A dark masterpiece
I picked up a new copy of Alice: Madness Returns for the Xbox 360 back in April of 2012. Since it came with a copy of the original American Mcgee's Alice, I decided to start with that in May. However, it took me until November of that year to beat that game (it was good, just long), and then I didn't start the main game until the middle of August.
All I'll say about the first game is that it's definitely worth either watching or playing. It's not necessary for the enjoyment of Alice: Madness Returns, but it'll definitely help with the story. And since EA dropped the online pass requirements for their games, the first game is free even if you pick up a used copy.
As for the main game, it's rather enjoyable. It consists of 6 chapters which are actually quite long, where you'll be slashing and jumping around various areas. Each chapter has its own vibe, and even within the chapters the vibe can change a couple times.
The controls are fairly tight, although I probably had at least a dozen or more deaths that I felt were because of the controls. But, to some extent I'm sure a number of those were simply because I tried to rush things, or didn't fully think out my path. The battle system, having played on hard, is at times unforgiving, but ultimately satisfying when you squeak by or really get into the groove and plow through the enemies.
The story is top-notch. Playing as Alice, who is slightly insane, the story keeps you guessing on whether she's really insane or is in fact the only sane one in the game. I found that I guessed where the ending was going, but nonetheless thought it to be great when I got there.
Honestly, I can't think of any reason to take any points away from this game. It's long, but at no point does the game contain filler to pad the length; rather the length only allows the story to go to more places and tell much more.
For these reasons, I give Alice: Madness Returns 5 of 5 stars.