Game Reviews
Review: Alan Wake
By Sean Booker
June 20, 2010 - 09:27

Studios: Remedy Entertainment
Rating: T
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1

Alan Wake is a third person shooter that focuses heavily on a strong narrative and engaging atmosphere. Like past Remedy games, Alan Wake chooses to take the standard techniques of its genre and fuel it with great and deep story telling. Along with a great story, the atmosphere and mood that the game sets up only helps to positively drive Alan Wake’s experience. Though some of the combat feels tedious, its unique controls help make it memorable.

You play as writer and general flashlight lover Alan Wake as you accompany your wife to the rural and picturesque Bright Falls. After suffering through two years of writer’s block, you and your wife, Alice, thought it would be best if you took a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of a best seller’s life. However, your quite time away turns awry when suddenly your wife goes missing and the darkness itself begins to put your life at risk.

The best aspect about Alan Wake is the story that unfolds and the world it creates. The way the game is told is fantastic; whether this be the protagonist’s narrative, or by confusing and metaphor filled manuscript pages spread out amongst the world. Alan Wake also does a good job of keeping this world alive through its use of lighting. Though this may be a third person shooter at heart, the game also has a very strong survival horror theme to itself. With the amount of dense forest and the use of shadows all around you, you can easily find yourself lost in what is generally a pretty straight forward path.

The lighting in this game alone is something to mention. Throughout the story you will find that any form of light will help you in some way. Whether this be a lamp post acting as a check point and health regenerator, or a flood light to clear out some enemies. Along with this, your goal in each area is always some form of illuminated substance, or just a bright area off in the distance. The shadows created by the dense forest and the thick fog that will impair your vision make for some great looking scenes.

Along with the lighting, the rest of the game looks wonderful. Every model looks great and the areas you find yourself in are even better. To help this, there are quite a few locations in the game and camera shots designed just to show you the place your in. There were several times in the game that I was just in awe with how nice this mountain side looked. There are also many particle effects throughout the game that, partnered with the light, make for some wonderful effects.

The collectables in Alan Wake are also quite interesting. For the most part, you will be searching for the dozens and dozens of manuscript pages, or coffee thermoses. There also other objects to find – TVs, radios – but for the most part you’ll stick to the pages and containers. The manuscript pages are much more interlaced into the game and its story considering they reveal events that have yet to come/are already taking place. These cause the world to become even more obscure and the story to become deeper. For the most part you will find these on your general path through the game and are quite hard to miss. One other example is the radios. These are show broadcasts of one of the town’s folk as the events are taking place throughout the game. This adds another perspective on the weird and unusual circumstances going on in Bright Falls. Each of the collectibles are well done and add something new and interesting to the game.

One of Alan Wake’s key flaws is the gun play. Though the game works hard to make you feel like you’re in a forest littered with shadowed enemies, the fighting can ruin this by becoming very tiresome. Throughout each of the game’s six episodes, you will constantly be faced with countless enemies to fight off and defend yourself against. To preface this, the main idea behind the combat is casting enough light on your enemies in order to destroy all the shadows. After destroying the enemies’ dark veil, they now become vulnerable to your firearms. This system is quite unique and interesting for a while but Alan Wake loses this nice aspect when it causes you to deal with far too many enemies. Though the game would feel a lot shorter without the numerous combat sections, the story and pacing of the game is greatly hindered on how often you need to fight.

Along with this, Alan Wake’s next most irritating issue is that some of the great voice over sections don’t sync up with the movement of the character models. Too many times did I see the game’s atmosphere get completely ruined by some puppet-like audio issues happening with a character’s mouth. This was a real shame since I found the choice of voice actors perfect for each of the in game characters.

Alan Wake is a game that focuses so heavily on its wonderful story telling, that it leaves the player wanting nothing else. The combat in this game is unique and feels great but, with the constant overuse and amount of enemies you’ll be pitted against, you’ll find it slows down the game’s pacing and hinders the overall event. The game also looks great with some really interesting camera shots and the lighting used throughout only helps set up a great mood. Last, the story telling would have been near perfect if it weren’t for some audio issues noticed throughout. Overall, Alan Wake does a good job of setting up a great atmosphere and beautiful area, and despite the irritating amount of enemies, it’s a lot of fun.


Rating: 8/10

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Review: Alan Wake