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Alice: Madness Returns - A terribly underrated gem

#1SamusFarronPosted 12/25/2012 10:03:07 PM(edited)
For example....

- Excellent visual quality, especially on PC where for an UE3 game it surprisingly really manages to "wow" at times.

- Excellent artistic design and direction with a decaying, morbid, completely broken Wonderland being shown just as how you would like to imagine it. The very start of Chapter 2, the scene immediately in the distance, is so sinister, whimsical, and eerie it will likely burn into your brain.

- One of the best soundtracks around, IMO, matching and even surpassing the original 'Alice'. Chilling ambiance and quiet but threatening notes that then blend with thundering drums at all the right moments, really immersing you.

- Excellent voice acting. Alice herself is voiced superbly by Susie Brann, who also did the work for the first 'Alice' game. She brings the character of the books to life, only in a way you would expect her to be now that she is an adult. Ever questioning how illogical it all is with genuine inquisitiveness, infinitely proper and "British", aware and intelligent, all blended with just a touch of sarcastic bite. Some of the games best moments are when Alice waxes philosophical on some absurdity she just witnessed. Cheshire the cat remains excellently voiced as Alice's questionable and sinister sounding ally, speaking in rhymes and riddles that often infuriate Alice. The rest of the cast does a great job as well, all fitting their characters well and never feeling out of place. The recording quality itself is excellent, avoiding that "I'm clearly in a sound booth" tone and feel that many games have.

- Extremely tight controls make being Alice a total joy. Her capabilities on her feet and in the air in terms of getting around lend to the feeling that Wonderland is hers, and she can navigate it best.

- Solid platforming that while lacking in variety at times remains fun by being extremely solid and just challenging enough to hold interest without being frustrating.

- Simple, but varied and fluid combat. Atmospherically combat is a real treat; violent thrashes of the Vorpal Blade and thundering slams of the Hobby Horse mixed with the threatening snarls of a Colossal Ruin really lend a sense of impact. Plus, that combat theme is truly incredible in just how damn dramatically epic it is, while remaining fitting to the source material as well as the creepy nature of the game's take on that source material. Once Alice is fully equipped and upgraded, she is shockingly deadly and efficient to the point she even gives characters like Bayonetta and Kratos a run for their money.

- Collectables are actually.....well.....fun to collect. Unlike most games where finding those trinkets is a chore that few gamers bother with, 'Alice' manages to make them enjoyable to seek out. Never obscenely and annoyingly out of the way, but always enough off the beaten path to pique interest.

- The best hair in a videogame to date. Period. No game before and no game since has managed to make a characters hair look so natural and animate so absolutely flawlessly as Alice's. No clipping, no jerky movements or unnatural shifts. It hangs, blows, shifts, and in general just exists in an extremely natural and cool looking way.

- The story is incomprehensible and nonsense but within it lies a lot of very philosophical themes and ideas. But how absolutely perfect that is. Anyone who complains that the games story fails to make sense, or that it is too broken and confusing clearly have never read "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" or "Through the Looking Glass". Absolute nonsense laying on top of humanistic and worldly themes is what Alice is all about.
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#2SamusFarron(Topic Creator)Posted 12/25/2012 9:47:09 PM
A few cons do make their way in, to be fair....

- The game definitely had a notable amount of content cut due to pressure to release the game from EA before it was complete. The "Art of Alice: Madness Returns" coffee table book contains a lot of developer insight, and EA was really somewhat unpleasant in terms of letting the game naturally progress at a reasonable pace.

- The puzzle-platforming aspects become repetitive if you let them because only about 5-6 "varieties" of them exist. Luckily the solid platforming keeps them from becoming too tedious once they start cropping up for one too many times.

- Compared to the PC version, the console versions really kind of fall behind in overall immersion due to technical faults and limitations. But such is mostly expected these days with multi-plat games.

- Alice cannot attack mid-air, a frustrating limitation considering how lethal they tried to convey her in combat. Once more weapon would have been nice too, especially since at least a couple were shown in early trailers that never made it to the final version.

- The final level, Dollhouse, drags on quite long towards the end. But perhaps this is a tradeoff to smooth the transitions into the increasingly dark and horrible atmosphere that progresses as the level goes on.


And of those faults, I would say basically all of them are the result of EA forcing the game out the door far too early. If I remember correctly, they actually demanded the game be done before the initial agreed upon date. Leaving 'Spicy Horse' a very small window of time to make some serious decisions on content that needed to be completed right away. You can also make a safe bet that the DLC costumes were EA's mandate, as while I am speaking from the hip here that seems like something that American McGee would be against.

