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    Alan Wake

    Game » consists of 13 releases. Released May 14, 2010

    When famous novelist Alan Wake goes on vacation with his wife Alice, he has no idea that the idyllic town of Bright Falls will soon be the site of a terrible battle between light and dark that could threaten everything, even Wake's own sanity.

    rainvillain's Alan Wake (Xbox 360) review

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    The Hits and Misses: Alan Wake

    The HITS

    •  Fantastic Storytelling, start to finish. I thought this was gunna be this sorta cheesy Twin Peaks/ Stephen King spoof but it really comes into its own. The characters are fairly well done, the plot and background mythology go into Lost-calibre nuttiness while remaining coherent. The gameworld is littered with clues that are really easy to miss. It kinda reminds me of Bioshock in that to really enjoy this game you have to take it really really slowly. So many visual hints and clues hidden off the beaten path, so many conversations with locals that are easily missed. The TV format also allows a lot of awesome cliffhangers at the end of the episodes and the the "season finale" sets things up so well for the upcoming pieces of DLC and the (hopefully!) sequel. If this were any other game, I'd feel cheated on the end (basically, not that much is resolved and a lot of important elements are left up in the air), but since the whole format flows like a TV show it just made a lot of sense. It felt like a great Lost season finale, with a lot of huge information bombs but also some huge "oh shit moments" before the credits. Red Dead Redemption has a much better ending, but Alan Wake's is just as classy, with the second last line from the game being good enough to warrant a "boom L O S T" right after being uttered. Goddamn!

    • Like LOST, everyone and everything feels important. Every character you meet has a real importance for the plot (yes, that includes the old rocker geezers and the lamp lady at the diner). I love Twin Peaks but it really feels like you could strip away half its characters: Alan Wake has this beat by making everyone really relevant. If a character has a name, they have a deep backstory. I'm embarrassed that a 10 hour horror game has more character development than most 50 hour JRPGs. Even somewhat annoying characters like Barry (the agent) have some moments to shine (at one point he starts wearing coloured christmas lights across his body to protect himself from the dark). One quick note though: every character model is ugly. And not ugly in a "this looks unrealistic"-type (although the lip-sync is pretty bad), I just mean every one in the game just looks... kinda ugly.. I guess "realistic"..

    • AtmosFEAR. The game really nails that feeling of being scared while in the dark like nothing I've played before. Having the trees shake, the clouds and random flashing lights flashing by, the wind getting crazy, and everything having this sorta of dark fuzz on it.. it's weird and freaky (and come to think of it, headache-enducing). I'd say 10% of all in-game fears are simply seeing something completely inanimate from a funky angle and thinking it's something else.  Either way, it's scary. The game is so stressful. It's nowhere near as jumpy as something like Dead Space but the fears feel a bit more sincere and brought upon by atmosphere and stress. In this respect it's more like the Ring than say, jump-crazy Drag Me To Hell. The last level in particular I was so stressed. Ran away from a lot of fights.

    • Soundtrack!!! The original score is by someone who's name I don't recognize but it's fantastic. I think the reason why is because it doesn't sound like a horror movie score. Actually, it sounds more like a tragic movie or something. A lot of violins, pianos and minor chords, not too different from some of the original tracks from the Bioshock soundtrack actually. Also like Bioshock, a lot of really appropriate licensed music. I'm not a big Nick Cave fan but when this starts playing on the radio... goddamn it's scary!! Not all of it is perfect (some of it fully sucks), but its an eclectic mix of stuff ( Bowie plays to the credits roll -- which can be fast-forwarded by pressing up on the analog stick whaaat!!!!)
     
    The MISSES
     
    • Gameplay variety get? As much as I like the combat, there's no variety. One pistol, two shotguns and one hunting rifle. Those are the only weapons. Oh and three types of flashlights. The game could have taken a page from the Resident Evil series and allow you to upgrade your weapons (either through levelling or buying mods). It's unfortunate that by about 75% of the way through the game, the game itself just felt like a barrier in the way of getting to the cool story revelations: it gets kinda tiring. Also, the daytime levels are so cool because it's a nice change of pace.. but they're always mega-linear and gimped (you never have your guns, lights, or the ability to jump during the day). It feels like two games, with the daytime stuff potentially just as interesting but ends up too limited. This game really should have been open world since the city they've created has so much detail and feels rich. You eventually visit most of the town so its not a question of them having not "built" the open world. Had this game been a more expansive, open world game with RPG elements to the gunplay.. it could have easily been my game of the year.

    • AtmosFAIL: This game has the worst HUD I've seen in a major release. Not being able to remove the text covering a chunk of the screen telling you where to go is embarrassing. The health bar seems pointless considering it does the sound/light saturation and health regeneration like every other game on the planet. The map always only has your (only) objective, so give us a smaller arrow or something instead of a full circle. The ammo and weapon symbol should fade when you're not using it.. it just really takes you away from the chilling atmosphere and reminds you that this is DEFINITELY a game. This is the only thing I want (realistically) to be patched in.
       Yes, we get it already...
       Yes, we get it already...
     

     
     
     
     
     
     BUT IN THE END
     

    Fantastic storytelling reminiscent of the tangled webs of intrigue that is LOST, along with great characters, backstories and a detailed setting, mixed with fantastic licensed and original music help create an extremely rich game world that is interesting and scary as hell. The gameplay, while extremely sharp, fails to evolve, so by the 8 hour mark you've basically seen everything the game has to throw at you mechanically. More weapon and enemy variety (leveling up or gun/flashlight mods? -- Resident Evil 4 nailed this years ago!) would have definitely helped the late-game monotony. The jarring screen-filling HUD tries its best to remove you from the experience but thankfully the horror has so much style that it remains stressful  and slick all the way through.

    There are so many things I wish this game did better or differently, but if I take away those wishes, I'm still left with a really satisfying game. Highest recommendations, ideally with headphones, at nighttime, playing it slowly, sipped like a fine wine.

    Other reviews for Alan Wake (Xbox 360)

      After five years in the making, it's time to wake up 0

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      Fright Train to Awesometown 0

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