Alice: Madness Returns Review


Alice: Madness Returns is a 3rd person hack and slash with a good amount of solid platforming. The early levels introduce you to what appears to be a simplistic battle system. That changes rather quickly with the introduction of shrink and dodge playing a large role in combat. Combine that with the other weapon types and you have a solid fighting system for what is otherwise going to be viewed as a platformer.

The first weapon you encounter is the Volpar blade. The beloved butcher knife from part one is your basic run-of-the-mill, fast-acting weapon that will send heads rolling. The earlier enemies drop quite quickly with a minor upgrade to this bad boy. Alice has a landmine of sorts in the way of the rabbit. She can drop the rabbit and it will slowly count down or can be detonated. This is a multifunction device as it is used to hold down switches and divert monsters from Alice during big battles.

The first quest of sorts you encounter will introduce you to the pepper gun. The pepper gun is a Gatling gun that will be used to break parts of enemies, shoot switches, and take down airborne enemies. This was my favorite for the earlier parts of the games as the lock-on system is solid and allows for constant fire while circling.

The combat becomes difficult with enemies beginning to block more and using shields of sorts to complicate matters. Just when I was beginning to feel the strain, along came the Horse Head. The horse head mounted on a stick is swung with such force that it breaks the enemies’ guard long enough for you to switch to your blade as a finisher, or the pepper gun to give yourself some breathing room. The many upgrades available change the weapons’ looks, and a fully upgraded Hobby Horse is very intimidating, breathing steam from its nostrils.

The last weapon you acquire is the Teapot, which is a bazooka of sorts. This thing is a beast and will drop monsters in one charged shot early on. The Teapot takes skill to use, as most enemies dodge its slow, arched projectile. The Teapot is also used to destroy weak walls, revealing hidden paths in the later levels.

When Alice runs low on health, you can send her into Hysteria mode. The screen turns black and white and Alice lets out a horrifying scream, allowing you to become invulnerable for a short period of time and hopefully drop enough enemies to acquire some red rose pedals to refill your health. The effect is amazing and the amount of detail is gorgeous.

Madness Returns is one of the better looking titles out there. The amount of detail in every level is simply astonishing. This game features some of the most amazing level design I have witnessed in a game. The Mad Hatter’s level is full of gears and mechanical objects all around, and the amount of depth is incredible. You will have no problem believing you have fallen into the Mad mind of Alice as she searches for answers to how the fire started that killed her family. Level variation is also in abundance here. From the Hatter’s mechanical world to an under-the-sea Walrus level, you will have many sites to see. The Queen’s level was my favorite by far, with playing cards magically appearing as you walk miles above the ground.

I mentioned earlier that Alice was a platformer at heart, and although this is true, there were a large amount of surprises to be found with my time spent in wonderland. A 2D, side scrolling space shooter in the form of a sea boat under water, a guitar hero sequence here and there, and a few other surprises I really don’t want to spoil for you. The Huge Alice sequence was easily the best of the bunch. Running from the executioner throughout the entire level, only to eat some cake and crush him with my shoe was beyond satisfying. Alice then goes on a Godzilla-type rampage, crushing hundreds of Card soldiers, while making her way to destroy the Queen’s heart.

The music in Alice, along with the voice acting, easily pulls you in. Everything is top notch. I love playing a game where you can clearly see how much love went into it. From Alice’s many, many outfits, to the little gems found in the mini games, it clearly was a labor of love. The inclusion of the first Alice game in HD only shows this further. I purposely am leaving information on the story out, as everything about it is a huge spoiler. What was mentioned is hopefully enough to have you intrigued on what is a top notch game.

Review

ProsCons
Gorgeous Game
Incredible Atmosphere
Solid controls
Includes the original Alice
Best Hair animation ever
Minor hiccups during cut scenes
Rating
95%

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Alice: Madness Returns provided by Spicy Horse.


Written by: Jason - News Contributor


  1. #1 by Sinlock on July 2nd, 2011 [ 7625 Points ]

    Still working on the play through. But I’m loving it big time.
    One thing if you plan on picking this one up. Play the first game first before playing Maddness, you’ll have a greater understanding of some of the off hand comments in the game.
    I haven’t looked at the PS3 version yet but did a playthrough of my old PC copy a few weeks ago, looking forward to seeing how the transfer looks.

  2. #2 by Jason on July 2nd, 2011 [ 27494 Points ]

    The transfer is flawless. Im extremely impressed. I played the original on pc prior to this so it was fresh in my mind as well. Good old W.A.S.D

  3. #3 by EdEN on July 2nd, 2011 [ 131365 Points ]

    Great review Jason! The game has been getting mixed reviews here and there but since I liked the previews, I like what you present in the review AND I haven’t played the first one… this game is now on my “to buy” list for the end of the year (I’m at 15 games placed there hahaha. New backlog, here I come!).

  4. #4 by EdEN on July 2nd, 2011 [ 131365 Points ]

    Also forgot to mention how the list of trophies for the PC port are the type I like the most: all story related, unmissable AND part of the game itself!

  5. #5 by GeneticMania on July 3rd, 2011 [ 1450 Points ]

    Seems pretty good

  6. #6 by CHEETO on July 3rd, 2011

    I remember the first Alice, it was simply brilliant. I picked up the game the day it came out, that was like 10 years ago lol, anyway … the original game had clever puzzles that kept you hooked for hours. The game came in a nice EA box warped with a little action figure. I had to look in my old stuff closet … and I found this!

