American McGee's Alice
American McGee started a few years ago with the idea of making a game based on Lewis Caroll’s Alice, and the guys of Electronic Arts (RJ Berg especially) found it to be a great idea and they started the production.
The story starts a few years after Alice returned from Wonderland. She wakes up in her house which is on fire, and her parents shout to her that she has to escape. The parents remain in the house (guess they like grilled meat) and die.
This is a bit too much for the mind of the little Alice. She goes insane, ends up in an asylum and this is where the game begins.
You have to travel through Alice’s mind which is a pretty fucked up version of Wonderland and have to defeat the forces of the evil Queen of Hearts to make Alice sane again.
Along the way to sanity you get tons of jumping puzzles and opponents (card-people, devils, chess-pieces, …) you must destroy. Help comes in the way of friendly people and creatures that live in Wonderland and want you to overthrow the evil reign of the Queen of Hearts, and ofcourse the White Rabbit and the cat who give you tips which help you succeed your mission.
Graphically, Alice is really outstanding. It’s the best game to date that uses the Quake 3 engine. Explosions are bright and shiny, surroundings are pretty realistic (for as far as Wonderland can be realistic) and Alice’s character is very nicely modelled (she even has animations when you’re gone for a cup of coffee).
The sound that you hear during the game is incredible, adding alot of atmosphere, although sometimes when using a surround soundset, the volume goes up and down during cut-scenes which makes it hard to understand what people are saying.
Although Alice is a third person shooter, violence isn’t really an issue here. Your opponents are not real people (or anything LIKE real people) so this is an extremely good gift for kids.
Gameplay also consists in a combination of killing enemies and solving puzzles. It made me think of those games in the eighties where you have to run around, find the right key, jump from rock to rock to finally get abit further.
Jumping puzzles are all but original, but after a while they don’t really disturb anymore. Each time you can save and even if you forget to save your game in front of a difficult puzzle, there’s a good chance that the game’s autosave function has done it for you. No more going back to the beginning because you jumped 1 millimeter too far.
The worst thing that can happen in Alice is that you get seasick and have to go to the bathroom or toilet to throw up. Some of the levels in the last episode are really crazy, consisting in several screws that turn around while you have to jump on them making it so that you keep turning all the time (believe me, don’t eat too much before doing those puzzles – that could make a real mess). I suggest they put the guy that made those puzzles in a railway that keeps going over its head so he can feel what effect turning around constantly can have on a human being.
The weapons at your disposal are some kind of altered toys with each having its own sound and effects. For instance there’s some kind of ninja star thing that you throw at your opponent, and it keeps following and hitting him which is pretty useful when you are around the corner and want to stay out of the line of fire 🙂
There’s also an ice staff which freezes the opponent, but when using the alternate fire mode, you can build up a shield behind which you can hide behind from enemy attacks.
Destroying the bossess can take up some time. Each boss has a seperate weapon he’s extremely vulnerable for so you have to find out which weapon to use and you also have to find out where to hit him since not all of the parts of the body are equally vulnerable.
All in all, American McGee’s Alice is a wonderful game with everything you want from a single player shooter : tons of enemies and puzzles, cut-scenes, great soundtrack and fast gameplay.
Go Get It !