Oh, Alice! You have always been
A source of joy and fun.
Your nonsense world, your crazy friends,
Your poems and your puns.
Now other artists build upon
The work that you begun

This latest is a sequel from
American McGee,
A game that’s dark and menacing
And short on poetry.
It might not be that fun to play
But, man, it’s great to see.

He nailed your crazy bits just right.
He even showed your charms.
(A few of them, at any rate.)
But soon I hear alarms:
What should we make of Alice when
She’s packing firearms?

I shoot and jump, I crush and stab
To prove that I am tough.
I pick up teeth and bottles just
To say I’ve got the stuff.
I shoot things with my Pepperpot,
But it’s just not enough.

See, Carroll loved both words and math.
To him they were a game.
How sad to see this Alice now
Delivers much the same
As every other game I play.
For shame, McGee! For shame!

At least the enemies are fun
And offer some surprise.
There’s doll parts stuck on blobs of tar,
Teapots with crazy eyes,
Drowned sailors, goblins, and of course,
Wasps dressed like Samurais.

The jumping bits were sometimes fun
And sometimes not so much.
The trouble seemed to come when I
Had missed but thought I touched.
Collision is a tricky thing,
With physics codes and such.

The gameplay I’ll forgive because
Your levels are inspired.
The chance to visit Wonderland
I just what I desired.
Still, I must say, from time to time,
It gets a little tired.

It’s much too much to ask the game
To linger for so long.
You might have thought your game’s too short
But you were clearly wrong.
Still, when you opened Wonderland,
I’m glad I went along.

The clockwork plant where Hatter lives,
Where lava sears and burns;
The seabed stage of Carpenter’s
Where mollusks dance in turns;
The hookah smoke that drifts and floats
’round fragile Asian urns;

The castle made of playing cards
That floats up in the sky;
The bridge that forms beneath your steps
As cards go zipping by.
They’re memories of fun I had,
And joys I can’t deny.

So now the disc is on the shelf,
But one day I’ll come back
To see if I can get the few
Achievements that I lack.
And isn’t that reason enough
To keep it in my stack?

You’ve read so far and still don’t know?
The Bottom Line is this:
If you love Alice and her friends,
This game should not be missed.
If what you want is good gameplay,
It’s easy to dismiss.

My Recommendation, then, is clear
But so I don’t deprive
You any longer, here it is:
You’ll love it if you strive
To overcome the boring bits.
The rating?
[rating=3.5]

This review was based on the Xbox 360 version.

Game: Alice: Madness Returns
Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Spicy Horse
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox360
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)

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