Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Alice: The Madness Returns-review

This scene certainly is inviting.
Many folks who know me will know that I love the computer game “American McGee’s Alice”.  It took a time loved story and gave it a dark twist as we ventured deeper into the character, Alice’s mental problems facing the death of her family after a tragic fire.  Her only refuge is to regress mentally back into Wonderland which is no longer the whimsical place she knew as a child but is now more evil and primal than ever.  The art style and game play was a wonderful for 2000 and it still remains one of my favorite games of all time.

Yesterday a sequel came out and I gave it a shot.  After a problem with the disc that required me to get a replacement I finally got it running. So far I am incredibly impressed.  First off the look of the game coming from 2000 to 2011 has improved immensely.  The art style is nothing short of eye-popping.  Both vivid and amazing, it shows a lot of detail as scene goes between Wonderland and Whitechapel in London.  It looks smooth and the cut scenes are fun.  The music is still haunting and appropriate for where you are in the level.  The game play is a lot better.  Changing it from a keyboard control to a console control makes it a hundred times easier to combat enemies that are much harder and use way more gang tactics than the original game.

It's on like Donkey Kong.
            If there is a flaw so far it’s that the game can be maddeningly difficult at times.  There are times when in a platform game it’s all about timing and if it’s not precise you are screwed.  The other problem is getting ganged up on by a dozen or more creatures of various types.  The problem with this is that often certain creatures have a very particular weakness that require a level of focus that is damn difficult to give when getting a beat down by other goons.  The weapons choice has been interesting and fun so far.  Though for some items I would have preferred simpler one button commands as opposed to hit L1 and X to perform a block.  

Fee Fie Foe Fards! I smell a group of humanoid cards.
Still, it’s a fun and very playable game.  The best part is that it even comes with a free download of the original game as a console port.  This is an awesome add on.  Now keep in mind that the original does have primitive graphics compared to its sequel but it at least it got transferred into HD and the controller is a lot easier to maintain control of a person than the keyboard. So it improved on the original only a touch to make it work.

            All in all “Alice: The Madness Returns” is a great game.  Plus you get much more than you bargain for with the original game as well.  It’s a very worthwhile  purchase and I recommend it to anyone who might be in the mood for a more adult take on the Alice in Wonderland story.  It shows style and heart which we’ve come to expect from American McGee.  If you give it a try let me know what you think.  Frankly, I think this is the story that Tim Burton SHOULD have made into a movie if Disney hadn’t turned it into “Narnia” rip-off.

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