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Alan Wake Review

ON OTHER PLATFORMS: Xbox360, PC
GAME INFO
publisher: Microsoft
developer: Remedy Entertainment
genre: Action

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
n/a
ESRB rating: T
homepage:
www.alanwake.com/

release date: Feb 16, 12
» All About Alan Wake on ActionTrip


It's the year 2012 and PC gamers will now get a chance to play Alan Wake. Remember, Alan Wake was a five-year-long development process, during which Remedy Entertainment repeatedly showcased the game on the PC platform. At some point, Microsoft stepped in and the title was turned into an Xbox 360-exclusive. When the 360 edition of Alan Wake hit shelves in 2010, this made a bit of a dent in the game's fan base. So, the game was restricted to one platform and several delays did not help either. Not a good start, one would assume. There is an upside though. At least PC gamers now have a chance to get both DLC packs from the 360 version -- 'The Signal' and 'The Writer' -- adding a few extra hours to the experience. Still, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

This psychological thriller tells the tale of a writer named Alan Wake who travels to the remote town of Bright Falls, in the hope of finding some measure of peace and relaxation, away from his stressful city existence. Having arrived to Bright Falls, his wife Alice vanishes and Alan starts to search for her frantically. As Alan struggles to solve his wife's mysterious disappearance, he'll constantly have to battle a powerful dark presence, as well as his own fears. The dark remains a powerful theme throughout the entire narrative. Alice has a fear of darkness and every foe in the game is manifested through some form of darkness. With each passing moment, Alan finds it more and more difficult to discern what's real and what isn't. Pretty soon he discovers he represents the central character of a story which he can't even remember writing. Then again, writing is his greatest skill and he intends to use it in order end this nightmare and save Alice.

This game focuses on two key elements: action-packed combat and story presentation. Remedy wanted to deliver an exciting horror themed story, with emphasis on pure shooter-style action. For the most part, you could say they succeeded. Playing Alan Wake for the first time is a pretty solid ride. You get an intense action game, with some elements of horror and suspense thrown in. Still, they didn't quite grasp the point of a great horror storu, in which the idea is to actually scare people with subtle details. In an attempt to stick to its own form, the game forces components like the main character's narration and looking for missing pages of Alan's script. Both of these are cool additions, except they do tend to spoil the fun and ruin the horror-flavored suspense. Instead of surprising you, the game just hurls plot spoilers and warnings before the scary part even begins - you know, when shadowy figures creep up behind you, the camera quickly pans around and zooms in on the danger, and that just kills the horror experience right there. Also, be warned that this is not a survival horror game reminiscent of titles like Konami's Silent Hill. While there are sporadic moments where you have to escape swarms of enemies with nothing in your hands but a small torchlight, the game doesn't hurl you into any mechanics that involve planning, strategy or surviving against difficult odds. The surroundings are well-stocked with weapons (shotguns, hunting rifles, hand guns, flares, flashbangs and so on), and your pockets will always be stuffed with tons of ammo. Again, as far as the gameplay goes, it's mostly about the action.

Happily, the narrative slows down from time to time, switching from tense night-time chases and narrow escapes to leisurely day-time exploration where Alan usually gets to travel around the environment and the players can have a breather. These pauses are important and they help create the appropriate build up for the next inevitable confrontation with the dark presence.

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ACTIONTRIP SCORE
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HIGHS
A great adventure with a compelling dark ambiance, packed with intense action, and yes, the PC version of Alan Wake provides the expected graphical improvements;

LOWS
Story's not as engaging as we hoped, the action gets a bit dreary and repetitive after a while, it's still not the kind of top-notch entertainment we've been promised all those years ago.

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