Sunday, 8 April 2012

REVIEW: Alan Wake - American Nightmare

Alan’s back … but can he a-Wake from this American Nightmare?

Readers of this blog will understand I have a lot of time for Alan Wake, a flawed yet engrossing game with an existential crisis of a storyline that will make your brain bleed in its over the top complexity. American Nightmare tries it’s best to sum up what has happened, so that it may be possible for gamers who haven’t played previous Wake titles to drop in. However, it just becomes a stark reminder of how convoluted the whole story was anyway. The matter of fact is that I like waving my torch around and shooting things in the dark. Well, there’s a whole lot of that in this stand-alone title.

Microsoft Studios have tried to up the ante a bit by making this title more action based and less ‘survival’ than its predecessors. Wake has a whole host of weaponry and ammo and batteries are plentiful, making you a lot less aware of saving supplies and concentrating more on the killing. Where it would have been an option to flee at some point in Alan Wake, this American Nightmare chapter makes it obvious they want you to go in guns blazing – and I’m happy to oblige.

Alongside this there are new monsters, characters and a bit more about Mr. Scratch meaning the story has clearly progressed since Wake disappeared. What seems to have happened is he is caught in a time loop which is a good and a bad thing. It's good because I like Groundhog Day, but it does mean you sometimes watch cut sequences three to four times, that you get used to the locations and find yourself doing the same thing repeatedly. The storywriters try to manage it so it speeds up each time, but essentially when you find yourself repeating what you’ve already done twice, on purpose, it becomes annoying. Another factor is I didn’t get close to dying once, I whizzed through the entire game in about 4 hours (which is quite healthy for a downloadable game), but overall I enjoyed this a lot.

The action has picked up a bit, and whether this will translate into Alan Wake 2 remains to be seen, but it’s a nice stepping stone to get there and even though the story is as ridiculous as ever, it’s still an enjoyable experience. The repetition really did let it down, whether it mattered to the story or not, perhaps some liked this? But for me, it was slightly lazy.

Rating: 6/10

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