by Electronic Arts Reviewed by: Mike David
Wonderland is a place of childish dreams and fanciful memories for Alice. But after failing to save her parents from a fiery death, Alice finds herself in a sanitarium, her already fragile psyche fractured. Lost in her own world, Alice delves back into Wonderland and discovers that due to her ruined state, Wonderland has become a twisted, sick, and dangerous world.
Once there, Alice finds that the Evil Queen is back in power, that some of her former friends are now her enemies and ultimately the only way for her to straighten things out is to find the Queen and basically butcher her. Along the way, the Cheshire Cat assists her with abstract clues, Turtle leads her through the water maze and the Mad Hatter tries to kill her. This is not the Fairy Tale that Walt Disney made into a cartoon so many years ago.
Match wits and weapons with the denizens of Wonderland, finding strange and cruel devices. Slaughter the card guards, send wraiths into the abyss, and stab the hell out of the ant army with weapons that are as twisted as Alice’s mind. In other words, “Be prepared to get a bit messy mum, you’ve got a bit of splatter on your dress.”
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Alice is an adventure game viewed in the 3rd person. Alice runs around solving strange puzzles and mini quests; along the way she meets up with some very familiar faces. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Mad Hatter, March Hare, and others have all been given the once over as Wonderland twists and contorts from its former version. Selecting the level of difficulty, (I picked “Nightmare”) allows for your tempo of play. The harder the level, the more enemies and problems you will encounter.
As you begin the game, Alice starts off with the butcher knife, which she wields with deadly accuracy. Slicing and throwing it, she eventually acquires the croquet mallet, the playing cards, the dice, and other strange weapons. Each weapon has a primary and secondary function that you can bind to the controls.
I found it easiest to set up the game similar to my first person shooter controls, using the mouse wheel to scroll through the weapons. The weapons are original and refreshingly wicked. I would have been disappointed to see the same old guns and explosives that are in every other game and fortunately this was not the case. There is something deliciously inviting watching a woman wipe the blood off of 14 inch butcher knife.
As Alice continues her journey, expect to navigate strange areas never found in the original Alice in Wonderland, such as the school, ant tunnels (after being shrunk again), and strange gnome caves. While jumping and running is a must, there are other levels that require swimming and coal cars. As I played, I was giddy with anticipation as to what would happen next in this strange game. Any time I felt a little lost as for what to do, I called the Cheshire Cat, who would promptly appear and give a vague clue as to what should happen next. Personally, I would have liked to see the cat fight along with Alice occasionally, as he has always seemed a bit sinister and now with his mangy punk rock look, I thought he could really tear someone up. Alas, he never did. Mini cut-scenes popped up often and would direct Alice as to what needed to be done next.
The turn as an insect sized human was to be expected, but this reviewer was in awe of the impressive attention to detail and battles one would expect if shrunken down to the size of an ant. With dive bombing bees and angry fire ants, Alice has her hands full -- add in the crumbling ground and the trek down river (which was probably a trickle) and it makes the need to save often even more critical. Luckily, killing most opponents results in a life icon that will give Alice a much needed boost. My personal fave was when Alice first fell into the water without getting out in time -- a large mouthed fish came up and swallowed her whole. What a grisly fate.
As far as actions are concerned, Alice runs around and does the typical jump and attack thing, but must have learned a trick or two from Lara Croft because she can jump up to ledges and hang or shimmy along a ledge lip. Now, since avoiding the enemies is often far wiser then attacking, using this trick will prove most valuable. Another plus of this game is the enemy A.I. Often the guards or other bad guys would gang up on me by backing me into a corner or each other, a move that would result in my death many times. I was impressed. Most of the time I was running, as the bad guys were best picked off at a safe distance.
Finally, the bosses of this game were done very well, all had the appropriate twisted look to them and so as not to ruin any gaming experiences, usually were unexpected. Doing battle involved timing and being fleet of foot, since Alice possesses no sort of armor or magic (set fire to the Duchess and run like hell). Needless to say, Alice’s old friend the Mad Hatter is no longer a good guy looking for a spot of tea.
Alice is a single player game, but in this reviewer's opinion would make one heck of a multiplayer game with its nasty, nasty weapons.
To me, a game like Alice, even with its friendly controls and easy to learn gameplay would be enjoyable even without good graphics. Fortunately, this is not a problem. Alice has tremendous atmosphere, brought on by stylish coloring and rendering. With no lag and sharp edges, the action comes at a brisk pace. And since it’s based on the Wonderland world the fogging effects and shimmering water all look excellent. A fine job done by the EA team. My only real disappointment was the disappearing/reappearing obstacles in the distance. Frankly I was surprised there were any in such a graphically superior game.
With the screech of Wraiths and the almost melancholy English accent of Alice I was grinning ear to ear. When the Cheshire cat spoke in an almost hushed, sinister voice I smirked with delight. And with the incessant ramblings of the obviously insane Duchess I nodded my head approvingly. The character voices were done by actors who obviously knew their material. An excellent job. The slice of air as my playing cards stuck into my enemies, the evil laugh of the tortured school children. Man, it just doesn’t fit any more perfectly. My hat is off.
Minimum: Windows 95/98/ME, PII 400 or AMD K6-2, 64 MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive, 580 MB free hard disk space plus space for saved games (additional space required for Windows swap-file and DirectX installation), 16 MB OpenGL capable video card with DirectX 7.0 compatible driver, DirectX 7.0 compatible sound card, and a mouse.
Recommended: 500 MHz or faster AMD Athlon or Intel Pentium III processor, 128 MB RAM, 8x or faster CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive, 620 MB free hard disk space plus space for saved games, and a 32 MB or greater OpenGL capable video card with DirectX 7.0 compatible driver.
Alice is a game designed for the mature gamer. Not only because of its violent action but because most younger gamers won’t know the story of Alice and her two previous adventures into Wonderland, thus not appreciating the change unto which all the inhabitants of Wonderland have gone.
Additionally, with its themes of a psychiatric nature, many younger players might not understand the relation of Wonderland and Alice’s psyche. But for the rest of us, it is an excellent game with plenty of character and story development, engaging plot and rich graphics. This game will undoubtedly appeal to the gamer of a more disturbed taste. I liked it.
Review Posted On 1 May 2001.
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