Alias is one of those rare TV shows that treads a delicate line between melodramatic soap opera and over-the-top action-thriller: Guys and gals can both watch it...even if they’re secretly a little embarrassed (like me). Fellow fans of ABC’s guilty pleasure will be thrilled that Acclaim lined up nearly all of the voice talent (and the show’s composer) for this game—hearing the real voices lends the game startling legitimacy. Likewise, Agent Bristow’s supersexy in-game disguises and cool op-tech gizmos wouldn’t be out of place on the show. Unfortunately, Alias completely fails to impress from a gameplay standpoint. The concept is fine—you explore massive levels looking for intel, utilizing all manner of cool spy doohickeys to avoid detection. Disaster hits, though, when you actually attempt to be stealthy. With no Metal Gear-style radar or Splinter Cell-ish shadow meter, it’s impossible to discern if you’re visible...and you usually are. So missions degrade into mindless, clunky combat, in which imprecise fisticuffs and useless, fragile weapons abound. Don’t bother.
I don’t watch the spy show Alias, but I’m willing to bet it’s a whole lot more action-packed than this game. Janky fighting, opt-out stealth segments (it’s easier to run past guards than sneak), and dim-witted missions wouldn’t go down well with the Nielsens, and they don’t with me. There is one little redeeming factor, though: The game has way more save points than you could possibly need. It’s as if the designers knew the game was kinda lame and added those in so it wouldn’t be both lame and annoying.
To my great shock, Alias the game manages to successfully capture the feel of Alias the TV show. Almost all of the principle characters appear, mission locations and situations could have been lifted right from the show, the plot and script are well written, and even the voice acting is spot on...right down to Marshall’s pointless rambling. Sadly, the combat is completely fouled up—Sydney kicking ass in a fluid, ballet-like manner is one of the biggest draws of the show, but in the game her herky-jerky, button-mashing kung fu is the biggest repellent.
If you're a fan of the show, you'll be a fan of the game ' maybe. Alias is much like many of its weak sister, TV-show knockoffs. A hastily designed game built around the images and sounds of a popular program in the hopes that rapid fans will forgive the almost complete lack of enjoyable gameplay. But unlike many other TV-show games, at least Alias tries and for fans I'm sure that will be enough.
Alias functions as a basic stealth action game as you take on the roll of Sydney Bristow in an attempt to unravel a secret plot to do something nefarious by a bunch of bad guys. You'll spend much of your time accomplishing a series of painful easy tasks as you sneak into the enemy lair, get geared up and try to find the heart of the problem.
The game has a stealth mode button that lets you tiptoe around bad guys. The other buttons are dedicated to an attack and special attack and an action function which does things like open doors or pick up dropped weapons. The combat oscillates between overly simplistic and painfully frustrating. You basically need to punch your buttons as quickly as possible and hope the bad guy actually responds to what appears to be well-placed hits. Sometimes they don't and instead whale on you with heavy tools or pepper you with short bursts of gunfire ' it's quite a challenge to die in this game because no matter how bad of a beating you're getting, they always back away after a few seconds.
Another annoying element of the game is no matter how important the task, where enemies are or what kind of hurry you are in, Bristow walks slowly and elegantly up and down stairs. It's very frustrating. Luckily the bad game mechanics do little to prevent you from beating the game, since the play is so easy. I'm not exaggerating ' as I write this my 2-year-old son is managing to work his way through the game with absolutely no help from me.
Despite the horrendous gameplay and a constant stream of in-game messages that lead you by the nose through the plot, Alias does have relatively good graphics and sound. Bristow, for the most part, looks just like Jennifer Garner's character as do the rest of the Alias cast who appear in the game. In addition, the voices of most of the cast are used for the game as well.
Gaming fans will absolutely hate Alias, seeing through its nearly transparent plot and shoddy gameplay in an instant, but fans of the show will likely enjoy the chance to take on the roll of their favorite character even if it's in a bad game.