Alan Wake is a game that takes inspiration from many forms of media; books, films and such, yet it's so unique and feels anything but derivative. It is by no means a perfect game but it's one game that I'd recommend every Xbox 360 owner to buy.
The story seems to be heavily inspired by Stephen King books such as The Shining and Misery and you'll notice many similar elements throughout the game. But unlike most Stephen King books, the game does not offer closure of any kind. In fact, you could even compare it to films like Donnie Darko, which leave you thinking....
I can say straight up, if you tend not to take interest in a game's storyline, this game really isn't for you, as it is focused solely on the narrative. As for everyone else, this game will draw you in.... draw you in so much that you'll be up all night wondering what is going to happen next. So much you'll even fight yourself because one part of you wants to wait a bit, take your time with the game to savour it but the other you wants to jump straight back into it and find out what happens next.
Simply put, the game is gripping! From start to finish, you'll be hooked into this game. I have no understanding of the ending whatsoever but this means that it's open to interpretation, and so really, the story will last longer than most games because you'll be constantly trying to construct possibilities even when you are not playing.
STORY SCORE: It depends on who you are. For some they'll say it does not offer any closure and the game was a waste of money, but I'm sure that many would say the opposite and give it 10/10.
Well I fit in more with the optimistic people and I give it 9/10 overall.GAMEPLAY:
The game often gets criticism for it's rather repetitive nature as you draw near the end, and yes it is true, it does begin to feel a little tedious at times. But the game really does excel in it's gameplay and here is why:
Games like Dragon Age or Mass Effect take advantage of decision making, allowing you to make choices that affect something somewhere down the line, except most of the time you don't know that these choices will trigger anything. Alan Wake gives you a choice throughout the entire game and this is... finding out what happens next.
You'll see manuscript pages strewn across Bright Falls (the area you are in) and these are from an unwritten book.... a book you happen to be in. And while the order you find them isn't always in chronological order, they all have on them exact details of what is about to happen to you. Now, if you choose not to read them when you pick them up, that's fine. You can keep going into the unknown, feeling scared because you don't know what is going to happen. To remedy this (no pun intended) you could decide to take a look. Two out of three times, this makes matters worse. Rather than getting relief it may tell you that a "taken" person will confront you with a chainsaw. Yes, this bit had me worried because I had as of yet, not encountered an enemy with a chainsaw.
This is such a refreshing way have games narrated and it just keeps you feeling on edge always because you never know what's going to happen next...or rather.. you do.....
The core gameplay mechanics themselves though, are great. The gameplay has 3 major styles. One of these is action/combat based: you can jump, sprint and shoot enemies.
The other is conversational/interactional: you can converse with people, interact with objects and so on.
The next one is driving: yes, you can drive cars!
Now, the game was originally meant to be free roam. But people believed they scrapped that because otherwise the game would have to have bad graphics, but this is not true. The game has semi-open world sections, it's just that it needed to be more linear to keep the game feeling fresh as you progress in the story. You don't want to go through an area, see all there is to see and then later have to do part of a mission there. It's better this way, and you can still see it's open-world roots, as some of the areas you are in are truly massive and you'll most certainly get lost at points.
There is so much to talk about in gameplay... but I'll leave the rest for you to find out. Let me just tell you that it will appeal to the adventure fans, the horror fans and also the action/shooting fans. The only problem in this area is, yes, it does eventually feel like the gameplay is turning into a grind and this is bad for a horror/psychological thriller game because it needs to retain it's scariness. But the gameplay is tight and very impressive overall.
GAMEPLAY SCORE: 8.5/10 - Room for improvementGRAPHICS:
It is a very nice looking game. In honesty I would give it 8.5/10 if it were more linear, a bit like Uncharted 2, but considering how vast the game is, it deserves a higher rating. Because in daylight, the game looks lovely; the interiors look great, the character models superb, the detail in everything you see just looks nice. The lighting effects and some detail in the environments looks very impressive, in fact the use of lighting is the best I've ever seen. Also, the animation is top-notch with the only exception being the ocassional bad lip synchronisation. I was also blown away by the vegetation/flora detail. Every leaf looks good, regardless of what tree it's from. And the way grass/plants/branches sway as you brush past them is so impressive! There's also a fantastic draw distance, the mountains look stunning and the water effects look great too!
In fact, I could go on about how good the game looks. There are just some draw backs, for example some wood-textures look bland and you'll notice a few visual hiccups (mainly in the cutscenes surprisingly... just a few draw distance glitches, but extremely minor).
So yeah, I'm going to give it's graphics a straight up 9/10
It's certainly not the best game ever but it's far from the worst. It's one of my favourite games of the generation and it's one I'll definately be coming back to. I also bought the limited edition so I got the dvd footage, the soundtrack, a book containing further information regarding to the characters, storyline and the whole verisimilitude of Alan Wake. I'd highly recommend the game to everyone, and the limited edition even more if you have the money.