Entries in alan wake (3)


Alan Wake's American Nightmare review - A misguided misfire

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is an odd concoction built upon the weaknesses of its predecessor. A thin facade of Alan Wake has been spread over a foundation built with other goals in mind. The disconnect is evident. For fans of the universe, this morsel of campy absurdity will scratch the itch for more but stop short of satisfaction. The unfamiliar need not apply, as all they will encounter is an impenetrable fiction attatched to a game that struggles to justify even its bite-sized price. 

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Alan Wake - The Signal DLC Review

When I heard that Alan Wake was planning to extend its story via downloadable episodes I was skeptical. I’m normally quite receptive to the idea of post-release content, paid or otherwise, but I have found that such content is often lackluster when appended to a story-heavy game.

Mass Effect 2, for instance, is a game I truly adored, but I haven’t bought a single one of its downloadable missions yet because they seem to miss the point somewhat. The grand story and character development are Mass Effect’s strong suit, but the post-release content has been weapon packs, self-contained missions with no lasting impact on the story, and halfhearted character additions to an already too-full roster. 

Fallout 3 had mixed success. Its post-release plans were terrific, trickling content out every so often to keep players coming back to their delightful post-apocalyptic world, but the actual content was hit or miss. Broken Steel and Point Lookout were tremendous additions; The Pitt was above average and fun, but not perfect; and Operation Anchorage was entirely forgettable. I haven’t even played Mothership Zeta because it looks too much like Operation Anchorage in space. 

It’s tough to take a story-driven experience, one that presumably shipped with a satisfying story arc meant to stand on its own, and add to that in any meaningful way with downloadable content. It’s not impossible, but even the best implementations, such as Point Lookout, tend to feel more like tacked-on side stories than legitimate additions to the game universe. This is often fine from a value standpoint. After all, there’s nothing wrong with paying a few bucks to get a little more mileage out of a beloved game. I’ve done it far too many times. It’s just disappointing that no one has figured out a smoother way to handle post-release content and story integration.

That said, there has never been a game in a more perfect position to do things right than Alan Wake. Its haunting story comes to a satisfying conclusion in the game proper but in a way that only a psychological thriller could. Like the best horror stories, it ties up the important arcs of its current story while leaving plenty of mystery open for future exploration. Take into account that the game is already split into convenient “episodes” and you have a tailor-made recipe for post-release content with a meaningful impact. 

It’s almost like they planned it that way or something.

So does it deliver on its promise? Well, there’s good news and bad news.

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Alan Wake Review: A Beautiful Nightmare

I once read an article that said game reviewers should make more of an effort to recognize the innovation of imperfect titles. That, for games that strive to do something new and interesting but fall short of perfection, we should try to highlight what they’ve done right rather than focus on what they did wrong.

There’s something to be said for that philosophy, and Alan Wake is a perfect demonstration of why that is.

Alan Wake is a writer with a rather severe case of writer’s block. He comes to the seemingly sleepy little town of Bright Falls with his wife, Alice, to relax and take his mind off of his worries. Obviously things don’t go quite as planned and soon some evil force has possessed the town and most of the people in it and made off with his wife to boot. Wake must find out what’s going on, battle the dark forces at work, and try to save Alice.

This spooky tale is full of enough atmosphere and intriguing plot twists to keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll. It accomplishes this using a compelling blend of familiar elements that come together to form a game unlike any other. The front of the box calls it “a psychological action thriller”, which seems about as apt a description as any. It’s not quite survival-horror in that it’s not usually outright scary, but the heavy focus on atmosphere makes it deserving of a label other than “action”. 

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