Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: Alice: Madness Returns

I loved American Mcgee's Alice and were overly hyped about Alice Madness Returns. The more I saw of it the more I loved it and I went in with really high hopes as soon as I pushed it into my PS3 on the European release date.

Alice: Madness Returns - Reviewed by: Anna Råberg
Developed by Spicey Horse
Published by Electronic Arts

Alice Madness Returns picks up where American Mcgee's Alice left. Our protagonist, Alice, is now meeting a psychiatrist that focus his therapy at forgetting the bad memories. Soon however Alice once again returns to her broken wonderland as she sense that something is wrong and that, perhaps her families death weren't an accident.

I loved the story of Alice Madness Returns. It were just as, if not more, amazing than in American Mcgee's Alice. It introduced some new plot points also that at first didn't seem to ad up with what we were told in the first game but later makes a whole lot of sense. The characters are pretty much the same. We have Alice, our cold hearted and guilt ridden heroin and as always Cheshire Cat is there to give us helpful tips. Most of the characters from the first game are here as well as a few new. The design are very interesting to look upon and gives us a nice touch of Alice “twisted wonderland.”

The game play is pretty neat. You move Alice with the left control stick and change the camera with the right. The face buttons will fill up with commandos for your different weapons as the game proceeds. The only time I had a problem with the camera were when Alice jumped onto clouds of steam. Sometimes the camera angle changed itself into a complete different position, resulting in Alice falling to her death. It should be added that the game at one point has an interesting two dimensional part, where you move like old sidescroller games.

It's really interesting at first but there are some minor issues when moving Alice, as she sometimes gets stuck into the ground. Thankfully, you only have to jump to get out that. The game also has a shrinking function. As you tap a button, Alice becomes smaller and this is where you can see platforms that were invisible to your eye when you were big. It works really well and is a good way to add more difficulty to some puzzles.

Speaking of the puzzles, I have to say that sometimes the creators seems to have gotten a little over creative. I appreciate a tricky puzzle and most of the ones that appeared in the game were good and well developed. However, at some points, they were just cruel, giving you to little time to reach your goal or not offering you any tip at all. I sometimes got stuck at the puzzles just to realize that it were simply not a puzzle at all or that I had been doing it backwards; frustrated that I hadn't gotten any directions on what to do to begin with.

The combat runs very smoothly. For most of the time you'll stick with your trusty blade but later on one discovers how good the weapons works with each other. Each enemy also gives you the opportunity to be creative on how to beat them. This game does not posses as man weapons as the last one did, if you didn't download the extra content. I wouldn't say that this is bad, even with less weapons you'll find that you're able to get used to the one's you got a lot faster than you were in American Mcgee's Alice.

The graphics are nice but not as good as it could have been. Most of the characters have a very special appearance and this is mostly thanks to the style that the game makers chose. It should be mentioned that Alice Madness Returns suffers from graphical glitches many times. This destroys the mod a whole lot and makes you feel that you really didn't pay for a finished product. It's mostly character models that suffers from this, specially Alice. Sometimes her hair will live a life of it's own, going both trough her neck and her face. The music is very soft and have a different appearance depending on what level you play. I say that it's work of genius and really gets you into the game. Most of the tunes are fairly soft and will only change into a fast phase when you go into combat.

Alice Madness Returns have some replay value. There's a lot of collectables that you want to obtain so that you further can understand the story and the characters in it. Also, playing with all the dresses unlocked gives you new abilities in the game and playing from the beginning with all your upgraded weapons makes it kind of fun.

Alice Madness Returns is all I could ask for. It's a creepy and well told story with many colourful characters. I almost dare to say I wish for another Alice game. However the graphical glitches destroyed most of the experience for me and I were left a little saddened at this fact, as I had expected more. I suggest that all platform as well as horror gamers plays this. It doesn't even require that you've played American Mcgee's Alice. You'll probably enjoy the game just as much.

Story: 9/10 Gameplay: 8/10 Controls: 7/10 Replay Value: 7.5/10 Visuals: 7.5/10 Audio: 8/10
Total Score 8/10.0 - Amazingly Fantastic
Recommendation: Buy This Game

Play Info: Anna played Alice MR on PLAYSTATION 3 for about 17 hours total.
First campaign playthrough took about 11 hours. Anna finished the game twice.

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