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review: Alan Wake

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Nothing needs doing at midnight more than writing a review for a game where one of your side quests is to find 100 thermoses of coffee. And, that said, I found more than sixty of them. Played the game marathon style today to get through the second half. This departure from how I normally write reviews (being I play them until I get pissed, and then tell you all how it pisses me off) is really because this game didn't do that. Yeah, I got the feeling right away that it was based on the same engine as the horrid Alone in the Dark, which never was fixed, mind you. But this game delivers in serious fashion where AITD failed in so many ways.

First and foremost, it's stunning. I mean in that bleak survival horror kind of way that games like Resident Evil were stunning when remakes surfaced for the Gamecube. But not just in that it's dark and foreboding, either. No, the game is also beautiful when the sun comes out. The people who did the art really got what it was like to be from my part of the world on a nice day.

The gameplay is classic survival horror with slight modifications thrown in to keep things interesting. Throughout the game you'll find pages which will more often than not tell you what is coming, but not when. Might be around the corner, might be three 'chapters' from now. The differences don't stop there either. In a traditional survival game you just blast the crap out of the hordes of walking death and you know there's more ammo coming, well, OK, you can do that here too, but light is more valuable to you. This is because you must first wear the enemies down and then shoot them full of holes.
So, I know it's coming: Hey, Led, what doesn't work about this game?

Well, here's the deal. Sometimes, and only sometimes, the controls will get in your way, or you'll be trying to pick something up, and you won't get the reticle and option to do it. Why? I don't know for sure, but it only gets to be an issue if you're picking things up with enemies coming at you. Namely, this is a problem in the farm level.

For a game about a writer, the pages you find are terribly written, and the story is really more cinematic than inspired by Stephen King, but all-in-all the game is not badly written or acted. It's a real shame single player only games get glossed over by the attention deficit masses. This one, at least, is worth checking out.