Worth the Wait?
Remedy's Alan Wake, much like their previous product Max Payne, took a long time coming to the stores. It was constantly dropped and picked up. It was repeatedly constructed and broken down. So after six years of waiting Alan Wake finally hit the store, but is it worth it?
For what it’s worth Alan Wake is an enjoyable game. If you took the atmosphere from the first Silent Hill games, the action perspective of Resident Evil 4 and threw in a pinch of , you would have Alan Wake. The game offers nothing new but uses past ideas to good effect.
The story is the strongest point about this game. It is divided into six episodes meaning that it is much structured like a TV show. Each chapter ends with a cliff-hanger and begins with a previously segment. This has advantages in two distinct ways. It is possible to either break up your gaming sessions once an episode is complete as the previously can instantly refresh your mind about prior events. Or it can grant a higher desire to push on and see the next twist in the story. The story itself is about the title character, whom is an author, taking a holiday in the woodland town of Falls. Wake has struggled to write anything original for almost three years now and is on a path to self-destruction. The holiday takes a turn for the worse however and Alan's wife goes missing. In addition to this he loses a week of his life and discovers the manuscript to a book he wrote, despite not remembering to do so. So the story is at heart an investigation story with supernatural elements. The story overall is as wonderfully crafted in comparison to any other major game.
The gameplay as mentioned is not too creative and is probably where the game, if at all, fails. Max Payne had bullet time that was relatively new upon release and was fantastic at giving you an edge over the enemies whilst still being challenging. Wake's advantage comes from a flashlight that is used to lower and enemies defences before unloading gun shots into them. For those that have played Luigi's Mansion on Nintendo Gamecube, using a flashlight to harm enemies is not new. Albeit Alan Wake takes itself more seriously the premise is the same. Alan Wake is essentially a third person shooter of linear proportions. You make your way from point a to b shooting all that moves along the way, occasionally fighting slightly tougher enemies as you progress. If you take the episode by episode approach the game will not begin to tire much until the end. If you, however, take a continuous approach to the game the lack of variety will hit you hard. It is also rather patronising to have a GPS tracker in the top left corner. The game as mentioned is linear, that is not bad, but to have something point your way out in a game that basically only has a single route is a bit much. Overall though Alan Wake is solid in the controls department and for what it lacks in creativity is makes up from in well developed controls.
The soundtrack for the game is another highpoint. Music, such as In Dreams by Roy Orbison, set an eerie yet falsely relaxing environment. Others are very much long the Silent Hill style of spooky sound guitar rifts. There is also another song supplied for Remedy from Poets of the Fall. The voicing acting, much like Max Payne is some of he best. The dialogue flows naturally and emotes realistically. The only problem is that the lip synch was slightly out and just looks plain odd. This is only a minor complaint. The sound effects, the guns shots in particular, are fantastic. All sound effects make the right noise to try and force an action from the player, whether this is to make you jump out of your seat or feel satisfaction at every bullet you fire from a revolver.
Despite this game being is development for nearly six years the graphics do not look to bad. The landscapes of look tremendous whether it is the idealist town or the overviews of the forests and lake. The lighting is very good; this is just as well considering how much emphasis is placed on the use of light in the game. Not much more can be said.
Last but not least the life span of the game is good in terms of pure single player games but possibly not the best you will find in the market. Approximately it will last 9 to 12 hours depending on how much exploring of the area you achieve, difficulty and restarts. Outside of the main game there are a lot of collection quests that you will know before hand if they float your fancy. After completing the game an extra Nightmare difficulty will be unlocked, but considering that the gameplay itself may not support a playthrough without the story, it’s once against player preference if it is worth playing again.
Alan Wake is a very good game. It may not be innovative but the story will keeping you gripped. Was it worth a six year wait? Probably not, but it would have been more of a crime if it had never come out at all. At the end of the game you will be left questioning the outcome and desiring more. Bring on Alan Wake 2.