By Alphazero 1 Comments
I like the combat in Alan Wake, so calibrate accordingly. The two-stage attack of first burning off the darkness with the flashlight, then finishing the job with some sort of gun (plus the slow movement speed of The Taken) results in the combat being more about crowd management than twitch action. As the horde comes in, your tasks as the player become making sure you're not hit, managing the darkness on the Taken, managing your flashlight's battery life, managing your ammo, and removing the baddies from the field one by one. It's fun for me, an interesting juggling act. All that plus a well timed dodge move and an amazing, trippy story line equals good times.
That said, the new stand-alone game Alan Wake's American Nightmare *almost* gets away with the dirty trick it plays. Broad story spoilers to follow.
It's after the events of the DLC from the first Alan Wake game, and he's starting to turn the corner on his situation. He knows, more or less, how to manage things in the Darkness. He's faced his demons. He's still a writer with a flashlight and a pistol, but he understands the ground rules and is making the right moves. He's still a great protagonist. Alan Wake isn't the problem, he's the strength. The problem is you go through the same levels not once, not twice, but three times through the course of the story.
Alan Wake is trapped by his nemesis Mr. Scratch in a time loop which requires him, and the increasingly-aware-of-the-situation hotties he interacts with, to go through the same motions again and again until Alan can arrange things at the end to his advantage. They do change things up between the runs, making each one easier and slightly different, but by the third time through I was well over it, even if it is a neat plot device.
It is more Alan Wake, and that is a good thing. The world still looks fantastic: astoundingly detailed set-dressing, beautiful lighting, excellent moodiness that doesn't overdo the tension for my chicken heart, and some female NPCs that, well, let's just say it's a video game. I didn't mind. There's also some perfect Full Motion Video messages from Mr. Scratch that appear on TVs throughout the world that completely get everything that's wonderful about Alan Wake just right.
Outside of the story it's a wave based survival mode on several different maps that are fun (if you like the combat) and not too challenging on the easy levels. The Twilight Zone style narration alone makes it worth the time.
It's short, but considering the dirty time loop trick, not short enough story-wise. It's fun. It's more Alan Wake. There's not enough Barry, but personally I'm hoping they're saving all the good Barry for Alan Wake 2. If Alan Wake 2 has an unlockable christmas tree light avatar costume, and you have my $60. If it has a co-op campaign with Alan and Barry, I'm getting the collectors edition. Barry is the heart of Alan Wake.