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Alan Wake

Six years in the making...

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And it's not all shooting either: Occasionally in his spooky trip through the woods Alan encounters the odd puzzle, which has him turning on power generators, swinging power bar meters and moving log cranes to create new paths.

Disaster Dave
Although satisfying throughout, Remedy's combat mechanics are not Alan Wake's strongest feature. By the half-way point of the game, Wake's combat formula has dealt all of its trump cards - weapons, enemies, puzzles - and although it doesn't really hurt the game, you're left wanting a bit more in the way of variety.

From that point on the only reward for persevering is to experience the spectacular set pieces and Stephen King-esque plot twists that lurk around the corner. Luckily, this is a reward worth playing for and Alan Wake's rollercoaster pacing, genuinely intriguing plot and thrilling cinematic moments are its true game-changers.

The lengthy main story (which is split into several 'episodes' complete with 'previously on Alan Wake...' segments) is unashamedly linear, but this allows for some truly epic, crowd-pulling set pieces. When the action's at its peak, you'll madly sprint Alan through supernatural war zones as cars, trees and pieces of buildings violently fall from the sky and smash the ground around him.

One impressive scene later in the game has Alan madly sprinting to cross a bridge as possessed pieces of steel and metal brutally snap from their structure, and hurl themselves straight towards Alan's tiny frame.

At points, thanks to gorgeous visuals, a standout score and deafening, psychedelic sound effects, Alan Wake really does feel like an interactive Hollywood disaster movie. During the review process our television screen attracted a crowd of slack-jawed games journos more than once.

A special nod should also go to the beautiful world that developer Remedy's created, which still shows its open-world roots and is vast and detailed in unprecedented measure.

Alan Wake's plot is genuinely rich and rewarding for anyone who feels compelled to pay it attention. The various pages of manuscript laid out along Wake's path offer teasing clues of events about to happen, while radios and even live-action mock television go even further in fleshing out the universe.

But though Remedy's six-year game is an undeniable narrative gem, it still feels like it could've added extra depth and variety in the more traditional areas.

One thing we would've liked to have seen more of is the fantastically satisfying sense of character progression found in Wake's closest gameplay cousin, Resident Evil 4. At the end of every Alan Wake 'episode' (think Resi's acts) you lose all of your acquired weapons and have to start again from scratch. A wider and more customisable arsenal could've done wonders here.

But the lack of depth in combat doesn't ultimately damper Wake's core attractions; thrills, narrative and heart-pounding set pieces.

While its not the generation-defining game the epic development schedule might've suggested, Alan Wake is still a fantastic, 10-hour-plus play-it-on-the-couch linear action game - with brains required or not, depending on your preference.

Despite its flaws we had a fantastic time playing through Remedy's gripping, nerve-wracking story. And with a host of planned post-release DLC set to follow up the game's cliff hanger ending, that six-year construction still might warrant a place on the Xbox 360 hall of fame.

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The verdict

A fantastic and thrilling linear action game - with optional clever plot.

  • Incredible action sequences
  • Genuinely masterful narrative
  • Beautiful, believable world
  • Combat is satisfying - if simple
  • Lacks variety later on
  • Would've liked more depth in combat
Xbox 360
Remedy Entertainment