Alan Wake review
Artificial extension cords
Alan Wake is one of those games that have professional reviewers going gaga. This reviewer is left scratching his head after he finally finishes the game, because he doesn't see what the big fuss was. For those who aren't in the clear, Alan Wake is a AA game (average critic score between 80 and 90), meaning that it must've been a good game... that, or they were bribed to suck its dick, because in all honestly, Alan Wake is a game that stresses the hell out of "style over substance", as while the graphics are pretty, the gameplay is tedious as all hell! It's about as mind numbing as an episode of Jersey Shore as you're essentially doing the same thing over and over and over again - and I don't mean "oh its just the core of the gameplay", but rather, you're going through the exact same forest, the exact same three enemies, and by the end of the game, you would've cured your insomnia. *bleep* this game.
Quite a shame, too, because the story is actually damn well written. It starts with Alan and his wife on vacation in a small town called Bright Falls. This is so he can focus more on his writing. While booking into their hotel, they get a key for a shack out in a lake called Cauldron Lake. When they get there, an evil sort of entity known as The Taken kidnap his wife, and now he has to rescue her. Oh, and the townsfolk get possessed by The Taken at night. Great, just what we need - MORE TROUBLE.
Anyway, as you progress, you'll collect manuscripts of some novel written by Alan (who finds it strange, but hey, he must've been drunk that night) that tells an eerily similar tale to that which is going on in this game, and as you progress, more will be revealed, and each manuscript he reads is damn well written. So well, in fact, that you'll find yourself wanting to collect more, just to let yourself become more absorbed into the story... though it's a spoil sport when it reads "behind him is a chainsaw wielding maniac", and there he is, the chainsaw wielding maniac, ready to cut Alan's head off. WHOA DUDE THAT'S *bleep*EN SCARY BRO!
Actually, this game can feel kind of scary at times, mostly because of the environment and its colors. Each pixel of the forest and note of any song that plays while in said forest works together to deliver quite an atmosphere. The only issue is in repetition. You'll be going through this forest quite a number of times, and without any other scary looking environments during this eight or so hour adventure outside of the city at night, the atmosphere wears right off, and then it just comes across as pretty, rather than tense. Really, I think this game would've been better if it was a two hour movie, rather than an eight hour game. But I'm getting ahead of myself here...
In Alan Wake, you have to shoot down The Taken. Like with the Resident Evil games, you can't move and shoot at the same time, though like Resident Evil 4/5, the camera isn't stationary and in the worst places to make shooting as awkward as a nerd's first date - it prefers to be over the shoulder, and moves to face what Alan's facing. It's not quite that simple, though. See, The Taken have to be stripped of their dark shields with either your flashlight or some flares (flares are the lighting equivalent of nukes for these guys) before you can shoot them down. You'll know when they're vulnerable when the little beam at the end of your torch turns into a little circle, and it's tricky to get the hang of because it's kind of easy to miss, but after a while, you'll be able to kick ass and chew bubblegum as you lay waste to dark beings.
Oftentimes, you'll find supplies that will be needed either as ammo for your guns (pistol, shotgun and hunting rifle), or as a means of healing (coffee thermos). Sometimes, you'll encounter some flashbangs which can be used for uninterrupted escapes, and you'll also find batteries to recharge your flashlight as its power sinks lower and lower until it stops working. What sucks is that you lose your inventory if Alan is to ever fall unconscious, or if the episode ends. So if you're one to collect a lot of items but not use too many of them because you don't feel the need to use a lot, prepare to get pissed off a lot as you'll need to keep looking and looking for replacements in the next episode!
