Alice - (1/3) Author: Ben
Developer - Rogue Entertainment
Publisher - EA
Pentium 2/400 or equivalent
4x CD Drive
580Mb hard drive space
16Mb OpenGL compatible video card with DirectX 7 support
DirectX 7 compatible sound card
Windows 9x/2000 (not officially, but it worked for us)
Wonderland has changed…
If there is one title that has stirred up controversy recently, this is it. Strangely, the focus of this debate has not been the gameplay merits, graphics or even the gothic atmosphere of American McGee’s Alice, but rather the title. “Who is American McGee?” people cry, “and how can he defile Lewis Carroll’s original work like this, and then attach his own name to it?”. The answer to the first question is relatively simple - American McGee is a level designer who previously worked at iD software on games including Doom 2 and Quake. The second, however, is harder, and largely depends on how you perceive the games’ take on the original stories.
Alice is set some years after the original Wonderland tales. A fire in Alice’s house killed both her parents, leaving her the only survivor - but psychologically scarred by the experience. Relegated to a mental asylum, she is drawn once again into Wonderland, only to find that the fairytale world has become twisted and evil under the influence of the Queen of Hearts. Thus begins Alice’s quest to free Wonderland from tyranny - and herself from madness. Worthy of special mention is the excellent trailer for the game, which can be found at http://www.alice.ea.com, which shows off some of the superb FMV from the game.
The first thing that strikes you about the game is the sheer style with which the storyline and world are crafted. By taking familiar elements of the original books and twisting them into new forms, Rogue have produced a game that is a wonder to behold. This style is backed up by some of the best graphics to appear on the PC in recent times, powered by the Quake 3 engine. Technically, the engine is not much improved over that used in Quake 3, but the levels and characters are so well-designed that it looks like a brand new system. The game is split up into a number of themed worlds, with smooth transitions between most of them. The environments range from the monochrome castles of the chess pieces, to lush green forests and the mechanical hell of the Hatters’ asylum.
The constant variation in the levels and the wonderful graphics provide a compelling incentive to keep playing, but Alice does not fall short in the gameplay department, either. The game is played from a third-person perspective as you guide Alice through the part-platformer, part-combat levels. Quake-style mouse and keyboard controls are used, and whilst this takes a little bit of getting used to, it soon becomes second nature, and makes navigating the environments much easier. To aid the player further, a glowing crosshair acts as an aiming point for Alice’s weapons, and can also provide an indicator of where it is safe to stand on ledges.