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Alan Wake
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Poo Bear
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Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:06 am    Post subject: Alan Wake Reply with quote

Wow - what happened to this game? It didn't sell well at all, bu then it did come out alongside Red Dead Redemption (I think) and so it got over looked. I hope they get to make another because so far (~3 hours) its very good. It reminds me of 'Alone in the Dark' - imagine being inside one of those 'made for tv' Stephen King horror movies, most of the time you're running around in the woods waving a torch around being chased by shadows. Great fun.

There are some great cinematic moments, beautiful vistas showing the town nestled in a valley around a lake. The lighting is absolutely spot on, the mist, howling winds, shadows, torch light - all done perfectly. Its a story heavy game which is fine by me, the main character is an author and begins to have some kind of mental breakdown, the terrible things he's writing starting to come true (or is he mad?), a brooding evil manipulating him, his wife missing, the police suspect he is the murderer, who can he trust ...

Good stuff. I remember years ago leading my friends deep into the local woods, off the usual paths, to the point where we couldn't see any landmarks. When it got dark it was incredibly spooky and pitch black, with some help from me everyone got very scared and there was much running around and shouting until we found our way out. That experience is simulated very well in this game Smile The wind howls, the trees flail around, you brush past the under growth, your torchlight catching phantom shadows before something forms within the inky blackness and strikes out to kill, when just in time you catch it in the light and burn it away.

Now and again you come across a tv, turning it on reveals a little bit of exposition to push the story on. The tvs are small and the picture grainy and black and white. As a result they've been able to use actual video of actors and blend it in as if it was game footage. The only problem is this really draws attention to the in-game cut scenes which have none of the believability. The lip syncing is pretty bad.

Oh, and there's the obligatory truck driving sequence which demonstrates absolutely awful car handling. It isn't a problem thankfully, but it did make me smile. How many games NOT about driving feel compelled to put a driving sequence in? And they're all awful Smile

Minor niggles aside, its a great game and I'm loving it so far.

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Poo Bear
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Pod Team

Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow - that was over quick! I know its not cool to judge a game by how long it lasts, but Alan Wake was over in 4 sittings! For some reason I'd assumed it was going to be this epic adventure, but it was done in ~6hours I think. It reminded my of Split Second, what they'd done looked beautiful, really the nicest imagining of a country town I've ever seen, but it just took so much effort to make they didn't have the resources to build a big game around it.

In a way I'm glad they ended it so early, there aren't really any puzzles in here or any kind of developmental game mechanics to sink into. You run around at night in the woods being scared, fighting off shadow men with your torch, shotgun and flares. The rest of the time you're watching cut scenes, reading excerpts from the book and driving your pickup. The pickup driving was the low point, it wasn't bad, but the rest of the game was so well done, it stuck out as filler. The book and mini-episodes of real tv were a cool idea, but I don't think they really worked. They just weren't very interesting. Each book excerpt came in a single page of a couple of paragraphs, so it didn't really go anywhere or really link to the game. It wasn't well written enough to be interesting in its own right (perhaps because it was served in such small bites) and you didn't actually need to read it to make progress in the game. Not unforgivable at all, but you were meant to be an author living out a horror novel, so I was hoping for a bit more.

I didn't rush through this game either, like Limbo it was just quite short and left me wanting more. Being left wanting more is fine as long as you're also fairly satisfied, I suppose its like a great meal, you don't want to walk away hungry, but you seriously don't want to walk away so stuffed you're sick. As far as running around the woods with my torch, jumping at shadows goes, I think they'd squeezed just about as much fun as they could out of that when it ended.

The town and countryside were so gorgeous I really wanted to go and explore, but sadly you are stuck on rails. It would have been great to carry out the investigation on my own terms, wandering around the woods, jumping into cars, peering into abandoned mines, etc.

So, considering the bargain bin price, I'd definitely recommend it, just be ready for a thrilling, but short ride.
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