While you'll undoubtedly enjoy the imaginative artwork, you might end up disappointed with just how straightforward the underlying game really is.
Though the sound and graphics are top notch, Alice unravels in the gameplay. It's a pure third-person shooter - it has none of the exploration elements traditionally contained in 3D platform action games such as Nintendo's Super Mario 64 or last year's outstanding Rayman 2 for the PC. However, what it does have in common with those games is lots and lots of jumping sequences. The third-person camera perspective is placed behind Alice, and operates like the mouse-driven free-look control scheme in any recent first-person game. The camera lags slightly behind Alice, as if it's always trying to catch up to your mouse movements, but fortunately your view never gets obscured, even when Alice's back is to a wall. Though there's a lot of jumping, the control is precise enough that it doesn't get cumbersome. There are even little footprint silhouettes that show you where you're going to land. Also, the quicksave and quickload features are almost instantaneous, which makes retrying missed jumps less of a burden. Add to that the fact that Alice can grab onto ledges if she just misses a leap, and you have a jumping game that's perfect for players who don't like tricky jumps.
Though there's an occasional simple puzzle to solve - one that usually involves flipping a few switches in the correct sequence - every level is an otherwise strictly linear progression from an attractive point A to an attractive point B. In theory, there's nothing wrong with this, as there are plenty of excellent linear shooters. But the problem is that the combat in Alice is simplistic and slow-paced, as if it's meant to be an ancillary element rather than the central activity. Though some of the weapons you'll find are interesting, like a fire-and-forget swarm of killer jacks, the enemy characters you'll face aren't very intelligent. Also, there are three types of power-ups available throughout the game that briefly transform Alice into a powerful demon, a fast grasshopper woman, or make her invisible, respectively. The special effects and animations that accompany each of these are interesting, but the power-ups themselves don't really affect the game in a big way, and they're rarely even important for completing a level. Overall, the battles in Alice never manage to create the sort of frantic tension necessary to maintain interest throughout an entire game. Fortunately, the graphics should be able to hold your attention whenever the gameplay itself fails to do so.
Alice is a fairly standard shooter wrapped in a very attractive package. It offers none of the complexity of a nonlinear 3D platform action game with vast environments, and it offers none of the fast, intense action of a first-rate shooter. And since it takes less than 15 hours to finish the game, it's also pretty short. Alice is completely linear, and it has no multiplayer option, let alone any additional challenges that would help keep you involved in the game after you finish the main quest. The only real incentive in revisiting the game is being able to see some of the impressive scenes for the second time. American McGee's Alice certainly looks good - but the creativity found in the graphics doesn't spill over into the actual gameplay. So while you'll undoubtedly enjoy the imaginative artwork, you might end up disappointed with just how straightforward the underlying game really is.