Alan Wake Review

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by KillerWhiteMan, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. KillerWhiteMan

    KillerWhiteMan Burnout Racer

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    Alan Wake Review

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    Very few games that get stuck in development turn out to be decent in any sense of the word. Alan Wake is one of those rare gems that almost looked like it would never see the light of day (you’ll get that pun if you are familiar with the game). Now that Alan Wake is out, I can tell you that the game does not disappoint at all, despite being stuck in development for close to 6 years. I will try and keep the review as spoiler free as possible. This is my first in-depth review and may be a bit long, so bare with me…here we go.

    I’ll be blunt, Alan Wake may very well be the best story-driven game created up to this point. Earlier this year I was taken with the story telling in Heavy Rain (PS3 exclusive). I thought Heavy Rain was the best story in a game that I had ever played, but now Alan Wake has taken the top spot.

    Alan Wake is a game built on story telling, and immersing the player in the game’s world. The game spans six episodes that are set up like a television series. Each episode starts off fairly calm, usually set in the day time. However once the sun goes down, the excitement and intensity of the game picks up, and just as you are working to the end of the episode, it ends in a cliffhanger. This sets the stage for the next episode. There is a brief “Previously on Alan Wake” intro to each episode that does a great job of catching the player up on what has happened in the game so far. This isn’t as important to players that are continuously playing from one episode to the next, but they are helpful for players that have taken a short break after they have finished an episode. The only issue I had with this system was that I think it would have been more effective if it gave you a “Previously on Alan Wake” whenever you started the game again after turning it off. I know some people would be annoyed by this, but Alan Wake really has a lot going on and the “refresher course” if you will, would be helpful. I enjoyed this feature in Alone in the Dark. Not the best game, but at least I always knew what was happening with the story.

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    Yes, it's safe to assume this guy is probably coming to kill me.

    The game starts off very calm with writer Alan Wake and his wife Alice heading to a place called Bright Falls for a long-overdue vacation. Alice goes missing and it quickly becomes apparent that Alan’s search for her will be anything but easy or normal. Wake soon finds himself in a realm of paranormal activity, where he is forced to fight for his life and do so by any many means necessary.

    The game does a great job of conveying the feelings of the characters, and how they relate to the world around them. Throughout the game, Wake has a monologue that conveys his thoughts on this strange situation he finds himself in. This is very effective in offering some insight into Wake’s thoughts. What makes this little feature so effective is that it is done without bringing any other characters into the mix. Normally players would learn about the character’s thoughts through a conversation with another character. By having the monologue, Remedy has added to the sense of isolation that Wake is experiencing.

    One thing I really enjoyed about Alan Wake is that it was very rewarding to the player that wants to explore Bright Falls and try to learn more about this nightmare going on in Bright Falls. By going off of the “beaten path,” players will find all types of goodies. We’ll start with the manuscript pages. I won’t go into details about them, but let’s just say they offer a ton of information about everything in the game, particularly the characters and the plot. There is one twist about the manuscript pages that I can offer that really isn’t a spoiler: the pages are written by Wake himself, but he does not remember doing it. Many of the pages are found on the direct path, but most of them are found in spots that can only be found by leaving the path and taking a risk in doing so; you never who is waiting for you. There are also a number of radio broadcasts that offer deeper insight into the local culture and its inhabitants.


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    *Sigh* Something just tells me it's going to be a very long night.

    Remedy has also created an in-game television series called “Night Springs,” which is similar to the Twilight Zone. You really get the sense of how small of a town Bright Falls is. Everyone knows one another, and it shows through the character interactions. Remedy has done a superb job of not only creating this interesting town, but coming up with creative ways to give the player a deeper look into its culture, and pulling them in even further.

    Now let’s get into the mechanics of the game. Wake’s enemies are people that have been taken over by darkness, and must be weakened by light before they can be damaged. Combat fast and fluid, and not complicated at all. Remedy decided to keep things simple, and in this case it works very well. Wake’s arsenal of weapons is very limited, but that is not a bad thing. Weapons include a revolver, shotgun (2 types), a hunting rifle and a flare gun. The flare gun acts like a rocket launcher when shot at enemies. There are also two throwable weapons: flares and flashbangs. Perhaps the most important tool at Wake’s disposal is his flashlight. There are different types of flashlights that you will come across in the game, each offering different light intensity and different battery life times. While the first instinct of players will be to attack the enemy groups, that may not be the best case in a situation. In some instances, enemies will continue to come after you until you reach the next “Safe Haven,” which is usually under a beacon of light. It is actually quite enjoyable to run away from enemies, using your dodge move to avoid axes and blades that may come your way. It builds a ton of tension when all hell is breaking loose around you, and you have 3-4 people coming after you. So kudos again to Remedy for creating a combat system where it is just as much fun to turn and run as it is to stand and fight.


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    Yes that's right, my flashlight is more powerful than my gun right now.

