PsychoSavager\'s review of American McGee\'s Alice
Normally the videogame community shuns any game based on a TV show or film, with good reason, but how often is it that we get a game based based solely on a series of books? With the exception of Rainbow Six, I can\'t think of any. Apart from Alice of course.
If you haven\'t read the Alice books, I suggest you do so. Especially if you like the random humour present in The Hitchhiker\'s Guide to the Galaxy - Lewis Carroll is much like the Douglas Adams of his day. Not only do I like the Alice books, but I also like darker, more twisted fairytales such as Labyrinth or Return to Oz. I thought giving this treatment to Alice would be the perfect combination. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
I bought this game in 2007, seven years after it had been released. The main recommendation for the game when it debuted were its graphics. But seven years does not treat graphics well and whilst they would have been good in its day, they no longer pack a visual whallop.The scenery is still mildly impressive though, if occasionally a bit repetitive.
This is a big let-down of the game. Giving that Alice is based on a pair of storybooks, you\'d think that the story would be more prominent, but sadly, there are no major twists or much plot development. It begins promisingly, with a Alice in a mental institute having been driven insane by the death of her parents in a house fire. But the for the rest of the game, Alice merely ventures through Wonderland encountering warped versions of her old friends until the final battle with the Red Queen.
The voice acting is done reasonably well; Alice has an English accent, and the Cheshire Cat sounds creepy and sardonic.
Alice is basically a third person shooter with a LOT of platformer-style jumping. I\'m very glad this game was released on PC as, in order to preserve your sanity, you need to save very often due to the dramatic deaths Alice will frequently encounter by falling.
The weapons in the game are probably one of its best features; original and appropriate. Particularly the flamingo croquet mallet. You also get the chance to use jacks, dice, a jack-in-the-box, an ice staff and a 19th century blunderbluss. The fights are frequent, and although the enemies are well-designed (card-guards, bandersnatchs, jabberspawn), the fights soon get a bit boring.
All of the stronger attacks require use of magic, which you\'ll find littered everywhere and dropped by your enemies. There\'s no way to upgrade your health or magic, so apart from the occasional, rare, power-up, the weapons are the only improvement as you progress in the game.
Another gripe with the game is its lack of puzzles. Most of them are Tomb Raider-style switch pulling, without much need for brain input. Even the bosses are simply "shoot and evade" rather than requiring any use of the surroundings or weak points to defeat them.
The game is of average length with four difficulty settings. With the possible exception of finding certain weapons earlier in the game, there are no secrets or major reasons to replay it.
American McGee\'s Alice would have probably worked better as a point-and-click adventure game. As this stands, it\'s only a moderately fun third person shooter. Alice fans may enjoy seeing the various characters and spotting the occasional Lewis Carroll reference, but the overwhelming lack of story or puzzles denies it any memorability or worthiness.
Let\'s hope the upcoming film with Sarah Michelle Gellar will have more story. But I sure hope they don\'t make another game from it.....