain working. In fact, two of the boss fights actually had me scratching my head for a few evenings, trying to figure out how best to handle them. The developers at Outrage obviously spent a good deal of energy creating these challenging opponents.

I disagree with Brad about the game's camera; it's certainly not perfect, but in my opinion, it's more than serviceable, and better than the cameras found in most games in the genre. My one major complaint with Alter Echo is that I found the ability to morph—which is the game's calling card—somewhat underused. I played through around 80 percent of the game, changing suits only on rare occasions. Only in the final stages did the game finally force me to become skilled at morphing (at that point, I learned to transform faster than J. Lo). Switching between Stealth, Gun and Combat forms is novel concept, and I would have liked to see this unique ability play a more integral role in the gameplay at an earlier point in the game.

And I agree with Brad about the unbelievably ridiculous attack on the final boss. It's absurd how long this last bit goes on. Instead of feeling like the dramatic catharsis it's supposed to be, I found myself laughing at how over-the-top it was. Unlike other games in the genre, Alter Echo clearly does not make the mistake of taking itself too seriously. Overall, this is a high-quality, if a little silly, Sci-Fi action game. It's been on store shelves for only a few months, but it's already easily obtainable for less than 20 dollars. That's a bargain. Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Disclaimer: This review is based on the Playstation 2 version of the game.

Scott Jones
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