E3 2006: Alex Rider: Stormbreaker


Oct 5, 2004
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E3 2006: Alex Rider: Stormbreaker
Hands on with THQ's adventure for the Nintendo DS.
by Alex Vo


May 10, 2006 - In case you were fooled by the title, no, this isn't some snowboarding-wakeboarding fusion extreme game. Instead, it's about a boy named Alex Rider, your average teenager concerned with girls, school, music, and international subterfuge and espionage. His adventures as literature's youngest international spy are chronicled in a series of young adult books, which is now being brought to the silver screen of your local theater, and the three-inch screen of your DS this fall.

The game doesn't open with Alex, though. Instead, we're introduced to Ian Rider, uncle of Alex, marooned inside a mansion filled with guards. Fans of the books know he won't make it out of the country. But, hey, we might as well try right? The camera revolves around Ian before settling behind him and relinquishing control to the player. Ian's a slow walker until the R trigger is held down, putting him into a mad dash. Running drains a green stamina bar in the left hand corner and if completely depleted, Ian stops to put his hands on his knees and waits to regain his breath. Really, though, only the most careless spy would reduce himself to that condition: stamina refills rapidly as you stand still and walk around.

After a minute or so of exploring, the player encounters the first guard, situated at the end of an opulent hallway. Once Ian's spotted, the Caution Gauge appears in the corner, ticking up several times per second. It's game over if it reaches 100%, so for the sake of world security, all enemies in the area have to be disposed of rather swiftly. Ian's free of weapons so said world security rests squarely on his punches and kicks, executed with the X and Y buttons. They can be strung together for a variety of combos, though the fancier the moves, the more it leeches out of the stamina bar. Ian blocks with the B button, a very important maneuver because those standard-issue spy trousers and a tucked-in shirt he's wearing just don't stop bullets like they used to.

Stealth is subtly integrated into the game. Beyond the hallway guard is a courtyard filled with more guards and Ian has to utilize the boxes piled up around the area to avoid detection. Holding the L trigger and d-pad revolves the camera around, allowing Ian to peek around corners. Arguably, avoiding detection has greater significance than in most stealth guards since guards can knock out half a life bar in seconds. Fighting two one after the other spells death.

The level ends when Ian exits the courtyard, which suddenly throws him into a motorcycle stage. Imagine Road Rash but without the awesome. As perplexing as it is that we haven't had a chain-whipping motorcycle violence game in years, Ian Rider's ride is hardly exciting. Enemies fall over with only one or two boot kicks and the road completely lacks any turns. Do the motorcycle segments get more exciting than grandma's Sunday drives? Will Alex succeed in avenging Ian's death? Finding that out at E3 is mission impossible: the demo always crashes after three road checkpoints. We could use a hero here, indeed.


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