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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Acclaim

 

Developer

Acclaim

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

April 5, 2004

 

 

- Decent character models
- Cool split screen
- Faithful to show

 

 

- Arbitrary stealth mechanics
- Completely terrible fighting system
- Most of the game is just plain broken

 

 

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Alias

Score: 4.8 / 10

 

alias xbox review          alias xbox review

 

Alias is one of those television shows that would fit extremely well as a video game. It's fast paced, there's plenty of action and sneaking around (the latest trend in today's gaming), and a twisty enough plot that would put most RPGs to shame. And while licensed games seldom work out, gems like the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the Xbox prove that they're not always lost causes. Unfortunately, despite the vast gorges of potential, the Alias video game is completely marred by sub par execution.

Things actually look quite good when you first start up. The characters models are excellent, even if their facial expressions are still rather robotic. Everyone looks reasonably similar to their TV show counterparts, and most of them have the same voice actors, making the game feel quite authentic. The game's plot won't make

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any sense if you don't follow the show, but it's not terribly important - you just play Sidney Bristow as she traipses over the world, infiltrating evil casinos and eviler insane asylums, and dresses up a variety of wacky disguises (and yes, that fantastic blue haired goth chick outfit shows up.)

Unfortunately, all of this realism goes right out the window the moment you move Sidney. Her

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movements border on over-the-top ridiculousness, particularly while running. The advertisements brag about motion captured actions, and while that's potentially believable, it seems like the animation programmers didn't know how make it look realistic. On the other end, the environments are fairly good looking, and while lacking a lot of the fancy effects, are at least well detailed.

Theoretically, you're supposed to spend most of your mission sneaking in the shadows. Unfortunately, the stealth mechanics are so poorly implemented that this is rather difficult. You see, these guards suffer from completely erratic sight. Sometimes they won't see you from twenty feet away. Sometimes you may attempt to hide, but they'll usually turn their heads and see you. There are shadows, but hiding in them doesn't make you less visible. There are cans to try to distract enemies, but they don't seem to hear them. And it's not like you have any real need to stay hidden, as there are few points where it's necessary to the game.

About the only time when the game does anything right is when it splits up the screen a la another TV show, "24", which shows you two different views of the same field. While one side keeps track of Sidney, the other shows you a patrolling guard or the view from another camera. It's never really used to full effect, but it's an interesting novelty that'd work well in other stealth games.

 

alias xbox review          alias xbox review


The only true incentive to avoid being spotted is that you would get to avoid the terrible fighting portions, as those are some of the absolute sloppiest in recent memory. You have two attack buttons, that seem to make Sidney punch and kick in an arbitrarily manner. She executes her maneuvers too quickly, and as a result, every beating exudes awkwardness. There seems to be a plethora of moves at your disposal, as you'll occasionally smash bad guys against the wall or beat them when they're on the ground, but it rarely feels like you have any control over this. It's never very difficult either - practically any fight can be done by getting close and hitting X over and over. I'm entirely serious in saying that arcade brawlers like, say, Double Dragon, nearly two decades old, have a more in-depth fighting systems. There's just something wrong with that. You do get tons of weapons, ranging from pipes to brooms to decorative swords, which SHOULD be cool, but due to the inherent sloppiness, aren't. You can also find guns - with extraordinarily limited ammo - but trying to aim them is an exercise in pathetic hilarity.

What's even more stunning is that, in some levels, you don't have to fight at all. In the earlier stages of the game, you can simply run past bad guys. They won't catch up to you, or follow you through doors. And since Sidney regains health over time (albeit slowly) you're pretty much assured safety. Later levels actually send waves of bad guys after you if you're discovered, so at least the developers realized the problems and decided to add SOME balance SOMEWHERE.

Alias tries to provide some variety with a slew of high tech gadgets, introduced by rambling techno geek Marshall (who takes far too much of the spotlight here.) And yet the designers somehow took things like "EMP Guns" and "Remote Modems" and made them terribly, terrible boring. For instance, early in the game you get a device to disable infrared lasers. You select it from your inventory, deactivate the beams, walk through, select it AGAIN, retrieve the device, walk a few steps forward and do it again. And again. Or, you could just run right through them, fight the bad guys that come out (some of which will occasionally appear from thin air) and just continue as normal. Brilliant design, Alias is full of.

Thankfully, Alias isn't overly difficult, especially with the multitude of save spots lying around. That way, obsessive fans of the show can at least play through for the storyline without tearing out too much hair. And with the extremely simplified gameplay, it seems to be made squarely for fans who don't play much video games. Everyone else can simply leave this on the shelf, with the quiet satisfaction that they haven't paid yet another game company for making yet another crappy game.

- Kurt Kalata
(May 15, 2004)

 

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