Let's Shake N' Wake
Alan Wake is a single-player story gamer's dream. Action packed combat, a roller coaster storyline and gameplay simply oozing with graphical magic. Since the announcement of Alan Wake in 2005 gamers have patiently waited on the development of Wake - so long some thought it was vaporware. But after 5 years of waiting, the game arrived.
Wake is not your typical game protagonist. He's a writer, and a bit of an egotistical one at that. After traveling to the Pacific Northwest with his wife for a vacation, Wake's wife is kidnapped and all sorts of strange things begin to happen. Armed with revolvers, rifles and shotguns, Alan must find any source of light possible to fend of "the taken", local townspeople possessed by a dark presence. Gameplay is, well, unique. The element of light mixed with bullets makes for a frenetic and intense combat experience. Managing ammunition, battery power and inventories isn't complex but it demands your attention. The game forces players to conserve their firepower and think strategically about
getting through levels. The weapons are extremely realistic - you won't find any chainsaw guns or oversized plasma swords. But the realism does hamper the creativity of developer as well. More weapons could have - and should have been implemented. When it comes to enemies, they don't vary too greatly. The Taken consist of about 4 different classes of "people". Some bigger, some faster, but nothing too imposing. What becomes scary about them is not their size or speed, but that they gang up on Wake and cause a lot of chaos in groups. The dark presence also possesses inanimate objects and throws them at Wake. It's a sort of poltergeist effect that does help change the pace of action.
One of the first things that jumps out at players is the stunning graphics. Never have I seen the Xbox 360 pump out such gorgeous visuals. It's a testament to the long development cycle and to the engine created for the game. The environments are extremely detailed. They "feel" real. I played this game with headphones on - and I'd highly recommend it. The sound is fantastic, minus a few weak voice actors. The freaky atmosphere is enhanced by the audio...it's clear Remedy did their homework and spent a couple nights in the woods. The characters in the story can't be ignored, either. While there are some weak performances, most of them are very solid and definitely add to the aura of the setting and storyline.
The parts of the game that struggle are a bit surprising. Voice acting and lip-synching are some of the more glaring at times, which shocked me considering the game is so cinematic. The game also does get a bit repetitive towards the end. Let's hope future DLC and sequels have more variety, including weapons and enemies.
All in all, Alan Wake is worth the price of admission. It's tightly wound story will please most players, and the realism is something found in few games. Bravo - Now let's see a sequel quickly. I'm already tired of waiting.