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Altered Beast

Think puberty's traumatic? At least the fur doesn't fly out fast enough to rupture flesh and send bone searing through the air. Most people don't celebrate their voice breaking by chewing the head off the nearest bystander either - but then they're not in Altered Beast.

In a back-story ripped straight out of RoboCop, our hero falls under the scalpel of a shadowy scientific organisation after being killed in the line of duty - only to reawaken pumped full of body-modifying technology, designed to turn him into the ultimate fighting machine.

Unleash The Beast
Very early into the frenzied action, you'll receive your first transformation chip - one capable of twisting your physical form into a sharp-clawed, slathering werewolf. You'll collect more of these chips as you hack through the ferocious hordes stuffed into levels and defeat the massive bosses. Currently, you'll transform into a Werewolf, Dragon, Lizard, Yeti, Raptor, Minotaur and Grizzly Bear. All feature a basic combat move, agility move and special attack that you'll need to take full advantage of to progress through the hazardous locations.


In human form, you're virtually useless against the relentless droves of miscreants intent on disassembling you, limb by limb - all you've got are a couple of feeble punches and a manly leap. Switch to Raptor though and you'll morph into a towering mutant eagle, able to take to the skies, vomit devastating bolts or rip up the air with its wicked tornado special move. Similarly, as the Yeti, you can breathe ice, pick up massive rocks to chuck about, roll through stone barriers and pound the ground to raise flesh-piercing stalagmites.

Suck It Up
Once a transformation's complete, your Life Force starts depleting rapidly. You'll need to absorb energy from the corpses of your enemies to keep it stocked, ensuring your bloody rampage doesn't let up for a second. If it empties though, your science-ravaged tissue begins decomposing, eating into your health.

This means you'll either have to ramp up the slaughter or risk leaving yourself exposed by returning to human form. Even then though, you're still at risk - as your flesh deteriorates, your health continues to ebb away and you can't make any further transformations until it's restored. It's clever, ensuring the tension stays taut.

The game's still in the early stages at the moment and it's difficult to know how well the beast-morphing trickery's going to meld into the overall action and level design - we're hoping your different forms will open up all sorts of possibilities when it comes to interacting with the environments. Judging by what we've seen so far though, Altered Beast is promising plenty of bloody, button-mashing old-skool carnage, and we can't wait to sink our claws into it further.

The verdict

There are ingenious puzzle elements alongside the relentless limb shredding. It's early days yet, but we're excited about Sega's classic claret-drenched series.

PlayStation 2