I have a lot of respect for American McGee. For one, he clearly loves the 'Alice' source material at least as much as I do, and I really appreciate that. While the guy has certainly had his stinkers (Bad Day L.A. is a pretty horrible game), he has always been an "outside the box" developer, not afraid to create something he loves despite knowing it may not appeal to everyone. And despite having poor games under his belt, he also has absolute classic gems - all of them relatively underrated - such as the original 'Alice', 'Alice: Madness Returns', and 'Scrapland'. Not to mention he has been heavily involved in a lot of really big titles outside of his own personal productions. We need more games like the ones he makes, to help spur videogames back into actually being fantasies and not realities.

American McGee has expressed serious interest in a third Alice game, or perhaps even episodic series, using a similar format to the first two and titled 'Alice in Otherland' - likely referencing where things headed for Alice after 'Madness Returns'. Apparently the story is written and the game is conceptually complete, but he is looking towards fans interest before proceeding. Write the guy a letter, tell him you want that game.

Contact him here....

http://www.americanmcgee.com/contacting-me/


And listen to this while you are doing so.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSnn-uo_Urw


Sorry for the really long ass post. Just got home a bit ago after being with family all day for Christmas, and started playing Alice again for the fourth time. Inspired me to remind people that it is a great game.
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#3SoliquidusPosted 12/25/2012 9:52:23 PM
Of the next 10 games I am buying, Alice is one of them. Looking for something a bit different, and I think Alice will fit the bill nicely. I just love Platformers in general as well and Alice seems to have some decent gameplay in that department. I especially like the Art Direction in the Game that I have seen. It is haunting and beautiful at the same time. I love that kind of contrast


Damn tho dude.......you really love this game. That is a pretty long love letter there
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#4The_MPerPosted 12/25/2012 9:56:28 PM
TLDR

Anyways yeah that game was/is fun especially if you collect all those memory objects, you get more information about the story. Also the voice acting and art format where pretty awesome.
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#5rumbalumbaPosted 12/25/2012 9:58:42 PM
it was terrible gameplay-wise.
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Everyone should play Ni No Kuni.
#6Bestia_SomniaPosted 12/25/2012 10:00:00 PM
The combat is pretty uninspired though. I can't remember which game it is, but there's an action game that literally has the same combat functions and weapon archetypes.
#7FuutonElementalPosted 12/25/2012 10:00:36 PM
[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]
#8A_Nonny_MoosePosted 12/25/2012 10:09:33 PM
From: SamusFarron | Posted: 12/26/2012 4:47:09 AM | #002
The game definitely had a notable amount of content cut due to pressure to release the game from EA before it was complete.

Seriously? Did they try to make up for it by stretching what was left 3x longer than intended? Because most levels really dragged.
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#9necro00Posted 12/25/2012 10:15:37 PM
I always wanted to try this, but not at full price. I just looked on Gamestop's site and best Buy and it seems like it will be hard to find this in store.
#10SamusFarron(Topic Creator)Posted 12/25/2012 10:16:55 PM
Soliquidus posted...
Of the next 10 games I am buying, Alice is one of them. Looking for something a bit different, and I think Alice will fit the bill nicely. I just love Platformers in general as well and Alice seems to have some decent gameplay in that department. I especially like the Art Direction in the Game that I have seen. It is haunting and beautiful at the same time. I love that kind of contrast


Damn tho dude.......you really love this game. That is a pretty long love letter there


Yes, I really do love the game. I appreciate it because it reminds me of what videogames are, for me personally anyway - something pouring with creativity, and something that I can't experience in real life or read about on the news.

I'm not slamming all games today of course, some amazing stuff still comes out. But it seems the vast majority of games today either feel "same old, same old" in terms of their story and artistic inspiration, or they are kind of.....trinkety, with concepts that last 20 minutes of fun and then fade away. Not to mention the vicious push into trying to emulate reality. Realistic graphics are fine, great actually, but just because the graphics are realistic doesn't mean the game and the world itself need to be. Love it or hate it, see FFXIII for example - aiming to be technically "realistic" graphically, yet set in a completely fictional and unrealistic world.

Emulating reality is a wonderful concept. But not every game needs to be about some nitty gritty reality of warfare......

For me it's really just a lack of variety in the big, fully developed titles. Indie games are often fantastic in terms of creativity, but unfortunately they don't receive the backing needed to fully realize what they are going for. Well....except Minecraft of course; pretty sure that guy could wipe his ass with $100 bills for the rest of his life if he wanted to, and more power to him for it IMO. While I personally don't enjoy Minecraft that much, I do indeed understand why 1/4 of the planet loves it.
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