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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Microsoft Game Studios

 

Developer

Remedy

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

May 18, 2010

 

 

- Made me afraid of the dark again
- You'll always know what you're supposed to be doing
- Great "serialized" entertainment
- Awesome sound design
- A few really awesome set pieces

 

 

- Nudge in the right direction crosses the line to repeated sharp pokes very quickly
- Some distracting technical "pops" during close-ups
- Enemies that sneak up on you off-screen

 

 

Review: Red Faction: Guerrilla (360)

Review: Resident Evil 5 (360)

Review: Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (XB)

 

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Alan Wake

Score: 8.5 / 10

** UPDATED 8/2/10: The Signal DLC - See below**

 

alan wake          alan wake

 

I find it really hard to say too much that's negative about Alan Wake for the simple fact that it appeals to me on so many levels.

It takes a "serialized" approach, with very distinct "episodes"; the manuscript pages that litter the environment offer insight into what has happened, what's happening

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right now, and what will happen later; Remedy hallmarks, like viking references; the creepy environments; possessed logging equipment; and just the general bad-assery of flashlights grabbed my interest right away and brought me back night after night so I could find out how it all ends.

The closing itself offers little in the way of definite answers, which is okay by me because I get to fill the blanks with

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my own theories. (No, it wasn't purgatory.) While the narrative and plot push forward in a segmented way (and sometimes out of order), which allows some theorizing, the action pushes forward along a linear path.

Not only that, Alan always knows what do to next and where to go. If you have problems seeing the directional HUD and brief description of your current goal (i.e. you're blind and should have that checked out), Alan, as narrator, will cut in with something along the lines of "The button glowed green, and it was the only button around for miles. I had to figure out which button to push."* Much of the time, it's completely groan-inducing, but on more than a few occasions it came as a welcome chuckle/eye-roll.

In Alan Wake, darkness isn't just the absence of light; it's a physical thing that can reach out and grab you. Or hit you with an axe. Since most the game takes place at night the feeling of being closed in, and subjected to the whims of a dark presence that wants Alan dead, is relentless. Brief moments of respite listening to the local radio station or tuning into watch an episode of a "Night Springs" are welcome as is the comic relief supplied by Alan's agent, Barry.

 

alan wake          alan wake


Shielding Alan from the dark presence is light. Light is the key so it's no surprise that light sources are the most powerful items in the game. That pump-action shotgun will simply annoy enemies that haven't had their protective dark coating burned off with Alan's flashlight. Then there's the flare gun and flash bangs. The flare gun is Alan Wake's rocket launcher and you shouldn't be afraid to use it. Alan's inventory is regularly wiped out; if you've got the ammo use the flare gun. The same goes for flash bangs.

And if all else fails: Run to the light.

If Alan learns anything from his experience in Bright Falls, it's that he needs to get his conditioning up. His run is very short-lived. Alan doesn't necessarily need to kill enemies. Stunning them with a hit from his flashlight then running passed is a viable strategy provided you're close to a lamp post (which is almost always a checkpoint). He runs for a bit then huffs and puffs until he catches his breath. It's at those moments all the bad guys Alan just ran by catch up and wail on him. (Alan's slow-motion dodge only works for so long.) Reach the pool of light though and Alan regains his health and the enemies disappear. It's a risk/reward decision that really applies pressure.

After so many years in development, it's kind of a relief to finally play Alan Wake and it was worth the wait. The play of light and shadow, great cinematic moments, and serialized story aspects offer a great experience.

- Aaron Simmer

(May 28, 2010)

 


Alan Wake: The Signal DLC

Score: 8.5/10

 

There were more than a few times during The Signal, Alan Wake's first downloadable episode that I asked no one in particular out loud "Am I doing what I think I'm doing?"

 

The episode starts right where Alan Wake ended -- spoiler: Alice is saved from the Dark Prescence -- and pretty much takes place in Alan's mind. It's a nightmare realm with all manner of metaphors woven into the landscape with Thomas Zane acting as a spirit guide. At times it can be confusing, especially if you try to over think what's happening, but there's actually much less story explored, though there are some answers provided for what happened at the end of the full game (while introducing a handful more). And if that doesn't make any sense, I blame the game.

 

alan wake the signal          alan wake the signal

 

There's more combat packed into the 90 minutes (or so) of the episode over what I remember from the full game. There are some definite callbacks to what happened "previously on Alan Wake" which I really appreciated because it has been a few months since I last played. Oddly enough it made me want to run through an episode or two of the full game because it made me remember, "Oh yeah, that was cool!" There are still some seemingly arbitrary collectibles to find but they're much easier to locate and some of them play into the whole, "This is Alan Wake's mind going haywire" setting.

 

Plus, Barry makes a triumphant, and pretty funny, return.

 

The Signal is free for those that bought Alan Wake new (you kept that card, right?) but it will only set you back 560 Microsoft Points if you came by the copy some other way. It's kind of a safe thing to say here, but The Signal is definitely worth your time.

 

- Aaron Simmer

(August 2, 2010)

 

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