Alice: Madness Returns Preview (PS3)

If done right, re-imaginings or adaptations can be very powerful pieces of work. Not only do you have the familiarity and nostalgia of the original IP, but provided your new version is good enough, you'll have all of the accolades and acclaim for the original sections as well. American MGee's version of Carroll's tale may not be the first re-interpretation we've seen, but it's certainly intriguing none-the-less.

She's not a little girl any more...
Given the critical success that was the first game though, it's interesting that Alice: Madness Returns took 11 years to come about, but it's here now, and as the name suggests, the madness has returned. The basic premise doesn't seem as interesting as the first game - Eleven years after the events of the first game, Alice is still pretty messed up, and once again decides to go to Wonderland for comfort only to find that that's all messed up as well. Again. Seems like a slight re-use of concepts, but the interesting thing here is that there are hints that the fire that killed your family (which lead you to go mad, which is basically what the first game is about), may have not been an accident, so there's a thriller element here that might make up for that.

The only other thing worth noting here is that the first game took place ten years after the events of the book, and now this game is eleven years after that... so Alice must be like 30 now, right? Does that seem weird to anyone? No? Just me then. From what we've been told, each 'level' will start off in the real world, and then something will happen which will trigger an episode in wonderland, where most of the action takes place.

Wonderland itself is very grim. Considering the original game would have been constrained by the technology of the time, it's hard to do a direct comparison, but you can imagine the general idea being the same. Iconic places from the Wonderland are now degraded and decrepit, and the inhabitants twisted by madness. Even Alice's dress is different, and she's now rocking a slight goth-chick image, like she was an extra from St. Trinian's.
Those gooey looking guys can be a right pain to kill, I found
Gameplay wise, it actually feels like old-school Zelda, like Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask. Alice has light and heavy attacks, as well as a counter in the form of... an umbrella... and the recommended thing is to lock on to your target for more effective attacks. There will be many types of enemies, some that are little more than cannon fodder, some that will require specific tactics to defeat, and some that you're not supposed to defeat, which only help fuel the madness and terror of the world you're in.

Alice: Madness Returns looks like it's going to be a game that's mainly about the story and the journey. The gameplay mechanics themselves are pretty standard, although flavoured due to the setting, but those will not be the main focus. Alice's adventures in wonderland are all the about the act, what you find out along the way. This puzzle-platformer isn't exactly going to re-invent the wheel, but it's a welcome return to the dark twisted world that McGee presented to us all those years ago. Alice: Madness Returns is due out on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on June 14th, 2011.

Most Anticipated Feature: I want to know what happened to Alice's family... I bet she did it.

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