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Publisher: ABC    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: 10.1    CPU: G3 @ 500 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 100 MB

Alias: Underground
February 24, 2003 | Eddie Park

Graphics: Everybody do the Robot
Alias is not a bad-looking game if one takes into account its low, low price. The backgrounds for each stage are surprisingly well detailed, with the Turkish Embassy level sporting floors of varying patterns, elegant chandeliers, and vaulted ceilings. People, on the other hand, come across as considerably less-detailed. While adequate, each person seems doomed to wear whatever everyone else is wearing. Facial features are most definitely drawn on, and polygon edges are in evidence.

The animation, unfortunately, also seems to have suffered. Everyone, including Sydney, moves with a jerky gait that is far from smooth. In addition, Sydney's animations are quite limited. Beside the previously mentioned one punch/one kick motions, she also jumps stiffly, crawls stiffly, and basically moves like a robot. In short, those looking for slinky moves are going to be sorely disappointed.

On the adjustability front, Alias does have some nice options, chief among which is the ability to run smoothly in windowed mode. The options to adjust resolution (up to 1024x768), and texture detail, quality, and filters are also available.

Besides the occasional flicker, I didn't experience any major graphical flaws or glitches in Alias. As far as the power needed to run Alias, I'm pretty confident that practically any Power Mac that can run OS X should be able to run Alias.

Sound: Tchaikovsky it isn't
Alias features a lot of voice. More to the point, Alias features one voice in particular. While I don't know his name, he acts as the information source, mission objective reminder, and chattering nanny for Sydney, leading me to believe he's the generic "computer whiz who provides support" sidekick. It seems reasonable to assume that the actor who plays this role in the show also provides voice for the game, given the excellent voice acting.

Other than the computer guy's voice, however, Alias is largely devoid of sound. While there's an option to turn on/off ambient sound, the only ambient sound I heard was when I caused it to happen, such as accessing a computer or opening a door. Sydney herself seems limited to grunts, and the people around her can't even manage that.

The background music for each stage is largely horrible, with repetitive themes that aren't even remotely fun to hear. Even more unfortunate is the fact that you can't turn it off without disabling sound entirely, meaning that it's all or nothing when it comes to audio.

Conclusion: You get what you pay for
Alias, on the whole, is supremely average, with fair graphics, mediocre sound, and resoundingly average gameplay. Nothing is done particularly badly. However, nothing is done particularly well either.

The sheer mediocrity of Alias is countered by the fact that the game is completely free of charge. Not only that, but more levels are being created even as you read this review, with the final mission being released this May. Granted, the missions may continue to taste like vanilla, but at least they're coming.

Alias strikes me as a game targeted specifically towards fans of the TV show. Those fans may enjoy watching Sydney accomplish missions and interact with other characters from the show in the form of a game, which means that even an average game, especially one free of charge, should be enough to warrant at least one playthrough of each mission. Which means, of course, ABC gets to bombard players with more Nokia and Ford ads.

Non fans, however, are advised to shy away from this one. If the temptation of a free download, no matter how bland, is too much to resist, then by all means give it a whirl. It may keep your interest for a few minutes.

Alias: Underground
Developer: Dream Mechanics
Download Alias: Underground Demo


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