These days, the term "movie license" almost invariably sends gamers into a fit of depression. So often we see our favorite heroes of the silver screen turned into absolutely crappy games. It often, and improbably, manages to get even worse when dealing with TV shows that wind up as games. However, Acclaim has big plans for their newest license, Alias, based on the hit TV show starring Sydney, a.k.a. Jennifer Garner. Alias is a third person beat-em-up with lots of hand to hand combat, stealth, and puzzle solving, just like the show, and like the show, there will be a heavy back story as well.
Alias is a single-player action adventure game that will have players jetting all over the globe through six multi-part missions set in exotic locales such as Rio De Janeiro, Hong Kong, Romania, Monte Carlo and Saudi Arabia. Sydney will find that no matter where she goes, she's going to find trouble. In preparation of this inevitability, Acclaim has worked out a rather innovative camera system. Whenever Sydney hits a switch that opens a door, the screen splits into a 2/3 view of Sydney and her immediate surrounding and a 1/3 view of whatever may be up ahead. She can also back up against a door when opening it so she can peek through instead of just barging in. In fact, stealth will play a large role in Alias, as there are several ways for Sydney to sneak around in the shadows and dispatch enemies. She can maneuver while in a crouch and spring up to snap the neck of an unsuspecting guard, or drop down from a second story ledge, grab a guard's head between her legs and twist it right off, or simply use his own weapon to choke him to death.
When not engaging in stealth combat, Sydney still has a plethora of moves at her disposal. Acclaim motion-captured over 1,000 moves for Alias, allowing Sydney to perform various combo attacks, as well as different throws, counters and disarms. If a simple counter won't work, all one needs to do is pick up a lead pipe or wooden chair to do the wet work, since much of the environment in Alias is interactive. Whenever you use an item from the environment, however, it will eventually break after so many hits, preventing players from relying on the same piece of steel throughout an entire level.
When you're not busy snapping necks or beating people over the head with wrenches, you can take time out to talk to one of the several NPCs in the game. Throughout different parts of the level you will find several characters that may be able to provide you information. Beware you don't piss them off, however, as they may want to dish out some pain of their own. Of course, no brutal thug could hit a beautiful woman in a hot pink micro mini-skirt, which is why Alias will employ a dozen different costumes for Sydney to choose from, ranging from your typical spy gear to the aforementioned super mini-skirt. The outfits will even play a minor role in certain aspects of the gameplay; for instance, during one level Sydney will have to play the part of a cocktail waitress so she can slip a few bad guys a Mickey.
Fans of the television show who are familiar with Alias' quality, upbeat soundtrack shouldn't be disappointed with the in-game music, as the soundtrack is being composed by Michael Giacchino of Medal of Honor fame. The soundtrack in the game will take the same cinematic approach as the music in the Medal of Honor series, which should serve it well.
While licensed games certainly have a spotty and often-shameful history, Alias could actually end up being one licensed game that doesn't end up as complete garbage. The game is currently scheduled for a fall 2003 release, so look for more information on Alias as it becomes available.
7/22/2003 Ryan Hartmann