Following the success of American McGee’s Alice on the PC by Rogue Entertainment, a sequel that continues Alice’s journey in Wonderland and her struggle to cope with her parents’ deaths is finally here for PC and consoles. The release of the original game on the PC brought Lewis Caroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland to life. Turning the happy Alice we once knew into a depressed and morbid character, American McGee’s Alice and Madness Returns give Alice a dramatic character makeover. In Alice: Madness Returns by Spice Horse, players will embark on another adventure in Wonderland, meeting new characters and encountering new challenges along the way.
For console owners who haven’t had a chance to play the first game on the PC, the newly boxed Alice: Madness Returns will have a voucher code that will allow players to download the full game and play it on the console. Now, the question is, should players purchase Alice: Madness Returns? Let’s take a look in the HOTs and NOTs of the game.
Welcome Back to Wonderland
Alice: Madness Returns takes place eleven years after the conclusion of the first game. At the end of the original game, Alice was released from Rutledge’s Insane Asylum and began living in Victorian London. The memories of her parents’ deaths still haunt her, and she becomes obsessed with learning how they died. While trying to uncover the secrets from the night of the house fire, Alice falls into Wonderland again. But the Wonderland she once knew is back to its twisted form, and Cheshire the Cat must guide her in this new adventure.
Eleven years after the release of the original game, Madness Returns definitely improves in graphics. From blocky and undefined characters in the original game, Alice and the characters in Madness Returns look a lot more polished. Cheshire the Cat, Alice, and the Mad Hatter were given a makeover, so expect them to be detailed and looking good. If you cherished the art of Wonderland in the first game, Madness Returns’ environments are crisper and highly detailed in their design. Some of the areas that players are dark, gloomy ones but others are vibrant, so there is a good balance between environments. Thanks to the amazing soundtrack and voice-overs, Madness Returns feels more believable when it comes to its storytelling. The game has an amazing story and without the phenomenal voices, the game would lose some of its narrative force.
Improved Battle System
The battle system of the first game was somehow bland and one-dimensional. In Madness Returns, one of the biggest improvements was to the battle system. Instead of a single attack that Alice does with her knife, she can now unleash a continuous stream of combos. To make the fighting a lot easier, players are now able to lock onto a target by pressing the shoulder buttons. Whenever Alice is fighting an enemy and the target is locked, the camera will then focus on both of them, allowing players to see the action.
When it comes to the weapons that Alice can use, they are quite unique. The default weapon that Alice can use is her knife but as she ventures through the Wonderland, she’ll be able to find more interesting weapons that she can use such as the Pepper Grinder and the Madhatter’s time bomb. Another hidden power of Alice that will be beneficial for her is Hysteria. As soon as Alice reaches to a point where she has one life left, players can turn into Hysteria mode where Alice goes berserk for a couple seconds. Being on Hysteria gives Alice a double boost her stats and she becomes invisible.
Play American McGee’s Alice
Included with every copy of Alice: Madness Returns is a voucher code that allows player to download the original game for free. The full original game is remastered, in HD giving players a new set of achievements and trophies to collect. For now, the original game can only be played via the Madness Returns disc, but a standalone version of the game will be made available on the marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points or $9.99.
Lots of Collectibles
Madness Returns will give players a reason to go back and play the game after finishing it. In the vast six chapters of the game, players will have the option to collect a lot of stuff. To fully understand the story, players can collect all of Alice’s memories in Wonderland to learn more about her. If that is not enough, they can collect teeth that are scattered throughout the game and use them to upgrade weapons. Remember, players who are aiming for full completion of the game must collect everything. Players can keep track of their collectibles from the main menu.
In the six chapters of the game, players can expect at least nine hours of gameplay. However, that doesn’t include trying to collect everything. Each chapter is big and it should take you a while to finish them, especially if you are hunting for collectibles.
Jump Here, Jump There
The problems with Madness Returns are the same ones from the original game. From the first chapter until the very end, players will be doing a lot of jumping and repetitive tasks. The game is very straightforward, which some players may find boring. It may look like Rogue Entertainment tries to add new things, but the overall platforming and repetitive tasks remain the same.
Although the battle system in Madness Returns got a total overhaul, in the end it fails to deliver exciting combat. Using Alice’s trusty knife, players will press one button repeatedly throughout the game. For those who are expecting action like in Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry, where combat involves pressing more than one button to execute an attack, they will not find it in Madness Returns. What makes it so disappointing is that the game lacks a variety of combos.
Minor Graphical Glitches
While Madness Returns may look phenomenally impressive in terms of visuals, the graphics are marred by repeated glitches. No matter if the player installs the data on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, there are still glitches to see in the game. Frequent pop-ins and character overlapping are too obvious to overlook. The problem that I found is minor, but it’s worth mentioning for anyone who is picky about graphics.
Alice: Madness Returns is an impressive game that fans of the first game will surely appreciate. Since console owners didn’t have a chance to play the original, purchasing Madness Returns will allow them to enter the world of Wonderland by Spicy Horse, and the free copy of American’s McGee Alice is a bonus. Despite the minor glitches and the repetitive platforming action, it does a great job of telling a well-crafted story and letting players experience the dark world of Wonderland. Whether or not you played the first game, playing Alice: Madness Returns will be at least enjoyable if you get past the repetitive platforming aspect of the game. I would appreciate it if Spicy Horse focused more on gameplay, as it gets dull overtime, instead of the story.
[Editor’s Note: Alice: Madness Returns was reviewed on the Xbox 360 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Alice: Madness Returns Review,