    The story of Alan Wake is one that requires the player to pay close attention at almost all times. That’s not to say that the story is hard to follow, there is simply many important details that need to be absorbed by the player in order for them to fully appreciate the game. In order to get all of the manuscript pages, players will have to play a second time on Nightmare difficulty, which is unlocked after beating the game the first time on any difficulty. If you find all of the manuscript pages, listen to the radio broadcasts, and soak up all of the info that can be found in Bright Falls, you will be rewarded even more when you play again on Nightmare and get those last pages. The game is really to be appreciated on the harder difficulties, so do yourself a favor and start it on Hard and then play again on Nightmare (you’ll be fine I promise).

    Here comes the technical analysis of the game. A game can have a great story and gameplay, but what also gets a player’s attention? Graphics of course! Alan Wake doesn’t raise the bar for game graphics like Killzone 2 or Uncharted 2 did, but what it does, it does well. The graphics engine runs between 540p and 720p. The real star of the graphics is the superb lighting job (this is not a surprise due to the large role that light plays in the game). The character animations are very well done. You can see the emotions of the characters through their facial expressions quite clearly. The level scenery of the game is very well created and does a great job of creating the game’s mood and atmosphere. There is some screen tearing present, but I only noticed it here and there. You won’t notice it too much if you are tuned into the game itself.

    The sound of Alan Wake is really something to be commended. As you would expect from a game such as this, sound plays a large role in creating the tone. You will hear sounds in while in a forest that will absolutely make your skin crawl. The sound sets up the atmosphere and really conveys the sense of constant dread that is surrounding Wake during his journey. Voice acting is carried out extremely well, with Wake’s voiceover stealing the show (as you may imagine). Not all of the voice actors have the same quality but all in all, the group does a great job. The game’s licensed soundtrack comes into play periodically throughout the game. A nice and varied track list made even better by the game’s original score.


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    If you're thinking this little ride will end badly...well, you're probably right.

    I really only had one gripe with Alan Wake. The product placement may in fact be the worst I have seen in my gaming career. The advertisements are right in your face, and not subtle in the least. Thankfully there are only a few different companies being advertised, but the ads did distract me from the game every once and a while; just because I couldn't believe the in-your-face approach to the advertising. This will most likely only catch you off guard 2-3 times throughout the game, unless you are specifically looking for the ad placements. The game will last around 10-12 hours long, with each episode lasting between 2-2.5 hours. As the game’s boxart suggests, it is a “Psychological Action Thriller.” It is more thriller and suspense than anything else but believe me, it has quite a few scares that are simply chilling. There are many parts of the game that offer comic relief and allow the player to recharge before the sun goes down and the darkness takes control of the situation. I think this review has lasted long enough, so I’ll end it here! Remedy has created a true masterpiece here, and this is definitely GOTY material. I give Alan Wake a well-deserved perfect 10/10. Do yourself a favor and play this game!

    Story - 10/10
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9.5/10
    Gameplay - 10/10

    Final Score - 10/10
     
    Wandsbek, Trebor, zzjjzz and 2 others like this.
  2. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter Resident Nutter Staff Member

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    Firstly great work on the review, very detailed and certainly a good read.
    You confirm a lot of things I gathered from watching various videos of the game on YouTube and of course convinced me I should play though the game!

    I hope to see more reviews like this in the future (Y)
     
  3. AntiNaz

    AntiNaz Addict

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    Gorgeous review, WhiteBoy! ;) Keep these up for other games that will soon be released! Do a Spidey WOS review since you just played through it! Also, you should do a summary in the end of the good, the bad, and the ugly things about the game. (Bugs, issues, things that bothered you while playing, etc.) Just my opinion on reviews as sometimes I do not wish to read a 100000 paragraph review ;)
     
  4. KillerWhiteMan

    KillerWhiteMan Burnout Racer

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    That's what the last paragraph on this review is. I only had one complaint about Alan Wake, so there was not much to do in that paragraph.

    I am currently working on a couple more reviews that will be kept secrets for now :-#. I will have more in the near future if you guys want to see them!
     
  5. AntiNaz

    AntiNaz Addict

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    Alright, sounds good, Killer!
     
  6. deamon0

    deamon0 Active Member

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    So you finished playing the game huh? Good in detailed review. I have not yet bought the game, but after reading your review I decided, I'll definitely play it soon! :D
    I enjoy playing such games, having previously played Max Payne and Max payne 2 on PC, I will be expecting something more exciting from this game. I can't wait.

    Thank you for your awesome review. Keep it up! (Y)
     
  7. Scarface0415

    Scarface0415 Banned

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    i heard alan wake was like a thriller movie
     
  8. AntiNaz

    AntiNaz Addict

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    By far one of the best games i've ever played.
     
  9. Corona

    Corona Addict

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    i agree too bad i can only play it on my jtag :(
     
  10. robert_kendo

    robert_kendo Active Member

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    thanks for the review...i really like alan wake..its a fantastic game!!
     
  11. MikkelPixel

    MikkelPixel Resident

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    i love this game very under rate IMo
     
  12. Michael_T

    Michael_T Addict

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    Great review , thanks ! :D
     
  13. HCL.

    HCL. Well-Known Member

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    Very Decent game. Thanks for the review.
     

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