Currently Playing: Alan Wake (X360)

At last I got a chance to play Alan Wake, the suspense action thriller from the creators of Max Payne games. It’s been a while since we last saw a game from them, and I’ve been highly anticipating their return. Will this be just another Max Payne or is it a new change of style from the creators?

Alan Wake, from what I understood was designed originally as a Windows game, just as Max Payne. Console versions were only secondary, if you guys remember Max Payne, the console versions were terrible whatever version you think of, and obviously the PC version was highly superior in almost everything from controls to graphics. I remember a few years back that it was even showcasing DirectX10 graphics, so for a while, it didn’t seem to ever come to an Xbox or a PS3. Then suddenly, Microsoft gets the rights to publish the game, which seemed to halt all production of the Windows PC version and moved directly to Xbox360 only. I’m pretty sure that there was a graphic hit performance that kinda went down since an Xbox360 can’t do DirectX 10 graphics. Now the game is out, how did it fare in the console generation?

First off, the graphic is amazingly done. The first level it gives off the feeling of darkness and how large the environments were, it also shows of the amount of detail with all the trees and plants, the lights were a step above most games, it feels realistic and kinda gives you a emotional warmth and protection. The darkness on the other hand gives of the feeling of dread, fear and unknown. You’ll notice that in the dark, the graphics bend when storms are coming in. The animation is smooth and it does feel flawless. What strikes me is that the morning sequences feels like a different game because everything is bright and you do feel safe, but still the amount of detail while you are in town can be quite breathtaking. There are a few problems that I had when playing the game, the entire game is so engaging but at some point when there are close ups of the characters, they don’t feel as alive as I want them to be. It just tells you that you are still in a game. Sometimes I wish that it had more detail as Heavy Rain because that game did bring character emotions to a level never seen before in a game.

Controls are easy enough if you are familiar with third person shooter games. The learning curve is not too drastic if you are familiar those games. Although attacking can take an adjustment. Most shooter games use the left trigger as some focus, while this game doesn’t use a focus, it does make the flashlight stronger. The flashlight is what keeps you going and it’s the main weakness of your enemies in the game. Although most enemies don’t die using the light, it is only their weakness, you still have to use a gun to put them down.

The thrill and suspense of the game works because of the amazingly done graphics and the very interesting use of the traditional control scheme. The look is dark, which alone emotionally works on the gamer, and the light always looks like a safe haven. even the music changes when you reach a good spot light. A strong light here is what gives you life and enemies disappear. But when you step out of it, it creeps the hell out of you, enemies can come from anywhere, you don’t even see their faces, although they do look like normal people they do feel possessed. The flashlight in general has an infinite amount of energy, but if you want a little boost, you do need batteries which you can get along the way. Although some enemies only are affected by some focused light, so you may need to save them and use them only when needed. Your gun on the other hand, are all very simple weapons, no automatic stuff, or machine guns or anything that can give you a feeling of safety. You choose from rifles, shot guns and revolvers, all of which shoots pretty slow but does have different levels of strengths and reload time. Even with a gun at hand, you would feel worried because you can feel that you may not be able to reload on time or even have enough bullets.

The music changes, depending on the event. This may not be as amazingly done as Red Dead Redemption, but it does work on your favor in some ways. You always know when enemies are coming in and when you are safe. The tone of the music does feel big and it does feel like you are watching a very good horror show.

Gameplay is kept fresh which also surprised me. The game shows that every time you play, it’s not always the same. The action in general can get the same, but it is more than just going from point A to point B. Every single thing that’s done in the game by the character seems to make sense, because he does talk a lot about the things that are happening to him and himself. You understand the person, it’s interesting to understand what’s he is thinking about, and you also do get to learn about his past, and you do play parts of it, dreams and memories. Driving sequences is another thing that surprised me, and the controls work flawlessly too.

The story is done right, and you do see that the game is written with the story in mind and the game doesn’t drag it down. Another interesting part of the game is that you pick up pieces of a book your character supposedly wrote. What makes this interesting is that you keep getting clues on what you can expect or something that has already happened. So it prepares you to what is to come. What I also like is that you also pick up stories from other characters and there you understand what other characters have went through. Overall, I really like the story is presented, it didn’t fail to impress me one bit. Although it is a little disappointing that I can’t find all the pages of the story, it seems that I have to play it all over again. Another thing I liked is that game chapters are separated as “Episodes”. Once you finish an episode, you are treated by music which signifies the end of that story. And once another one starts, it recaps the important parts of the story like you’re watching a TV show.

The game is difficult but because there is an automatic save point a lot in-between, it does feel forgiving. It gives you a difficult challenge, but then again, if you fail, you don’t need to go too far back to restart all over again. I like the challenge and the comfort it gives on every section of the game. Because of this, it keeps you playing until the end of each episode and y0u do feel a great relief once it’s over.

You will notice that Energizer and Verizon is highly advertised in the game. Although I think it’s one of the best incorporation of in-game advertising I’ve seen. It didn’t bother me too much, and it did only have 1 video ad for Verizon in the game itself, and you do have to turn on an in game tv for that to happen too. Other than that, I think it’s not much of a problem.

Overall, I am very impressed with the game. From story, music, game play and everything else in-between. The game really ends and when the game revolves on a story, sometimes it’s hard to recommend to buy a game, but with a game this good personally, I do recommend to get it, even though there is no multiplayer. The story alone and the experience is like no other game. Well, there is another reason to buy it, which is downloadable content, because the game itself feels a little unfinished, but then again, it feels like a good ending anyway.

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