I've become a big fan of bargain bins.
I have to pay for every game now that I no longer review
professionally; the ability to pick up a title for $9.99 or $14.99
has a deep appeal. I like to buy my games new, so that limits
my purchases to so-called 'price drops,' when the inventory
exceeds demand and the various stores start lowering their
prices to get rid of the games. I have a habit of buying four or five cheap games
at once, only one or two of which I'm really interested in,
since the total investment still ends up being cheaper than
two full-priced titles.
This ties into what I call the Rule of Movie Value
. (Well, no,
I don't really call it that. I don't really call it anything. But
you're not allowed to have rules of thumb without names.)
The idea behind it is simple. I pay seven bucks for two hours
at a movie theater. A video game isn't as pretty, but it's
interactive, so I pretend that these two things balance out.
I want two hours of videogame enjoyment out of every seven
dollars I put into a game.
The appeal of bargain bins is therefore obvious: if a game
provides me with six hours of entertainment, a twenty-dollar
pricetag is reasonable. If I pick up four games from the
bin, and spend ten hours on two of them, I've probably made
my money's worth and don't have to worry about the two that
I'm not playing.
was purchased with that sort of logic. I
paid a whopping $6.99 for it; if I had a
couple of hours of fun, I would have been satisfied.
I didn't have any particular
sentiment on the game one way or the other, as reviews
were fairly vague--"combo-based action adventure?" Isn't
that every game released since Devil May Cry
the review scores landed just about everywhere, but mostly
in the centre.
Short analysis: Fun game, repetitive, but definitely worth
a bargain bin price.
The backstory is actually fairly original, even if the game
doesn't take it anywhere suprising. You
assume the role of Nevin, a man in the future who has the ability
to shape plast
, which "modern" technology is based on. The universe's
top plast researcher has gone missing, so Nevin and two other folks
are sent to his last known location to find out What Went Wrong.
Upon arriving, they're shot out of the sky, Nevin wakes up inside
an environment that would make Georgia O'Keefe proud and sporting a brand
new bodysuit, and thus the adventure begins.
As you progress through the game, Nevin gains the ability to change
into three different forms. This switching is effectively instantaneous,
allowing you to switch back and forth during battle. This is the
core of the game: slaughtering tonnes of enemies by beating the
crap out of them, switching forms when an enemy requires a different
tactic. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The combat is fun, and you can power up your suit with new skills by
spending points. Those points are gained by chaining attacks into
combos, so it behooves you to make use of the battle system as
efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, it's fairly easy to abuse;
there are certain enemy generators which spawn a large number of
beasties, and if you time your attacks right you can set up chains
that go into the hundreds of hits, netting you a huge number of
points. I bought every possible upgrade by the time I was three-quarters
of the way through the game, and when I beat it I had enough to buy
them all over again.
As always, it's the little things that drag the game down some.
An early enemy--the Plasmid Elite--is damn near impossible, unless
you buy a specific upgrade (the boomerang shot, in case you're curious),
at which point they become positively trivial to destroy. The first time
I fought them I was conserving my points and got mauled; I restarted
the game and bought the boomerang shot on a hunch, and the rest of the
game became quite a bit easier as a result. There are also balance issues with
the various bosses; some are totally trivial, some are quite challenging, and one of them (the
next to last one) is an exercise in plodding frustration, with a
second form that drove me dangerously close to controller-in-TV syndrome.
That aside, though, the game was quite a bit of fun. Repetitive, yes,
but the repetition appealed to the completist gamer in me--I kept
trying to maximize my combos, figuring out new ways to switch between
enemies so that I could get lots of points. The setting was fairly
unique, and although the environments are fairly indistinguishable, it
doesn't do the obligatory woods-icy-dungeon-metal gamut that damn near
every platformer does nowadays. And its primary colour is purple. I like
Would I pay full price for Alter Echo
? No. Would I pick it
up in a bargain bin? Definitely. It may not be great, but it is
fun, and that's what counts.
Return to the Xbox review