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Alice: Madness Returns PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 8.5
Sound 8.0
Value 8.1
Developers: EA
Review Date:
June 2011
Rating: MA15+
Andrew Bistak


Alice: Madness Returns

It seems that 2011 is the year for classic old school sequels and after the highly anticipated release of Duke Nukem Forever which we thoroughly enjoyed, it's time for Alice to return. For those that don't know Alice, it was a third-person action game released in 2000 for the PC. It was based on the amazing re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland, thanks to American McGee which saw our heroine admitted to Rutledge Asylum due to the horrible death of her family. To escape the pain, she was once again drawn into Wonderland which was flawlessly recreated on the PC and created a truly captivating game.

Ten years later and here we are again with players once against controlling the delightful Alice as she returns to Wonderland. Without spoiling the story, Alice is almost rehabilitated and as she walks the streets of Victorian London, she is unwittingly drawn back into Wonderland. Things have definitely changed since her last stay and this time, her journey is personal and the deeper she delves into Wonderland, the more clues she will discover about her family's death. It's definitely an existentialist journey into the psychedelic realm of one girl and her interpretation of Wonderland.

Given that, Alice is not your average gaming character as this poor girl has been institutionalised for part of her life since her house burnt down and her parents were killed. But as they say, payback is a B**CH and Alice does the only thing she knows how, by grabbing her mystical Vorpel blade and slaying all those who stand in her way. What I do like about the story is that just as Alice is kept in the dark about her past, so is the player as the game slowly unveils certain memories to piece together her life. This is done by finding certain objects in the gaming world which are littered throughout. 

So what exactly is Alice: Madness Returns. In simplistic terms, Alice: Madness Returns is a modern arcade platformer that requires Alice to engage in a variety of quests, jump around and engage in a never ending hoard of enemies. Just like the original, the game contains plenty of puzzles to solve and strange twisted environments to explore from air vents to levers and platforms or mushrooms that will make you bounce.

With lots of shooting and exploring, Alice: Madness Returns keeps you glued to your screen, especially the entertaining ways that you can dispatch your foes from combos to a variety of weapons to be found and used. The game contains classic arcade physics such as double jumps, or a swirl manoeuvre that has Alice gliding to the ground. My favourite power of Alice is the ability to turn into butterflies that is great if an enemy has locked onto you. Like the books, Alice can even shrink herself to reach places that her normal human self could not.

There are even elements of Zelda incorporated into the game through its use of combat strategies as Alice darts around and uses some strange items from her hobby horse (mace) to bombs and her deadly blade. Enemies are quite diverse in the game and pay homage to Alice's mental condition such as dead inkblots to violent sword totting insects and even baby-like creatures. Combat is fun the game and sometimes you need to use the environments to your advantage. Boss battles range from hard to easy but once you have figured out the pattern, it does make things easier.

On the PlayStation 3, the controls of this game are a little bit of a hit and miss at times which sometimes effects your gaming, especially when timing is involved. Another issue is the targeting system of Alice that also adds to player frustration, especially when there are several enemies around. But it seems that these control issues are caused by a few graphical glitches and thankfully it doesn't hamper the gaming too much. It is still quite playable! The game is also progressed through some beautiful in-game cinematics and those memory snippets that you find for Alice. The first few levels of the game serves as a tutorial that will teach you how to navigate Alice in Wonderland and even London.

Graphically, Alice: Madness Returns is a bizarre looking fame on the PS3 and is like the developers were all popping some sort prohibited substance to create the twisted world of Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland. The gaming environment is quite diverse for this title such as the winter wonderlands to twisted forests, all reaping of bizarre adaptations of Caroll's popular children's book with a hint of Tim Burton thrown in for good measures.

With that said, the environments are gorgeous and sometimes you just need to stop and smell the virtual roses. Unfortunately the awesome graphics sometimes interfere with the gameplay but for most part, it's eye candy. I really enjoyed the realistic hair movement for Alice that looks real. My only biggest gripe for the animation is that Alice seems to float as opposed to walking. The music is just as engaging as the first game and really adds to the atmosphere of the game as is the voice acting and great sound effects.

In the end Alice: Madness Returns is a fun game that really twists the traditional arcade platformer with the acid like world of the original Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland. It's like Alice has gone psychotic. The gameplay is good, even with the few gameplay and graphical nuisances as the title has a real charm to it. Once the game sinks its psychotic teeth into you, you will want to finish this crazy title just to see what happens to the loveable Alice! Brilliantly addictive! Still want more? The original game is included as a bonus download for those that want to relive the magic or for new users to experience the beginning of this macabre story.


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