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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Rogue Entertainment

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2000

 

 

- Superior visuals

- Amazing stability at high resolutions

- Very good action

 

 

- Slow downs at really busy levels (a rare occurance)

- Very dark game, definitely not for children

- Too many jumping puzzles

 

 

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American McGee's Alice

Score: 9.8 / 10

 

While serving as a mathematics professor at a Christian high school in England, Lewis Carroll wrote numerous papers and books on his discoveries and findings in the field of Euclidean mathematics (some of which are still studied today) in addition to his most well known achievement his two books on Alice and her adventures in Wonderland. Generally considered his intellectual masterpiece, Carroll wrote insidious stories that held two levels - good natured children's books and a collection of commentaries on everything including the monarchy, politics, lawyers, and scholars. The books themselves seem much like a more modern Brothers Grim fairy tale - teaching valuable lessons while at the same time holding a level of intangible darkness with implied half-truths and an underlying evil nature. Ever hear the phrase, "There is a fine line between brilliance and insanity"? Well, American McGee's Alice lives off of the latter and expands upon it to turn out what is a visually amazing game with a truly dark look at Wonderland.

 

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The story line starts by showing a comatose Alice in a mental institution - left vegetative after witnessing her parents' deaths in a fire at their home. Even Alice's appearance has taken on a darker image - her bow on her blue dress is set around a skull and the menu picture of her is disturbing with those wide open vacant eyes. With the trauma, Alice returns to Wonderland following the White Rabbit. After being brought up to speed by the Cheshire Cat (who serves as her guide and mentor on her journey), Alice is made aware of the domineering Queen of Hearts and her oppressive rule since her last visit. Seeing the mentally crushed masses and traumatized children Alice vows to stop the Queen and return peace to Wonderland. Sounds honorable? She intends to bring back peace by killing all enemies and placing the Queen's head on a spike, not exactly a children's story.

The game plays like a third person shooter - you control Alice from a shoulder view, that is you see everything in front of her. Movement in the game is truly three dimensional - you can climb vines, swim in all directions, and most importantly engage enemies both above and below yourself as long as you can maintain a direct line-of-sight.

 

To complete her plan and protect her, Alice can arm herself with a variety of weapons: a long knife, a pack of cards (that cut enemies as opposed to the deck), a flamingo/croquet racket that shoots balls of lightning, evil jacks, and a pair of demon dice that summon spirits (a bad throw could easily backfire making your life miserable). Her life and weapons energy represent facets of her mind - that is her sanity is her health and her will is her weapon energy, as she dispatches enemies she can restore these life forces.

 

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The positives on this game are astounding - the levels are detailed and look like a balance between reality and the inherent insanity that is Wonderland. More importantly, because of the high system requirements for the game it has stability at higher resolutions even on a computer barely above the minimum system requirements. For example, I was able to run the game at 1024 X 728 despite the fact that I have been unable to duplicate the feat on any 

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other game - the only slowdown occurred in the library level (in Skool) where there were four enemies on a detailed screen (it would have lagged on any computer). The stability of the game is something that is rarely taken to such an extreme and I hope it starts a trend that courses through the gaming industry. To find a negative on the game, I must admit that it was a rather difficult task - the only minus I could justify is the inordinately high number of jumping puzzles. Although challenging, they grow rather old quickly.

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American McGee's Alice is a spectacular game, one that you should definitely take a look at, even just to download a demo, it is definitely worth the effort and you will be impressed like I am, but remember this game is definitely not for children.

- Tazman

(December 20, 2000)

 

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