One thing that has changed with games lately is the inclusion of combo-based action. Sure, it first appeared and was perfected in fighting games like MORTAL KOMBAT, but recently, combos have appeared in other games such as TONY HAWK and DEVIL MAY CRY, both which rewards players for well executed combos. THQ's newest game, ALTER ECHO, relies heavily on combos and fast paced action, while throwing in a nice storyline.
ALTER ECHO takes place in the future, on another world where those with psychic abilities can control a substance known as plast. Plast can basically be used to form anything, from guns to spaceships. The best shaper, known as Paavo, has recently discovered a new type of plast on another planet; the substance is simply known as echoplast. You, playing as the young character Nevin, begin your journey to the far-away planet to find Paavo. Unfortunately, the echoplast has caused him to go insane (why does that always happen?) and it is up to you to put a stop to his madness.
As you fight your way through the game, you'll notice that the suit you wear is made entirely out of echoplast. Apparently, some of the echoplast wants to put a stop to Paavo's madness as well, and it helps you out through the game (by the way, the suit has a name; it's Echo. Alter Echo...get it?). You begin with the game with just armor and a sword, but as you progress, you will be able to use Echo in different ways. There are three different forms you gain after a few levels (you actually get to see them at the beginning of the game, but then they're taken away). You have the basic sword form, but next is the gun form; it's really slow, but heavily armored. It also provides you a way to fight at a distance with enemies. The stealth form puts you on all fours and allows you to turn invisible; you can crawl up walls as well, and jump down on top of enemies as they go by.
ALTER ECHO is a pretty good looking game. The environments are fairly large and straightforward; while they look to be open-ended, they are actually pretty linear in gameplay. The game being based on combat as it is, the animation for the combos look good and are very fluid. The game does have a glossy look to it, which is kind of strange at first, but it has something to do with everything being made of echoplast. The sound is also fairly good. Each enemy has its own sound, which is good because it cuts down on repetition. The voice-acting overall is pretty good, although Nevin's voice-over guy could use a few acting lessons.
In the end, ALTER ECHO is a pretty rock-hard game. While it is somewhat short, the game is action packed and the three-form combat modes add a lot to the game.