I don't know where to start in my review. The Lewis Carroll book, the Disney movie, or the original American McGee game that I bought and never got to play because my computer was a piece of junk. Let's start with all 3. Everyone has had some kind of experience with wonderland, though the game went rather overlooked. After playing the original years later, I can safely say it's a shame that it didn't get the recognition it deserved. However after 11 years. BOOM! A sequel is released, this time on consoles as well as PC. My review will be on the, shock and awe, 360 version! Anyways let's break this down!
This is a review of Alice: Madness Returns and does not include American McGee's Alice
***disclaimer: I use the word gorgeous a lot, as it's the only word that does this game justice***
Holy hell, I can name very few games that can top Alice in this regards. A psychological thriller, the game will pull you in, chew you up and spit you out, and you will beg for more.
You play as the titular Alice, a young lady with severe psychological disorders and mental trauma as she lost her family in a fire when she was young. Or do you? You play as the titular Alice, a young lady whose world is being destroyed, demolished and deconstructed by a train straight out of hell. Actually you play as both, and both are the same person, the latter is a hallucination the former uses as a defense mechanism. The events that take her into wonderland are usually based on what she experiences in the real world, and while a lot of what characters such as the Mad Hatter or Queen of Hearts say don't make sense, at the end everything is tied together and you learn some chilling details about what really happened in the fire. I really don't want to spoil any of the story, as it is no short of amazing. In fact, even without the original boosting this ones story, it easily gets a 5/5.
The game play is nothing we haven't seen before, but it's also stuff that works. Platforming is good, no problems here besides the camera suddenly deciding Alice's striped socks are far more interesting then knowing where you're supposed to jump. Hidden platforms are fairy common, and can be found using "shrink sense" a technique that shrinks Alice, allowing her to enter small keyholes and find platforms that were previously invisible to unlock hidden goodies. Again, nothing wrong here aside from camera angles.
Combat is nothing spectacular, but as with platforming there's nothing wrong with it either. Vorpal blade for quick melee attacks, hobby horse for heavier guard breaking ones. Rapid fire pepper grinder, mortar launching tea kettle. Enemies are another strong suit. from the silly looking ruins, to the slightly creepier babies, the games rogue's gallery feels complete and quite frankly awesome. Not an impressive arsenal, but enough to give the game enough variety for multiple play-throughs.
Puzzles are where the game unfortunately falls a bit short. Most are interesting the first time through, but become severely less interesting upon doing them for the 10th time.
Overall game play isn't bad, isn't good, just average. Leaning towards the better though. 3.5/5
Graphics and Design: 4/5
One of the most beautiful games you'll ever lay eyes on. Usually. The game still suffers from some texture loading bugs, which can really ruin some of the splendor of seeing a gorgeous character design, exploring gorgeous worlds with gorgeous effects. At it's best the game gets an easy 5/5. But due to me having to play through the first two chapters with an Alice that wouldn't properly load any of her character model. 4/5
Music, Voices and Sound: 5/5
Beautiful landscape needs beautiful music, and Alice does not disappoint! The music fits every area perfectly, and the battle music fits so well, it melts in seamlessly. Voice acting is terrific, Alice instantly became a character I wanted to succeed, the voice work is emotion filled and perfect. I almost teared up when hearing Alice reminisce on the horrors of her past, partially because the voice acting was so good, I could feel the fear and sorrow. Sound effects are great, I can still here the whistling of the tea pot, the taka taka of the pepper grinder and the swish of the vorpal blade and neigh of the hobby horse. 5/5
So far all it is is some dresses and weapons, but the weapons all have cool new effects and graphical changes and the dresses all look amazingly gorgeous! Worth a purchase if you love the game, but otherwise they're a pass.
Story-wise, this is the only game that comes close to competing with Deadly Premonition for me. Game play could have been better, but it works. This game is an amazing addition to any collection and I'd recommend it to any gamer. Go in expecting to be blown away by story and visuals, but don't expect the most explosive combat.
(Since TA doesn't have decimals, I'm forced to round up and give this game a 5)