The original American McGee’s Alice came out back in October 2000 for the PC. While I never really played much of the first one (Sorry, keyboards make lousy controllers), I liked the concept and the artwork behind it. So when the sequel came out for home consoles, I was really on board for the sequel. After playing it, I have to gotten some really mixed results.
The story of Alice takes after the last game. Alice, still a work in progress as far as her sanity goes, finds herself fading suddenly between reality and Wonderland, and has no idea why. On top of this, a black goo known as Ruin is infecting Wonderland, and slowly destroying it. You control Alice as she not only fights to save Wonderland, but her own psyche as well.
The game and story is very artsy, with a double meaning behind just about everything. Wonderland is a symbol of Alice’s mind, the Ruin is a symbol of Alice’s lost sanity, and the struggle to save Wonderland is Alice’s struggle to save herself. I personally love a story that makes you think like this, but some maybe turned away.
Speaking of the story, it will be very hard to follow if you haven’t played the first game; as events and characters from the first game do play a large part in the overall story. EA however pretty much countered this critique by including a voucher that gives you the entire first game for free, so your getting two complete games for the price of one here.
The combat on this game is excellent in many ways. The weapons are ingenious and fit the Wonderland motif perfectly. Switching from weapon to weapon is seamless, with just a push of a button you not only switch weapons but attack as well. The combat was my favorite part of the game; very quick and figuring out how to defeat the enemies were puzzles in and of themselves.
However, this game is platformer, and to its credit, it does a fine job. The platforms take some great timing to get, and there are plenty of secret paths and items to collect. The platforms are very challenging, though at times they cross the line between challenging and frustrating.
Finally, I can’t talk up the art and look of this game enough. Every level is an interesting site to behold; from Mad Hatter’s evil factory to the Queen of Hearts lair is amazing. The character designs in here are so unique and direction is so innovative, that alone makes it worth a rental in my eyes.
The game isn’t all peaches and creme. First off, the camera is not your friend in this game. While you do have control for the most part, the camera has a tendency to get bossy during jumps. I’ve died so many times in this game from the camera suddenly turning 180 degrees during this one difficult jump. Trust me, that isn’t the only time the camera switched on me.
There are also a few annoying glitches that will tick you off too. For instance, there was this one particular platform puzzle in Chapter 4; one of those “Get from Point A to Point B before the door closes” deals. Oftens times I would just miss it, with the door closing in my face. When that happens, there is no way to get back to Point A, so I killed myself thinking it would restart the puzzle. The game however brought me back to Point B instead, so I was trapped. With no choice, I had to restart the level all over again. I to do this many times, and this took the fun right out of the game.
The music is nothing impressive either; in fact its kind of non existent. The voice work is very good, with a script you rarely hear in video games.
For the most part, I enjoyed Alice The Madness Returns. The combat was rich, the art made the game a sight to behold, and the dark story and presentation fantastic. However, its a shame that the music couldn’t live up to the same standard. Also, its a shame the QA team for this game missed some really big glitches that made this game not fun in a hurry. Despite this, I would recommend people at least try this game. Heck, I’m considering buying it. The game overall is a fun experience, but the glitches take a lot away. I would definitely give it a rental before buying.
FINAL GRADE: B-