  7. #7 by EdEN on July 3rd, 2011 [ 131365 Points ]

    @Captain_CHEETO: And that was in your closet and not ON DISPLAY because…?

  8. #8 by Jason on July 3rd, 2011 [ 27494 Points ]

    wheres the knife Captain? She came with her Volpar blade. I have mine :P I also picked up the cat yrs later

  9. #9 by CHEETO on July 3rd, 2011

    Eden, I can’t keep anything on display since my 3 years old daughter learned to climb! If she can’t get it, she will cry her way to it.
    Jason I had the cat as well, but again my daughter thought it would be nice to dismantle the head and dump the body in the sewer.

  10. #10 by Jason on July 3rd, 2011 [ 27494 Points ]

    Captain_CHEETO: Eden, I can’t keep anything on display since my 3 years old daughter learned to climb! If she can’t get it, she will cry her way to it.
    Jason I had the cat as well, but again my daughter thought it would be nice to dismantle the head and dump the body in the sewer.  

    hahahah kids! Got to love them!

  11. #11 by xDeFcoN_2FasT4Ux on July 3rd, 2011 [ 2160 Points ]

    great review, been waiting for this game, hopefully ill be able to rent it soon

  12. #12 by Darklurkr23 on July 3rd, 2011 [ 17446 Points ]

    Visually the game looks so amazing. Like needs to be made into a movie amazing. Then again of course they would screw it up. But still, I’m really looking forward to playing this. More so, Im looking forward to playing the 1st one that comes with it. I tottaly forgot about American McGee’s Alice from back in the day. Strange that they’d get approved to make a new one so many years later (>>). But good for them!

  13. #13 by EdEN on July 3rd, 2011 [ 131365 Points ]

    @Captain_CHEETO: Ah, kids… gotta love em! Daughter is only a couple of months old so I’ve got time to either teach her you don’t touch daddy’s figurines and stuff or put everyting under lock and key hehe.

  14. #14 by GeneticMania on July 4th, 2011 [ 1450 Points ]

    I will teach my daughter that all men are wolves that want to eat her. Then she will develope a severe case of androphobia, and learn that she must attack first before they do. She will punch any male whithout warning if they get to close or surprise her. My little angel, hm hm hm… Delightful.

  15. #15 by Pedro on July 4th, 2011 [ 39949 Points ]

    Glad to see a review that is not trashing the game.

    As I said many times before, I loved the first one so I’m pretty excited about this, your review pointed out some things that sound interesting (weapon upgrades and battle system).

    But I’d like to know if I could rent this? What’s your take on this Jason? How long is it?

  16. #16 by Jason on July 4th, 2011 [ 27494 Points ]

    Pedro: Glad to see a review that is not trashing the game.As I said many times before, I loved the first one so I’m pretty excited about this, your review pointed out some things that sound interesting (weapon upgrades and battle system).But I’d like to know if I could rent this? What’s your take on this Jason? How long is it?  

    This is a Buy Pedro. The game was really, really long. I cant give a time frame but it was way longer then infamous 2.

  17. #17 by Pedro on July 4th, 2011 [ 39949 Points ]

    Jason:
    This is a Buy Pedro. The game was really, really long. I cant give a time frame but it was way longer then infamous 2.  

    Well… i haven’t played infamous 2 so I don’t know, but if infamous 1 serves as any parameter I can imagine.

    This is good and bad, as I’ll have to get this game at a later date.

  18. #18 by Jason on July 4th, 2011 [ 27494 Points ]

    Pedro:
    Well… i haven’t played infamous 2 so I don’t know, but if infamous 1 serves as any parameter I can imagine.This is good and bad, as I’ll have to get this game at a later date.  

    Infamous 2 took me 6hrs to 90% it. All that was left was a few shards. Here Pedro bookmark it lol http://howlongtobeat.com/gamebreakdown.php?gamename=Alice:%20Madness%20Returns

  19. #19 by Pedro on July 4th, 2011 [ 39949 Points ]

    Jason:
    Infamous 2 took me 6hrs to 90% it. All that was left was a few shards. Here Pedro bookmark it lol http://howlongtobeat.com/gamebreakdown.php?gamename=Alice:%20Madness%20Returns  

    You’re certainly a lot faster than me, of that I’m sure ;p

    I’m a slow gamer, I like to digest everything properly hahaha

    /thanks for the site too

  20. #20 by Sakinah on July 4th, 2011 [ 26489 Points ]

    Best hair animation? Nariko from Heavenly Sword would disagree with you. :p

  21. #21 by Jason on July 5th, 2011 [ 27494 Points ]

    Sakinah: Best hair animation? Nariko from Heavenly Sword would disagree with you. :p  

    Alice has her beat hands down. It really is amazing what they did with just hair lol

  22. #22 by premiersoupir on July 6th, 2011 [ 17020 Points ]

    Jason: http://howlongtobeat.com/gamebreakdown.php?gamename=Alice:%20Madness%20Returns

    whoa, awesome resource! potentially quite helpful for deciding whether to rent or buy. I’m going to spread the word on this one as the site needs more people submitting the numbers. (reporting on alice and infamous 2 is dismal so far. looks like the site gets its traffic from xbox users more than ps3 — even the first infamous only has 14 reporting!)


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