I'm sure a lot of you loyal readers out there are wondering, "Who
is American McGee? Is his first name really American?" To
answer those questions, American McGee is an ex-id Software
member who left to start this project in 1998 after mapping levels
for Doom2, Quake, and Quake2. His first name is really American.
Another question you might ask is "Why did he attach his name to
a game, who the hell does he think he is?" Now I don't know the
answer to that question, but I can say that he picked a pretty great
game to attach his name to.
Wow. Ooo. Very nice. The engine powering Alice is none other
than the Quake3 engine, arguably the most visually pleasing
engine to date. Hell, it's not really even very arguable. This game
is beautiful. The levels are lush and detailed. Every single level is
simply stunning to look at. You can tell a lot of time and effort
went into crafting each level. You won't see rehashed textures.
You won't see reused houses, crates or rocks. Everything is
fine-tuned. The colours (I'm Canadian I spell it that way, OK??)
are rich and varied. The characters are well animated and
Great pains were taken to convert the Alice world into a dark and
twisted place. They've done a perfect job of creating a world that
remains true to the original story, yet twisted it just enough to
make it interesting. The main characters are really well stylized,
they all retain a look we recognize, yet are eerily evil. Weapon
effects are great, especially fire effects.
Some handy features are a blue dot, which shows you where
you're aiming (sometimes a problem in 3rd person games) and
little feet that show where you'd jump to if you just press the jump
button (jumping almost ALWAYS a problem in 3rd person games).
There is almost no clipping issues, which is wonderful, and even
small details like how Alice holds weapons as she climbs up ropes
and ledges are virtually free of clipping problems.
The sound is probably some of the best I've heard in a game. The
music, for starters, is almost perfect. It's simple, ambient, and
blends into the background well and it sounds fantastic. Most of
the tunes are very creepy, they really give the sense of a twisted
and evil Wonderland. I hear the music was done by an ex-NIN
member, which would explain how well the music comes across
as creepy, but it's not fast or heavy.
Ambient sounds are worked in wonderfully as well. There are
enough to add variety to the levels, but they aren't constant. This
is good because it lets you listen to the background music and also
gives you that creepy "alone" feeling. Some of the creepiest you'll
hear are the little psychotic kids cackling and crying. Steam vents
burst into action, rivers murmur, gears grind, electricity crackles.
It's very immersive.
Weapon sounds are pretty good. Small details like the croquet
mallet "squeaks" when you hit something (if you remember, the
croquet mallet is actually a bird) and the jack-in-the-box plays a
little music before it opens make a big difference. Overall they are
nothing to write home about. Alice has 3 types of gibbing - slice in
2, slice off the head, and explosive gib. The slicing ones sound
fantastic, you hear a satisfying sound and hear the blood splatter
on the ground. The voice acting in this game is exceptional too.
Congrats are in order for the voice of the Cheshire Cat, he sounds
amazing. Other developers take heed - voice acting should be
done by PROFESSIONALS, not by some jackass off the street.
Hitman developers, do you hear me? "Excuse me I have to go to
The gameplay is addictive but frustrating. I REALLY like this game
but I REALLY don't like jumping puzzles and I REALLY don't like
dying every 5 minutes because I fall into space or I fall into lava,
or I fall into acid, etc. There is a lot of jumping puzzles in this
game. They've done a good job with the little feet icon to help
you figure out how to jump, but I still don't think that jumping
puzzles = good gameplay. It's the single biggest problem I have
with this game, and it IS quite a big problem.
That aside, however, the game is great. The enemies are difficult
but not impossible. Every enemy you kill leaves behind a certain
amount of health and mana (magic, consumed by most weapons)
so it's pretty easy to keep maxed out. The level variety is fantastic,
the thing that will keep people playing will be the need to see
every single level in the game, not the challenge.
The enemy variety, sadly, leaves a bit to be desired. By the end I
was pretty sick of the screaming skulls flying around and the card
players get old fast. However, the variety isn't lacking that much
and I'm glad they spent their time perfecting a few enemies rather
than creating a ton.
AI wise, the enemies are decently smart. They will follow you
around although they occasionally get stuck behind walls. They
have a realistic field of view but they don't work together at all.
For instance, a lot of the time you'll have an enemy that shoots
explosive things, and in front of them will be a short-range fighting
creature. The one behind will just keep firing explosive things and
they'll keep hitting the enemy in front. I'm not sure if enemies can
damage each other though, I usually kill them all before I could
Certain other frustrations - some of the levels are too maze-like.
