Alan Wake Review

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Posted May 12, 2010 by Marshall in Reviews, Xbox 360

When you hear the name Remedy Games the first thing you think about is Max Payne. If you’ve forgotten about their project Alan Wake until just recently, then you’re not alone. This game has been in development for about six years and for, four of those years that game sort of dropped of the radar.

Today, it’s a completely different story. Advertisements for the game are everywhere, we’ve got live action shorts, and trailers are flooding Youtube. Remedy is definitely on everyones watch list right now. With the game in development for so long, is it any good?

Yes, its very, very good.

Alan Wake has you play as, yes, Alan Wake who has writers block. So he decides to go on vacation with his wife in Bright Falls. It’s a nice town for awhile and the characters you meet are very like-able and you don’t mind hearing what they have to say. They feel real and interesting and it’s almost depressing in a way because you know this game will get bad.  It does get bad too, almost as quick as you met the townsfolk.

From that point on, the game is dark, gloomy, grim, and scary. All thanks to one character that you immediately mark as evil. Your wife goes missing, the townsfolk all become possessed, and they all want to kill you. The best part of this game is the atmosphere is creates. You’re as clueless as he is when you start to play, and it really adds to the tension and suspense.

You will experience several of the “Oh my God, I’m about to die” moments.

You’ll spend a lot of time in the dark, morbid woods full of people whose only purpose is to see you dead. The only catch is that they can not be harmed by anything but light. So the game gives you a flashlight to make them vulnerable. This makes for one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve had in a game since Dead  Space. You are never completely comfortable when you’re in woods even when you get the flashlight because it only points in one direction. Your back is always exposed and you will always be looking over your shoulder. There are some safe havens, like streetlights or well lit buildings and you’ll fall in love with them. Spend as much time there as possible because the few times you are surrounded by light, you will cherish ever second of it.

Graphically the game is beautiful and darkness has never looked so good. Moonlight realistically shimmers off of wet rocks and other foliage that surrounds you.These woods are very much a character in the game as it will set the tone of your experience. Character models are also something to be admired; Alan Wake in particular. The close ups that take place while playing show how much detail was taken into making him seem as realistic as possible. Everything from his shoes to the fibers on his blazer look astonishing and really demonstrate the power of the Xbox 360. The movement of the characters mouths however seem a bit awkward and you can’t help but notice it when they give character close ups.

In addition to the gorgeous graphics, you owe a lot of your experience to the games excellent sound engineering. Hearing the trees blow in the wind, the footsteps of people following you, and the sounds of  axes and machetes dragging on the ground will get your heart beating erratically in this fantastic action-horror game. As you play Alan Wake, you realize that you’re playing a cleverly disguised third person shooter.

The beam of light works as your aiming reticle, flashbangs function as grenades, batteries are your magazines, and flares guns are your rocket launchers. You do get several guns, but having them  without light renders them useless. Remedy has created a nice, needed break from the cover based shooters that are being made right now and it’s refreshing.

This game presents itself like a well polished TV series. As you progress through the games superb story, each “episode” ends with a climax or a major reveal like the popular TV shows today. Each time it ends, all you want to do is play more and more and more and you will not get tired of the game at all. With each episode that begins, it gives you a recap of the previous episodes. Like a season in a television series and it’s brilliant. This game could pave the way for episodic content in the future. The way this game is set up will definitely be seen again in the near future because it’s executed so perfectly.

Just like our TV shows, the story for this game is fantastic. Everything unfolds so smoothly and nothing really seems too ridiculous.There is one section that is directly out of a Stephen King book and it’s referenced that way in the game as well. That’s the inclusion of possessed  objects. It does seem a bit out there, but being that he’s a writer who lists Stephen King as his reference a few times, it makes sense but still seems a tad weird. That is a minor complaint in an otherwise exceptional game.

For the first half of the game, it’s all a big mystery and you’re engulfed with figuring out what’s going in the Bright Falls community. Then the game takes starts to rev up and becomes a much more action oriented and you feel so empowered to be Alan Wake at this point.

To go from being lost, scared and confused to being completely in control of the situation is extremely rewarding. One section of the game in particular really turns up the action. There’s a scene where you and your agent Barry have to fend of a couple of waves of the possessed on an old rundown concert stage. There’s pyro and fireworks and storm lights going off. It’s one of the best moments of the game, but the only problem is that a game has already done that before. If this game had came out sooner, it would have trumped that easily.

Remedy has delivered on this game on just about all levels. It will have you cherish the light, despise the woods, and just which that the darkness never existed. The game is just a blast and has set a pretty high bar for any games that decide to follow in its’ footsteps. Alan Wake will have you  wanting to go through the game a second time on the unlockable Nightmare difficulty and beware because that game becomes unbelievably difficult. Rewarding, but difficult. Remedy did an excellent job with this and they should continue to make games of this caliber.


Author

Marshall
Marshall

Video game fanatic since a young age. FIFA expert and all-round sports junky. I dive into various titles and love experiencing new and creative games.


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