New Look: Alice

We spoke with American McGee about EA's third-person action game. Four new screens are included.

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GameSpot had the chance to stop by the Electronic Arts offices today and talk to the designer of Alice, American McGee, about his game rendition of the Lewis Carroll classic. The look throughout the game is dark, even gothic. Alice isn't revisiting Wonderland under the best of circumstances - she has just escaped from an asylum with the help of the White Rabbit, and the land has been transformed by the threat of the Dark Queen. Many of the environments, such as the Hall of Doors, should be familiar to readers of the novels. Other areas highlight the changes Wonderland has undergone and are, for example, set against the backdrop of a swirling nothingness eating the land in a way reminiscent of the movie The NeverEnding Story.

The cast of characters pulls old favorites into the twisted 3D world. The ever-grinning Cheshire Cat will be your on-again, off-again companion. Other friends will include the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, and the Mad Hatter. The evil Queen's minions will be out in full force, of course. Forces of life-size chessmen and pike-bearing cards will bar your path. Each of the story's five parts will be capped by a boss, one being the Jabberwocky, which we had the chance to see in all its winged glory.

The game plays as a combat-heavy third-person action-adventure. McGee says the gameplay is about 70 percent shooter action and 30 percent environmental puzzles. Most of the game's weapons are Victorian toys turned to new ends, like the Jacks O'Death, Demon Dice, and Jack (in the box) Bombs. Others, like the Jabberwocky Eye Staff, you'll assemble from potent items found on your adventure.

The puzzles won't be simply based on finding the right lever or key, but instead will involve more compelling manipulation of the environment, such as carefully stepping across a chessboard that's spinning above a void. This particular area is quite awe-inspiring and is featured in several of the screenshots in our gallery. The team looked into incorporating some of Carroll's own puzzles but found them on the whole to be too heavy on mind-numbing logic to be fun for a game of this type.

The good news is that almost all of Alice's art, creatures, and levels are complete. The team is now planning to spend the next couple of months polishing the game for its fall release date. We'll bring you a more in-depth look at the game as it nears release.

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