Alan Wake review
This game might just Wake you up
Remedy Studios are most well known for their Max Payne games. It got a film deal and they sold the rights on, so what exactly have they done since? The answer being Alan Wake, an interesting title that was actually announced five years ago in 2005 as a PC and Xbox 360 game. Recently, they announced it would be an Xbox 360 exclusive. Now that it is out, the question is, was it worth the wait?
Alan Wake has been waiting on the barge to get to Bright Falls for 5 years...
Yes and no. Remedy Studios made a few changes over the course of five years that while it may suit the games psychological thriller action theme, it just isn't what I was looking forward to all those years ago. Alan Wake was originally announced as a free-roam game along the lines of Grand Theft Auto, with the town of Bright Falls and the surrounding countryside being your sandbox. The game was to incorporate a day and night system where obviously enemies would be out and about during the night and investigation would take place during the day. It could have been intriguing stuff. Sure, not every game needs to be a sandbox to give it replayability but with this generations games becoming shorter, and without multiplayer or a place to explore, you're likely to play it through and let it gather dust until the next downloadable content is released. Unfortunately, the design was changed so that the game was linear. The paths are relatively wide, but don't expect to do much exploring.
Light is your most powerful weapon in Alan Wake
Alan Wake is the story about a writer aptly named Alan Wake who comes to the town of Bright Falls for a holiday with his wife Alice. Naturally, bad things happen, you start finding pages of a book you didn't write that starts coming true before your eyes and your wife goes missing. The story plays out like a television show, it's episode based and at the end of each episode is a cliffhanger. After the episode you get a "last time, on Alan Wake..." recap of the previous episode. It's a nice touch, and future DLC and sequels to Alan Wake will continue the episodes. The game has six episodes, with a free download token to Episode Seven, "The Signal" if you purchase the game new. The code can't be used until July 27th however. Graphics-wise, the game is visually stunning. The effects in the game are really fantastic and cinematic. Explosions, light, tornadoes, and the environment morphing and shifting all make the game look very nice to play. Some of the face animations do let the game down though, on the odd occasion the voices don't quite sync up with the lips. Despite that, the game looks nice.
The locations you visit are indeed creepy
The length of Alan Wakes story is short. With about eight hours playtime, you'll probably breeze through it in a weekend. That being said, it is a fun and interesting experience while it lasts. The combat system is fantastic and terrifying. The enemies, called The Taken, are immune to your bullets while they are surrounded in darkness, so you use your torch to burn it off until you can gun them down. It can get pretty hectic when you have a group of enemies attacking you and you have to flick between them, burning off the darkness. Along with your torch you have a flare, which holds enemies off while burning away their shields, and flashbangs which instant kill enemies, or if they're too far away it burns off their shields. Collectables do give the game some replayability though. Besides collecting coffee thermoses, watching in-game Twilight Zone reference television shows "Night Springs," and listening to Radio Shows, you'll be collecting the manuscript pages of the book you don't remember writing.
You'll have to burn away the darkness before taking a shot
Manuscript pages are one of the more interesting parts to Alan Wake, I've never actually played a game that spoils what's about to happen before. It's quite subtle and it's never anything plot-breaking, but you'll generally read manuscripts and have a hint of what is about to happen. I recommend playing it on Nightmare Mode for the full experience though, any other difficulty and you'll be missing out on manuscripts that can only be found in that particular mode. Along with reading what's happening or about to happen, Alan actually narrates the game. It's a neat feature and makes it really feel like you're watching a television show where you're controlling the main character. It's not necessarily that scary, though I wouldn't have expected it to be classing itself as a psychological thriller. It does have a few jumpy moments but I won't spoil them. The enemies are pretty creepy, but they're very same-y. Most of the enemies looked the same and spouted the same creepy comments, but the amount of enemies you'll fight makes me wonder just how over populated Bright Falls is.
Old generators can be found along the path to start up street lights
After five years of waiting for Alan Wake, I wouldn't say it's lived up to what it could have been. With more content and episodes coming, hopefully Alan Wake will be a decent franchise. In fact, if it pulls it off, it could become the next Silent Hill. With initial promises of a free-roam horror turning into a linear eight hour adventure with a head-scratching cliffhanger ending, it's a bit of a let-down. If that doesn't sway you and you want to get into a series with a ton of promise and intrigue then go grab yourself a copy.
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