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American McGee’s Alice – Xbox 360

American McGee’s Alice – Xbox 360


Platform: Xbox 360

Developer: Rogue Entertainment

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release Date: June 2011

Genre: Horror

Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10

American McGee’s Alice was solely released for the PC back in 2000. I was able to obtain it for the Xbox 360 through a free download on a copy of Alice: Madness Returns.

Get out your handy Vorpal blade, abandon your childhood memories, and put your therapist on speed dial because we’re plunging right into American McGee’s Alice. First of all, this game is a cruel mistress. It just loves taking elements from Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s story and defiling them in such a way that you will find yourself loving it too.

"Off with your head, bitch!" -Original quote from The Red Queen, I swear...

“Off with your head, bitch!” – Original quote from The Red Queen, I swear…

That’s the juicy, sweet center of the game. It’s dark twist is so captivating that it immediately grabs your attention and holds you there throughout the entire game. The best part of the game IS the story itself. The story centers around, of course, Alice Liddell, but not as you would remember her. Alice is suffering survivor’s guilt as a result of her family being burned alive in a house fire, leaving Alice to fend for herself in the world all alone. Alice’s mind has been shattered and corrupted, thus, Wonderland has also been shattered and corrupted. All of its inhabitants have had Gothic makeovers and a dark, pessimistic outlook on life. Alice immediately finds out that the Red Queen has assumed a dictatorship over Wonderland and it is her responsibility to take on the Red Queen face-to-face.

One of the first things I noticed is that Alice can run. And I don’t mean specifically that she can put one foot in front of the other in a fast paced manner, but damn is she fast. If you’re not careful, she will fall off of everything. Although watching Alice scream and fall to her death is hilarious, it gets annoying real fast.

The badass character design is also worth a mention. I.e., the Cheshire Cat.  Meeooww.

The badass character design is also worth a mention. I.e., the Cheshire Cat. Meeooww.

That being said, the gameplay overall is just OK. Nothing groundbreaking, but it could actually use improvement. The jumping animation is stiff and awkward, thus resulting in frustration, and because it seems like Alice is coated in butter, it also results in her sliding off of something and falling to her death. Also, the inventory system is a tad bit sloppy. On the left side of the screen is a red tube that notifies you of your health, and there is also a picture of whatever weapon you have on hand at the time. To regain health, you must pick up the red hearts enemies leave behind after you murder them. The right side of the screen bestows a violet tube represents the amount of magic you have which will slowly refill on its own. Certain weapons use magic, and some don’t. The weapons that use magic are the stronger ones, but can only be used a set amount of time before the magic runs out. Personally, I found the weapon system tedious. There are about 10 or so weapons you collect during the course of the game and there’s no option to equip just two or three weapons at a time. Instead, you have to continually scroll through the abundance of weapons just to pick the best one. This is especially nerve-racking during boss battles.

"Could you pull a Goku and wait for a moment, Mr. Giant Evil Centipede?  I'm trying to find the best weapon to kill you with."

“Could you pull a Goku and wait for a moment, Mr. Giant Evil Centipede? I’m trying to find the best weapon to kill you with.”

There are also a couple of sweet potions in the game that is just a reminder of a missed golden opportunity. The red potion turns Alice into a demon chick which makes her stronger and kick more ass. Another is a green grasshopper formula that aids with Alice’s jumping. These are great ideas but they are placed at weird spots in the game and activate right then and there. A more efficient inventory system could have stocked these awesome potions to be used at times when the player wants to use them.

Behold: Badassery

Behold: Badassery

The biggest pet peeve I had with Alice, however, was that there was no breath meter while swimming underwater. There’s a few swimming sections in the game that go on for long periods of time and don’t require breathing, but then in others, Alice’s health will drastically decrease and she will drown with no fair warning whatsoever.  This forced me to start sections over again several times, which quickly got old.

Okay, well enough of me bitching about the gameplay, let’s get to graphics.

The graphics are FANTASTIC, especially for something as early as 2000.  There is bountiful, rich detail and gorgeous character design that it makes the sketchy gameplay forgivable.  You can easily tell how much care and hard work was put into the level design by how complicated, vast, and weirder they get.  It truly feels like you have been immersed into Wonderland.  Alice also likes to be a tease and show you the exit, just to put some sort of obstacle or puzzle in front of it before you can finish the level.  There is not a whole lot of puzzle-solving or combat, but more of trying to get from point A to point B.  There are a good wheelbarrow of enemies while doing so, though.  And the enemy designs are just as impressive as the main character design.  (If you haven’t played the game yet, I won’t give away what the Red Queen looks like, but it’s impressive.)  There are screaming ghosts, bomb-throwing robots, icy skull-bats, and of course, the card guards.


They resemble the love child of Nicholas Cage and Sylvester Stallone.

They resemble the love child of Nicholas Cage and Sylvester Stallone.

American McGee’s Alice reminded me a lot of Tomb Raider but with less puzzle-solving and definitely scarier with more shock value.  If you keep that in mind, then you will love this game as much as I did.  With practice, the awkward controls become easier to maintain, and the gorgeous graphics and feel-good ending is worth the bloodshed.

Written by Sarus Vakarian

Sarus is an alien princess training under the best of the MemeLords in a town that is South of Southern Canada. She hates Mass Effect, Invader Zim, Tomb Raider, South Park, and heavy metal. Sarus currently has two Hellhounds under her care.
Feel free to add her on Steam under the name: Commander Lara.
Twitter and Instagram: Sarusvakarian.


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  1. Pingback: Alice: Madness Returns - Xbox 360 - Nerd Bacon Reviews

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