|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Remedy Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 18, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Remedy Entertainment did go ahead and include three different levels of difficulty to challenge such gamers, and there are a lot of hidden goodies (coffee thermoses, tin can pyramids, radios, weapons stashes, TV monitors, etc.) to find, challenging Achievements to unlock, even new manuscript Easter eggs to uncover. However, these nods to the core gamer may not be enough.
For starters, only the first two levels of difficulty are unlocked at the outset, so the truly skilled will have to settle for a less demanding experience. What's more, I didn't find the increased difficulty levels to significantly augment the enjoyment I got out of the game. In fact, I would say that things just got a bit more frustrating at certain points rather than more challenging. Moreover, other than the glut of collectibles strewn about the game and the advanced Achievements, the story really only lends itself to one play-through; the extra pages of story likely won't interest an action gamer anyway.
Technically, the game is nearly perfect. The controls are very precise, the environments are astoundingly detailed and lushly rendered, the use of lighting effects is second to none, the musical score perfectly elicits a thrilling ambiance, the sound effects are round and satisfying, and the voice work is quite proficient at conveying the tension and portraying the characters. ?this is a beautiful, extremely well put together title.
The only glaring issue I found, technically speaking, is the often god-awful facial animations. All it takes is a few minutes with the game to realize just how bad it can be. Actually, the lip-syncing and expressions tend to improve as the game goes on, but in a game this gorgeous and realistic, it is a real problem for maintaining complete immersion. As a result, Alan Wake isn't quite as believable as he should be, and his best friend (and agent) Barry is one of the most fake, plastic-looking gaming characters of this generation. This is really too bad because he is actually quite likeable, with a lot of well-written comedic dialogue.
Alan Wake is an exceptional thriller that was a pleasure to play. That said, if you're a gamer that exclusively values action, you may find the combat to be too repetitive for your liking. However, if you're a gamer looking for a thoroughly engaging narrative that's well supported by some heated gunplay and the occasional light puzzle, Alan Wake is exactly what the doctor ordered.
CCC Editor / News Director