fobwashed's Alan Wake (Xbox 360) review

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If only the combat were a little more interesting


A game that was announced alongside the 360 finally released like what? 4 or 5 years later? Crazy development time but it's finally here and it's actually pretty good!

You play as an author named Alan Wake. He's encountered severe writers block and so he takes a vacation with his wife to a small town called Bright Falls. You get there, some weird shit happens, and the next thing you know, you've woken up at the scene of a car accident with a week long hole in your memory. Your wife is missing, strange shit is happening and you're finding pages from a manuscript that was written by you but you don't recall writing it. To make things even weirder, everything in your manuscript is coming true.

The story is engaging and very interesting While there are some holes here and there, the majority of coincidences and other things that just seem bizzare are also referenced by Alan as you play the game. You're pretty much going through the paces that you set yourself on in your own manuscript. The story was one of the more enjoyable ones I've ever played through and will push you to finish the game to figure out what the hell is going on.
The game is broken up into episodes in a really cool way The entire game consists of 6 episodes. At the end of every episode, there's a big cliffhanger or huge event that'll make you want to continue playing and at the beginning of every new episode, it gives you a cool recap of what happened in the previous episode. It's been done before, but not this well. Really slick.
The atmosphere in the game is really good There's some incredible atmosphere in this game. The graphics up close aren't the best we've seen this generation, but it's pretty good. Most games that have been in development for far too long tend to have visuals that match up with around when the game was announced but this game can stand toe to toe with most games releasing today. The best part of the visuals being the atmosphere created using light and dark and especially in the forested areas.
Has a great balance of scary and action Some games tend to be too scary to enjoy (Fatal Frame) while others have been too actiony to be scary (Resident Evil 5). This game strikes a very nice balance of being scary and still being enjoyable. For anyone who enjoys a good scare, this is a solid choice.
Finding pages of your manuscript is really cool You'll come across pages of your manuscript as you play the game and in many cases, the manuscript will tell you about events that haven't happened yet and will in the future. While you may think that this would end up spoiling surprises and ruining moments, to the contrary, it makes things even more tense when you know that a crazy situation will be coming up sometime in the near future. Also, on many occasions, it ended up building more tension, especially when there were characters I cared about involved and in danger.
Great checkpoint system Whenever I died, I'd get back to where I was at pretty quick. There's frequent and good checkpoints in this game that let you stop playing whenever you've had enough and load right back up into the action. Also, you can skip cutscenes you've already seen before. Always a plus.
The game's world seems very large, open and populated I heard this game started out as a sandbox style open world and if it did, you can really tell because a lot of times you're traveling from one place to another and they all feel logically connected. The world seems cohesive and whole and that adds a lot to the immersion you get playing in it's world.

The combat is pretty great at first but only average by the end of the game The main hook with the combat in this game is that enemies are dark, and you gotta light em up with. . . well, light prior to being able to do any damage to them or take them out. This consists of using everything from flashlights to flares and fires. For the first couple chapters this is great and fun, but near the end of the game it feels more like you're just going through the paces. I found it enjoyable till the end but it did get a little monotonous. It also doesn't help that there's only around 3 or 4 enemy types that you deal with the entire game.
The ending was a little iffy I'm not going to spoil it, but the ending was a little strange. Still, it's not a bad ending, just a strange one but considering how great the story was up until that point, a little bit of a let down.
The character models up close aren't the prettiest This is prolly due to the game having been in development for so long. The models would have looked excellent near system launch years ago but by today's standards, they are sub par. The rest of the game looks good enough that it's only a mild complaint but for a game that relies heavily on character interaction, it sucks that the facial animations are as bad as they are here.

Some manuscript pages you can only collect if you're playing on the hardest difficulty This is a shame because the manuscripts really let you delve deeper into the story and there's no real reason to replay this game once you've finished. I think it's stupid that they decided to only allow you to find certain pages if you play through the game on it's hardest difficulty.

All in all, this game took around 7 or so hours to complete and was a good investment. The story is one of a kind and really cool to play through in video game format. I really felt like I was having a new type of gameplay experience even though it's basically a 3rd person shooter with horror elements due to the cool story and way it's presented. I'd recommend anyone with any kind of interest in either horror, good story or just some free time to try this one.



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