Now for the fun part: we were able to get a hands-on taste of Alan Wake's American Nightmare, in both its Story and Arcade modes. The first aspect you notice is that, graphically, the game engine has come a long way since the original game, with a much higher-res, more polished look and, of course, a different colour palette, ditching the predominant greens in favour of reds and browns, to match the new setting.
The game's reverence towards classic Americana clearly hasn't been diluted: we visited a Motel and a garage, and there was a real Route 66 feel to the surroundings. So the ability to explore - rather than being forced by the game to take a specified path, was appreciated.
We tried the nail-gun, which wasn't enormously powerful, but neither was it prone to running out of ammo (unlike, say, the flare-gun, which made a welcome return). The lighted safe-havens were back, but with a difference: their light ran out after you had used them to recharge your health, so the best tactic was to head for them after taking a few hits. Alan Wake himself still moved in a moderately clunky manner - the left-bumper Dodge is still a key technique - but he was much more smoothly animated than previously.
Arcade mode should prove pretty popular with fans of the original and newcomers alike. It did indeed feel like Gears of war's Horde mode but, naturally, with a very different atmosphere - the map we played in, for example, featured a graveyard. The Splitter enemies acted exactly as described by Hakkinen, inducing an extra frisson of panic, and a 10-minute countdown takes place throughout each session.
If you played the original, American Nightmare is an absolute must-download (particularly at just 1,200 Microsoft Points), and it felt like the ideal introduction for those who never previously experienced the franchise.
The original Alan Wake will also shortly come to the PC - via Steam and Origin, or in boxed form, published by Nordic Game. So will Remedy bring American Nightmare to the PC? Hakkinen is a bit non-committal right now: "I have nothing to announce on American Nightmare going to PC. But I will say that PC gaming is part of the heritage of Remedy. We always wanted to bring Alan Wake out on PC, but the stars weren't aligned at the time."
And what about Alan Wake 2 - is that in the offing? "In terms of this standalone stuff, we haven't planned on doing anything, but let the gamers vote with their wallets. If people like American Nightmare and want more of it, that's something we'd definitely look into. What I can answer is that we're not done with Alan Wake. It's our IP, it's very close to our hearts, we've worked on it for a long time and you haven't seen the last of it."