Sounds great, doesn't it? Yeah, well, like the atmosphere, the gameplay loses it after you realize you have to go through the forest over and over again to do the exact same shit you did in the first chapter. There's just no spark to it, no drive to continue on. Nothing strikes as exciting after the second episode (of which there are six), and in the last couple of episodes, I swear to *bleep*ing god, I just wanted to find a helicopter and some nukes so I can blow the whole *bleep*ing thing up - because you're going to be fighting off even more enemies like it was so goddamn exciting and as if it totally didn't wear out its welcome. It was all good in the earlier chapters because it was every few minutes, but then it's like every second, and as much as I like to feel like I'm playing a video game, the gameplay is not this game's strongest suit, mostly because every encounter is about the same. A car flies towards you. Groups of possessed townspeople try to molest you. Most of these situations feel exactly the same... Yeah, I know most hack and slash games I like have repetition, but it's only the core gameplay that's repeated, whereas here in Alan Wake, I swear, it feels like I've powered up these generators and killed these enemies in this exact spot for the past few chapters, and I got a feeling I'll be doing it until the very last second!
Ohoho, what's that you fans are telling me? "It's supposed to be played one episode per day" - that's nice that you're willing to defend the game, but even when you do that, everything still feels redundant to the point where it just gets mind numbingly tedious.
You know what this could be on account of? Crappy difficulty. Seriously, if you're considering purchasing and playing this game, play this on the hardest difficulty setting, because then it feels less tedious. On normal, it feels as if you're just plodding along (with that said, the later stages are fairly tricky), but on nightmare, it definitely has that survival aspect, forcing you to use items only when in dire need and to reserve ammo. But even then, it feels pretty tedious because the redundancy will wear you down to the point of not wanting to play it after a while, but it at least challenges you, so there's a little more excitement to look forward to..
Oh, and before people scramble onto the comments section to tell me that I missed the daytime section, here - you go from point to point, and watch a bunch of cutscenes. There. Happy? Then again, I provided somewhat legitimate criticism for this game - course people won't be happy.
On the plus side, the presentation is fantastic. The graphics are amazing! Each of the two or three locations you visit throughout are rendered ever so well with the right amount of texture detail, as well as the right textures, making them look realistic. The character models also look like real life people almost down to the smallest detail. Yeah, the lip syncing sucks, but I guess they were too lazy to make them sync with the English language, preferring to keep it to their native Finnish tongue. Oh well, it's not much skin off my nose – it doesn't really take away from the story or anything, it just looks a little wonky. Anyway, the Taken look pretty menacing and could potentially scare the shit out of you, though you only fight against a couple of different sorts and their presence stops meaning much to you outside of more shit to kill... it's just how it goes people. Oh, and what Alan Wake review isn't complete without the reviewer detailing how sexy the lighting effects of this game are? Seriously though, the lighting is *bleep*ing excellent. It's very realistic with the right amount of light and darkness for each part of the environments and the situation at hand, with no half assed portions at all.
As for the soundtrack, it's good. There are some ambient passages here and there to give the atmosphere a little kick, and the licensed soundtrack also sounds pretty kickass. I find it funny how there's a cheesy pop song that closes each episode.. I don't know, just a little thing worth pointing out, because that's all I can really say about the soundtrack. Unfortunately, the voice acting isn't that good. I mean, most of the cast sound good and manage to convey their lines with no problems, especially the cheesy enemies, with this somewhat exaggerated demonic voice and unintentionally funny lines (like I'm telling you what they say – it's funnier if you hear it from them, rather than reading it here). Alan, however, prefers to give Garfield competition, as his voice acting suggests that he's (the actor) bored out of his mind and just wants the pay cheque. Come on dude, if voice acting a guy makes you bored, I'd hate to see you play the game you did the voice acting for! Since his voice is the one you'll hear the most,
If execution, graphics, story and first impressions were all that mattered, Alan Wake would be deserving of all the praise it got. Unfortunately, the gameplay just got boring, unintuitive and lackluster as it progressed, and the atmosphere just stopped existing. Everything else is great, but it just begs the question - why couldn't it just be a movie and not a video game? I thought games were meant to be fun, not redundancy with great cinematics!
About the author
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