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Archive for June, 2011

Madness Returns

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

So, those of you who know me (or just read this blog even), know I’ve been looking forward to the sequel to American McGee’s Alice for … well, since the first game.  But I only became aware that they were actually making it a year or two ago.  If you think my Wonderland obsessed self hasn’t played through it by now you should know better.

Alice: Madness Returns is everything I wanted the game to be.  It’s a phenomenal sequel.  It stays very true to the original, taking a lot of notes from the original designs and levels, but strikes out into its own territory.  It improves on the original game in terms of gameplay and expands the world and story set down previously.  It’s basically everything you loved about American McGee’s Alice but with improved graphics and gameplay.

Now, while the graphics definitely were a step up they still retained a lot of the same styling and look of the original game, and working with the Unreal engine the overall look and feel hasn’t changed much.

Gameplay wise, the combat has been massively upgraded and is a lot more fun and visually exciting than the first game.  Cutting down the number of weapons from 10 to 4 makes alternating between them much easier and streamlined and thus better combat.  Interestingly enough there aren’t any boss battles.  In McGee’s Alice every world ended in a big boss battle with one of Wonderland’s iconic characters:  the Dutchess, the Mad Hatter, the Jabberwocky, the Queen of Hearts, etc.  In Madness Returns, each world has a very difficult arena battle before meeting the boss and then dialogue happens and story progresses, but there aren’t boss battles.

Which kinda surprised me.  There were more than a few threads that were left hanging:  characters which I wasn’t sure what happened to after their “defeat.”  And as the game progressed, I became increasingly unsure what was “real” what was “wonderland” and what were “memories.”  I think that was intentional, especially considering the ending, but a little bit of clarity would have been appreciated.  I also missed some characters.  While many of the old characters and villains returned there were a few I didn’t see: namely the Jabberwocky and the White Rabbit.  Ok, I saw the white rabbit, but not in story context.  I get the lack of the Jabberwocky, he was the big baddie in the first game and you killed him pretty dead, so I get that.

Speaking of the ending:  thank you.  For once a game/movie that has an ending that is satisfying enough to be a stand-alone ending but open enough to invite a sequel.  I’m very sick of games/movies that just stop in the middle of a WTF moment (I’m looking at you Assassin’s Creed you amazing game you) because they’re swinging for a trilogy.  I’d love to see EA and Spicey Horse come back for two more games after Madness Returns, but if it doesn’t happen this game stands on its own.  The madness is back in spades.