PS2 REVIEW: ALIAS

Alias is an ABC television show that has fallen in between the cracks. It's not hugely successful but it has its loyal fans - mainly those of the Britney Spears camp since it features an altogether unlikely female action hero. I admit to never having seen the show and I can't say I could ever force myself to watch it but something told me that this would make a good videogame. I was only partly right.

It appears that Alias has a back story rivaled only by an afternoon soap opera. If you're like me and don't have a clue what's going on you're missing out on some of the deeper aspects of the game - at least on a psychological level. As an action adventure game it's not bad by itself but to really appreciate all of the nuances of the game you should be familiar with all the characters and the past plot developments. I won't be catching up on past episodes anytime soon but maybe you'll be inspired to waste more of your precious youth in front of a screen if this game enthralls you.

You will be briefed about certain background events throughout the game but it's really too much to digest all at once. Suffice to say that Sydney Bristow is a good-looking dame that used to work for an evil agency but now she's working for the CIA - not that that would be much of a stretch for her. Cutting through a rather convoluted story of betrayal, espionage, murder and missing relatives returning to the scene, Sydney is on the trail of Anna Espinosa and her gang which are searching for the Rambaldi artifact.

Blending elements from Mission Impossible, Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid, fighting and shooting make up the best part of the gameplay. Stealth plays an important role but it's not as prominent in the gameplay as in Splinter Cell. Overall I would have to say that Alias does pale considerably in comparison to the above-mentioned games but it gives you an idea of what to expect.

Sydney can sneak about, press her back up against a wall and take an occasional peek to scope out the action. With a special attack move she can incapacitate a guard from around a corner by snapping his neck in different ways. Heat and night vision goggles allow you to work under cover of darkness. Sometimes you'll alert the guards and other times you can't seem to get a rise out of them regardless of what you do. You can run right up to some of them and they won't even know what hit them. Other guards seem to possess psychic powers as they can see you hiding on the other side of a crate. The AI is frustratingly inconsistent.

When you set off the alarm by being spotted by a guard or security camera the only way out is to fight. There are only a few buttons to use for kicks and punches and once again, you don't really know what you're going to get. It's all randomly generated. Quick attacks release standard punches and kicks while special attacks generate combo-style moves. Just about anything lying around can be used as a weapon including broomsticks and guns. You can't reload guns and have to throw them away after you use up all the ammo. Other weapons such as knives and sticks degrade over use so they're only good for a few good whacks.

The faces of the characters look amazing - but only in the screenshots. During the game with full animation they don't look as good. In fact they look kind of spooky since they're rendered so well, yet the less-than-perfect animation makes them seem like aliens wearing a mask. Voiceovers are performed by most of the actors from the series. Even this lost episode was written by one of the writers from the TV show.

I find Alias to be a simplified version of an action/stealth game. It's certainly better than most TV-to-videogame titles but it's really aimed at fans of the show that aren't hardcore gamers.

System: PS2
Dev: Acclaim / Buena Vista
Pub: Acclaim
Released: April 2004
Players: 1
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3
GRAPHICS
4
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
4
VALUE
1.5