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Alice: Madness Returns – Preview

There’s one thing that hardcore action gamers agree on:  We need more games where the main character is a little girl in a frilly dress.  It’s been over ten years since shooter fans last got to run around as Alice in the original American McGee’s Alice, and it’s high time that pinafores and petticoats were brought back to the third-person shooter genre.  Fortunately, we won’t have to wait much longer for the chance to kill things at a tea party, because Alice: Madness Returns comes out in a few weeks.

Way back in the year 2000, the Quake III engine was all the rage, and it was used to make all sorts of action games, including American McGee’s Alice.  Despite the title, this wasn’t a game for children; it was set a decade after the events of Lewis Carroll’s stories, depicting Alice as a demented teen living in an insane asylum. Alice has gone quite mad following the death of her parents and Wonderland has become equally distorted, reflecting her mental state.  The game used a combination of third person shooting, platforming, and of course melee combat using Alice’s “Vorpal Blade”.  The actual gameplay wasn’t particularly innovative, but the game attracted a cult following due to its gothic design scheme, and edgy interpretation of the classic story.  After an eleven-year wait, fans can head through the looking glass again and see what became of our little Alice in the long-overdue sequel.

In Alice Madness Returns, eleven years have passes, and Alice has become a woman… who still has the fashion sense of a seven-year-old. So, if you were a fan of the first game just because of its fashion design, you’ll be happy to hear that Alice will be wearing a variety of Goth Lolita outfits when she returns.  If you’re not into goth chic fashion, you’ll still be able to enjoy the game as an action/ platformer.  Much like its predecessor, Madness Returns will involve third person shooting blended with platforming, and melee combat.
Alice’s weapons are patterned after themes from the works of Lewis Carroll; the “Vorpal Blade”, Alice trademark butcher knife, is back but this time around she also has a huge melee hammer shaped like a hobby horse, along with a pepper grinder that functions like a gatling gun, and a huge teapot that fires explosives like a chamomile bazooka.  Other weapons are yet to be revealed.


Alice will have flashier combat moves this time around, which replaces the clunky melee combat of the first game. Available footage shows her dodging attacks by transforming into a cloud of butterflies, and using fluid combos to bring down her enemies. The new game also gives Alice the ability to shrink or grow, at various times, which is a nod to Carroll’s books, plus a way to add variety to the gameplay.

Running on the Unreal III engine makes the new Alice look much better than the old Quake III engine.  While the turn-of-the-millenium programming was perfectly serviceable at the time, American McGee’s Alice still felt more like an awkward shooter, rather than a proper hand-to-hand fighting game.  The new game appears to have much more exciting combat, and more graceful platforming than its predecessor.

Released before the days of Digital Distribution, the first Alice game has become a rare collector’s item. If you never got the chance to play it, don’t worry, because new copies of
Madness Returns will include a code good for a downloadable copy of the first game which has been ported to consoles just for the release of the sequel.  There’s been no official word on whether or not PC Gamers will also get a free copy of American McGee’s Alice with purchase.

Alice Madness Returns will be available for XBox 360, Playstation 3, and PC on June 14th.  Stay with us for more preview coverage and our review after release.


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