The mirror maze and the queen hedge maze are both examples.
They're not terribly confusing but I never like running around not
knowing where I'm going or if I'm going around in circles. I think
they could have been cut down to be less maze-like.
This game is fun because of the beautiful levels, graphics, and
sound. This game is not fun because of the constant jumping
puzzles and the dying that results from them. Overall, though, this
game is quite addictive. The jumping puzzles aren't THAT
frequent and they aren't THAT bad, but they've always annoyed
me as a gameplay mechanism so I'm mentioning them a lot.
Overall the game is a great experience and has kept me
entranced for a long time.
In terms of the controls, there's not much to say, standard control
set up. You can control things like the distance between Alice and
the camera but the default is pretty good. The camera is very well
done, it never gets stuck in awkward spots and follows Alice
fluidly. I normally don't like 3rd person games because of camera
and control problems but this game showed me that 3rd person
can be done well, the Quake 3 engine is good at 3rd person, and
that I am capable of enjoying a 3rd person game.
American McGee's Alice is simply a very good game. It's a good
addition to your video game library. Buy it for a loved one for
Chrismas or be your own early Santa and buy it for yourself.
With the creation of Lewis Carroll's novel Alice in
Wonderland, the world became unwittingly exposed to a
psychedelic subculture promoting alternate views on reality by
means of acid and mushroom trips. The world of Wonderland
depicted in the novel and Disney's movie was twisted and surreal.
Perhaps it was this haunting view that allured me to American
McGee's Alice. One of the first games to utilize the Quake 3 engine,
Alice brings forth Carroll's demented view of Wonderland via 3rd
The main character of the game is Alice herself,
however, she is much more gothic and demented this time around.
It seems as though when Alice left Wonderland, things started to
crumble and guess who has to save it? With the help of a decrepit
Cheshire cat, Alice must battle the undead and the queen's guards
in order to save Wonderland from a horrible fate. The entire game
is done via 3rd person, which is superbly done without any camera
One word sums up the eye candy in Alice, stunning.
Throughout the entire game I felt as though I was really in
Wonderland. Perhaps the best aspect of the game is the amazing
environments the designers behind Alice created. Most of the
levels are absolutely breathtaking and twisted at the same time. It
is absolutely incredible to see what the Quake 3 engine is capable
of. A few of the levels just have to be seen to be believed. The
entire cast of characters has all been redone to fit American
Mcgee's gothic vision of Wonderland and is first-rate. My favorite
character would have to be Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee, who
are about as evil as they come in this rendition of Wonderland. Be
forewarned, my 600mhz Pentium 3 struggled at times pumping out
the beautiful world of Wonderland, so those of you with lower end
machines might want to pass this one up. Alice's graphics are sure
not to disappoint even the most cynical gamer.
The sound and control are flawless as well in Alice. The
music is fantastic and
sets the mood for each section of Wonderland perfectly. The voice
effects are one of my favorite aspects of the game. As the Cheshire
cat spoke to me, I really felt a sense of his wisdom and
understanding of Wonderland. As for controlling, each key is
configurable and I was able to get away with using my Quake 3
Gameplay in Alice consists of moving from one linear
location to the next. Conceivably, the only downside to the game
is the fact that you can't stray from the path the designers want you
to take. However, the level design and visual splendor more than
make up for this minor inconvenience. Each level is designed to
perfection and gives a genuine feel for the twisted imagery of
Wonderland. The weapons at Alice's disposal range from a knife to
deadly jacks, each weapon draws from the fantasy of Wonderland.
The enemies are also true to the novel and movie, each being
more gothic and disturbed than their original counterparts, my
favorite being the card guards. As you progress through the game,
the story behind your return to Wonderland becomes clearer. Despite the great fantasy
behind Wonderland, a lot of it fails to return in American McGee's
Alice. The story falls a little thin and in the end, it is insignificant.
The worst part of American McGee's Alice is knowing it is
eventually going to end. Throughout the entire game, I felt so
captivated and a part of this twisted world and I had a hard time
quitting the game. Despite my personal love of the game, Alice
isn't for everyone. A lot of people might be put off by this
disturbing view of Wonderland, or just never cared for Wonderland
in the first place. Unfortunately, Alice brings nothing innovative to
3rd person gaming, but relies on artistic talent instead. If you find
yourself intrigued by Wonderland, I would defiantly suggest giving
Alice a try, one of the best games this year.