My review for the X360/PS3 game, Alice: Madness Returns.
Game Title: Alice: Madness Returns
Console: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows/Mac
Developer: Spicy Horse
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Main Theme for any hardcore readers;
Alice: Madness Returns is the sequel to 'American McGee's Alice', a windows & mac game released in 2000.
The game has a very basic story as if it was intended for children, much like the actual Alice in Wonderland. Of course this isn't the case due to the violence and overall more mature setting. It begins with the protagonist, Alice, living inside an orphanage. Their is a cut scene showing conversation between her and her psychiatrist. This is basically due to her parents and sister dying in a house fire, caused by an unknown source. It was believed to be an accident, but of course you're going to find out who it was.
The game sees you going through various parts of Wonderland, which has been torn apart due to Alice going insane after her family was killed. While going through Wonderland you must overcome various puzzles and enemies in order to reach the next section and discover the truth. You remember the past bit by bit as you go along, until you finally realise who the killer was. You also meet some characters from Alice in Wonderland along the way, such as the Mad Hatter and Dormouse. Not that I had a clue who they were before I played this.
As you travel through wonderland you find several weapons which you can use to protect yourself from any threats.
Most of these weapons can be upgraded up to four times. Information on them is below;
Attack Speed: Fast
The Vorpal Blade is the first weapon you find. It's basically a knife, and you can use this to kill enemies at close range. The attack speed is fairly quick and has a 3 hit rapid tap combo. Being the main weapon, it can be upgraded. Each upgrade sightly increases it's damage and increases the speed you attack at, as well as the length of a rapid tap combo. At the final fourth upgrade their are 5 quick succession slices from the knife which deal quite a lot of damage, and so are good for weakening strong enemies while they're stunned, or taking out large groups of weak enemies.
Attack Speed: Fast
This is the second weapon you find, and adds the ability to fight at range, among other uses. The weapon is what it's called, it's an actual pepper grinder. Although it's a bit over sized to be used for seasoning. The fire rate for this is fast, and so the damage isn't very high, but it can be used to take out weak enemies at range, as well as being the method to take out any flying enemies. The weapon doesn't use ammo, but does have an overheat meter, meaning it can't be used constantly. This can also be upgraded, although the only difference is a damage increase. As said, the Pepper Grinder is not only used for fighting. It's also necessary for certain puzzles, such as firing at a switch far away to activate a timer. There are also various 'Pig Snouts' hidden around Wonderland, which can be activated by firing pepper into them. When enough pepper is in them they reveal secrets, or platforms which couldn't be gotten to before.
Attack Speed: N/A
This is the only item you will find that is used for defensive purposes. Alice will pull out the umbrella, spinning it for 2 or 3 seconds. If the umbrella is kept held out, it will no longer protect Alice, and she will be knocked into a stagger from an attack which hits it. This is why timing is necessary to block an incoming attack, so that it hits while she is spinning the umbrella. Some ranged attacks can be deflected by it, and can hit the enemy who originally fired it, damaging them and possibly stunning too. This item cannot be upgraded.
Type: Short Range Explosive
Attack Speed: Timed / Switch
The Clockwork Bomb is essentially the most useless out of all the items, as it's main use is later taken up by another more effective weapon. This is to break down weak walls or barricades, and is needed to advance past these during the first part of the game. It does however have some other minor uses. It can be used to distract certain enemies, to give you time to think. However the more powerful and bigger enemies won't notice it, and will continue to pursue you. It can also damage enemies, but does next to no damage, as well as being able to drop only one at a time, and it having to be from close range. This makes it pretty useless as a fighting tool. I'd stick to minor distractions for this one. This can't be upgraded either.
Attack Speed: Slow [Average after upgrades]
The 'secondary' melee weapon Alice obtains. This time round it's an actual Hobby Horse, which is used to attack with a style as you would with a giant hammer. It's far more powerful than the Vorpal Blade, being able to 1-hit kill smaller enemies, and doing massive damage on stronger enemies with combo hits. It can also break through bigger enemies shields, causing them to stagger and become open to other attacks. It is however slower, and only has a 2 rapid tap combo. When upgraded it of course becomes slightly more powerful each time, but the upgrades effect this one quite a lot. The Hobby Horse gets a new look each time it is upgraded, becoming a rather demonic weapon by the end. It also increases to a 3 hit rapid tap combo, which also seems a lot faster than it originally did, making it a great knock out weapon. It is also the replacement Clockwork Bomb. The Hobby Horse can smash open any barricade the bomb was previously used for, and can also break stronger structures that the bomb can't handle at all.
