Alice: Madness Returns Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Alice: Madness Returns Box Art
System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Dev: Spicy Horse
Pub: Electronic Arts
Release: June 14, 2011
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence

With that said, the combat is actually very satisfying. Switching between weapons is a breeze, mainly because there are so few to choose from, and striking enemies with any of the game's four weapons feels powerful. This becomes especially true as you start using the teeth you've collected to upgrade your arsenal. There are two close-ranged weapons: the Vorpal Blade is a quick and deadly knife, and the Hobby Horse is a defense-smashing hammer. The two ranged weapons are the Pepper Grinder, which is basically a machine gun, and the Teapot Cannon, which is exactly what it sounds like—a defense-breaking cannon.

Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot

The constant platforming, combat, and puzzle-solving are sometimes broken up by the random unexpected segment of gameplay. Seemingly out of the blue, you'll be asked to play a tune like you're performing a track in Guitar Hero, slip down long slides covered by groups of deadly obstacles, or fight off sharks and crabs with cannon arms as your ship dives deep below the sea. You'll even get to do some of your platforming in a gorgeous 2D envisioned Wonderland. For me, these 2D areas were the most memorable parts of the game, and they broke up the repetitive gameplay very well. The only problem is they're too few and far between.

One of the game's strongest assets is its sound design. The music varies from one level to the next; it's a beautiful distraction when it needs to be and provides an epic backdrop to the fight sequences. The voice work is just as strong as the well-written dialogue, and both come together perfectly to make the characters that inhabit Wonderland feel alive. I found myself grinding through the platforming sections just so I could get another piece of the story, meet an interesting new character or watch one of the game's many stunning cinematics.

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In the end, Alice's second trip into madness isn't quite as satisfying or fresh as her first. Everything feels dated and there's an unfinished, even hurried quality to the game that's more than a little disappointing. That doesn't mean there's a shortage of great moments or fantastic ideas, because Madness Returns has both in spades. It's just that the overall experience is bogged down by slow pacing, repetitive gameplay, and visuals that could've used a little more work. But if you're looking for a fun, unique adventure filled with beautiful worlds and entertaining characters, Madness Returns won't disappoint.

By Adam Dodd
CCC Contributing Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.0
Graphics
Aside from a few graphical hiccups like texture-popping and a few very noticeable seams, the game looks good and its unique art style helps to set it apart.
3.8
Control
The combat is satisfying, if not a little too basic, and switching between weapons in the heat of battle is easy. However, Alice can feel unresponsive during the platforming segments and the camera can be frustrating at times.
4.8
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The soundtrack and voice work are fantastic. The music is beautiful and haunting, and because of the incredible dialogue, the characters really come to life.
3.5
Play Value
The campaign is fairly meaty and offers a few reasons to return for those who like to collect all of the game's hidden items, but the repetitive gameplay will keep many from wanting to play through it again.
3.9
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Intense third-person action: Use multiple upgradeable melee weapons, including the explosive Teapot Cannon, the punishing Hobby Horse, and the classic Vorpal Blade.
  • Explore a dark and shattered Wonderland: Encounter familiar but now strange characters, including the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar, and the Red Queen.
  • Magical abilities: Obtain peculiar abilities in Wonderland like floating with Alice's dress, shrinking, or growing to towering sizes in order to crush enemies.
  • Interactive puzzles: Intuitive and rewarding puzzles such as transforming obstacles, musical memories, chess, and picture blocks.

  • Videos / Game Trailers
    Alice: Madness Returns - Debut Teaser	 - click to enlarge
    Debut Teaser
    Alice: Madness Returns - TGS 10: Fiery Tentacles Teaser 	 - click to enlarge
    TGS 10: Fiery Tentacles Teaser
    Alice: Madness Returns - Teaser Trailer	 - click to enlarge
    Teaser Trailer
    Alice: Madness Returns - Gameplay Trailer	 - click to enlarge
    Gameplay Trailer

    Screenshots / Images
    Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge Alice: Madness Returns Screenshot - click to enlarge

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