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Wake's American Nightmare
Score:8.0 / 10
The good news with Alan Wake's American
Nightmare is that it confirms that more Alan Wake is on the way. This
writer is all for that!
I revel in the weirdness of the Alan Wake
fiction. Is this all actually happening or is it taking place in
someone's unconscious mind? Alan's mind or the mind of his nemesis, Mr.
Scratch? How does the flashlight battery re-charge itself like that? How
long has Alan been stuck in this crazy time loop?
That last question springs from the central plot point of American
Nightmare. If you remember an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation
where the Enterprise-D is locked in this time loop that always ends in
the destruction of the ship. Did you like it? Then you'll have no
problem with American Nightmare. But if you're like my wife, who
literally snapped our DVD copy of Groundhog
Day in half so I'd never suggest watching it again, then you'll be
disappointed with the time travel conceit that runs throughout American
But if you've already bellied up to the table of Alan Wake's craziness,
why not enjoy that bit of time travelling? Besides, running through each
area multiple times -- playing out a little differently each time --
offers the chance for more exposition or at least some half-cocked
explanations of what the hell is actually happening and what happened
after the events of "The Writer" DLC.
The story can be played through pretty quickly but I found myself
itching to restart the game after it was over, if only to find more
manuscript pages to "complete" the fiction.
The manuscript pages are used to unlock
weapon cases in the story campaign and in the Arcade mode, which does a
good job showcasing the combat.
"Showcasing" should be read with a tinge of sarcasm (even if the guns
themselves are pretty damn awesome). The Arcade mode simply demonstrates
the shortcomings of the gunplay as Alan squares off against wave after
wave of Taken in an arena setting. The combat works better when there's
space to work with and the appearance of the taken can be more or less
predicted. Alan Wake works better as a paranormal, weird story/adventure
game with some light gunplay so when the story is stripped out of the
equation... it feels hollow.
I'm not convinced that anyone who hasn't already played the original
game -- which is available on Xbox 360 for $20US most places, and
just launched on PC with the DLC episodes -- would be able to even
marginally follow what the hell is going on in American Nightmare. No
doubt it would up the bizarreness of the game for those players but the
main draw is more or less for fans only. And, really, this writer is
okay with that.