Attack Speed: Slow
This is like the ranged equivalent of the Hobby Horse. It's a teapot, which fires tea like a cannon. It's extremely powerful and has a large splash damage, so it's a great weapon to take out large groups of enemies. It is however very slow, and uses an overheat system like the Pepper Grinder. This means only so many shots of tea can be fired. The shots power is stronger if you hold in the fire button for longer, but the stronger the shot, the more of the overheat bar is filled. It'll overheat fully around 3 maximum powered shots, meaning you wouldn't be able to run through the whole game with this. It's also not as accurate as the Pepper Grinder, especially with faster enemies. This is due to the tea flying through the air at an average speed, a lot of enemies may have moved somewhere else by the time it hits the location. It's other use is to destroy barricades from range, which the Hobby Horse or Clockwork Bomb cannot reach. Upgrading this will increase it's power slightly with each upgrade, as well as increasing the range of splash damage done.
Images shown as you obtain the weapons. They remind me of Bioshock;
-Secrets & Collectibles-
There are quite a few secrets to be found in Wonderland.. As I mentioned earlier during this review, there are Pig Snouts. These aren't so much the secret, but what reveals secrets. However they are hidden, and you will receive an achievement/trophy if you manage to find them all. As said before, they either reveal platforms to help you reach extra locations, or a picnic basic filled with teeth may appear. Teeth are the main collectible in the game. They're literally teeth, and you can find thousands of them. There only use is item upgrades. Which means they're essential if you want to keep your fighting gear up to date. Most enemies drop teeth, however killing them in certain ways sometimes comes out with no drops. For example, killing a Drifter in 1-hit with the Teapot Cannon will result in no drops, due to the tea melting the Drifter and all it's contents.
Another secret would be Radula Rooms. These are rooms located in various random locations which can be accessed by finding a horn and walking into it. There are several horns hidden throughout Wonderland. When you enter a Radula Room, you will be given a task. The very first one is a quiz, which is generally easy. After that you will be given tasks such as surviving in a room of enemies for a period of time, or having to kill a set number of enemies. Once the task is completed you will be a given a rose piece. These work in the same way as heart pieces in Zelda games, when you've collected four, you get an extra life segment.
There are actually quite a few different enemies in Wonderland. Most of these are made up of a disgusting black goo type substance, and melt down when you kill them. Others are things such as Teapots which fire tea, much like the Teapot Cannon, except these move themselves. There's also 'Bitch Babies', which is quite an interesting name for an enemy, which is a babies head with what looks like several stitches in it, and a propeller underneath to help it fly. A lot of the enemies are around about the size of Alice herself, except fatter. These generally take 1 or 2 hits if you use the Hobby Horse, and do around 1/2 rose of damage with each hit. The bigger enemies in the game are usually protected by several of their own body shields, which must be hit away before you can do any damage. When you eventually get past the shield they usually have small skull looking, well, skulls on their bodies. These are the life force of the enemy and must be destroyed. Other big enemies such as giant babies just need to be attacked countless times before they fall. This is where I think it's a bit tedious. I do enjoy the fighting in the game, but it's very hack & slash at times, especially when put against several big enemies which require countless hits from your weapons.
Screenshot from some gameplay, showing the Hobby Horse in action;
Now for a few words on the ratings;
I usually base graphics on what other games on the same console look like, but during this generation that'd be a ridiculous statement.
The graphics are good. That's all there is to it.
The physics aren't the best at times, especially for jumping, although I don't think I've ever played a game where I think that jumping looks great. During cut scenes the facial movements aren't at their best, but this doesn't ruin anything. I mean it's a game, what do you expect?
I actually really like the soundtrack to this game.
But there's no music which really pulls you in during a battle.
It has a tense feeling to it but it doesn't create the feeling you get when fighting something in say, Zelda.
The gameplay is brilliant.
I played this for hours when I first got it and couldn't wait to play it again once I'd stopped, which is rare for me at the moment.
It can, as I said before, become a bit tedious, but apart from that I can't find any faults. The puzzles are perfectly made and it's next to perfection for a platformer.
This is where it let itself down for me.
The end of the game is a real disappointment.
Mid-story you get the feeling the ending will be tense and full of drama, but it turns out to be a children's book ending, which really isn't interesting, and ruined the game really.
I've been thinking about picking this game up myself. As for your review, it isn't bad, but ti somehow comes off as leaning more in the direction of an overview than a review. It's far from bad, though.