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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Alan Wake Review

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 So I finally got around to finishing the new thriller/horror game title from Remedy entitled Alan Wake.  If you ghouls remember way back I had a post talking about the upcoming game and how excited I was for it.  Well do you wanna know if it lived up to my expectations?  I have to say that the game did indeed live up to what I was expecting, however I could understand how some may be a bit let down by the finished product.  The game was originally intended to be a "free roaming" type game where you were free to roam about Bright Falls as you pleased during the day and the action and story would unfold during the night sequences.  However during the development cycle Remedy decided to do away with the free roam and instead set the game up as different episodes, each ending with a giant cliffhanger, and doing away with much of the actual "free roaming."  During each episode you are still roaming around different parts of the town, but there are boundaries set up as to not let you stray too far off the beaten path.  The only thing I could see as a let down for some fans is the decision to do away with the "free roaming" portions of the game.  In my humble opinion I think it actually helped the game and gave it some very nice pacing, which is what really keeps this game going as each episode ends on a huge cliffhanger and just begs you to come back and play the next one.  Another advantage to the episodic content is how each are presented so much like a show that you don't even have to be playing the game to enjoy it.  My wife actually sat with me and watched as I played through the whole thing.  She said it was like watching a TV show. A rather nice touch Remedy also  made when crafting this game was that, after each episode ends, the game shifts to a credits scene while some very appropriate licensed music plays including songs like "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison and "Haunted" by Poe, among others.
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 The story is quite difficult to explain but involves the disappearance of  Alan's wife from the cabin they rented to help get him out of his writer's block.  Alan then begins to question his sanity, and as the viewer/player you soon begin questioning his sanity too as you go through each episode.  At some points in the game I wondered if Alan was just dreaming, at other points I wondered if what I was watching was some twisted TV show that Alan himself wasn't aware he was in, another thought I had was that I was watching a book that someone was writing if that makes sense. Finally I started to think he was just plain old insane in the membrane.  I won't spoil the ending, or if any of these scenarios are what is actually going on but I will say that most but not all things are wrapped up, though not in a very explanatory way.  Hopefully the next two episodes which are downloadable content should help to explain some of the mysteries left open.

The graphics and sound were both exactly what you would expect from a 360 game, which by the way is the only system this game is available on.  The only complaint I had about the graphics, which you will also read about on other game review sites is that there was a lot of screen tearing.  Screen tearing is when the screen gets all fuzzy and distorted at points during the game.  The gameplay was again a very strong part of the game and though it is quite repetitive I never found myself getting bored.  Alan doesn't have access to machine guns or laser pistols as seen in other games, but what little he does have comes in handy.  You can use a basic pistol, hunting rifles, shotugns, even flareguns to take out your enemies, AKA "The Taken."  Another tool you have at your disposal are flashlights of different varieties.  These are used to weaken the Taken until the point at which they can be shot.  Ammo isn't really a problem when playing the "Normal" mode of the game and I have yet to experience "Nightmare" mode which is unlocked after beating the game on normal so I can't really tell you how much harder it gets.  One more cool note about the game is that while you are adventuring through the Pacific Northwest which is where this game takes place you will find pieces of a manuscript which helps to explain exactly just what is going on.  A tip for anyone reading this is as you find the manuscripts don't actually read them until you beat the game because they can spoil upcoming events before they actually happen.  You will also find coffee thermoses hidden throughout each episode as well which is an obvious reference to Twin Peaks, and fans of the show will understand.  I highly recommend a rental of Alan Wake at the very least, but if you enjoy Thriller/Horror action style games on the XBox 360 then you just might want to go out and purchase this one.
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4 Jolly Jack-O-Lanterns
Jolly Jack-O-Lantern Rating Explanation 
Oh and by the way I added some Facebook badges over there on the right so go ahead and click them and become friends with me and "like" the official HalloweenOverkill Facebook page which you can link to from another Facebook badge a little bit more towards the top of the blog.  I will be doing exclusive posts and giveaways over there, but don't worry this is still your HalloweenOverkill home and should be the first place you check for some wonderful Halloween deliciousness!  Also check back tomorrow for my 4th of July giveaway which actually has nothing to do with the noble holiday, and I will also show you ghouls something I discovered in my closet as I was packing today (what was it?  you'll have to come back tomorrow to see, but it's pretty neat) as we get ready for the big move to Monroeville, YES you read that right Monroeville, the home of the Monroeville Mall from the Romero classic Dawn of the Dead.

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