Review by JMenthol

"Dissenting Opinion: A Few Faults Mentioned"

I think you'll find no shortage of people online singing the praises of recent game release Alan Wake. While you can read the favorable comments all over the place, I found few reviews that discussed the flaws of the game; I'd like to play devil's advocate here and touch on a few of the problems I had with my Alan Wake experience.

Let me preface this by saying that I enjoyed the game over-all; I found it unique and interesting, and I do recommend that people play the game. However, I also do not think it was perfect, and here is why:

In this game, there are thermoses of coffee lying around. They are everywhere, for no apparent reason. It's pretty difficult to NOT notice them, in fact, because they flash and shimmer to draw your attention. They serve no purpose in the game world other than to be a collectible item. Often you will find yourself running for your life in terror, stumbling through the dark, only to notice off to the side a flashing thermos, which triggers a "Oh, I should get that, a few more and I get an achievement" moment, breaking the immersion and reminding you that you are sitting in your living room. In a game that places so much emphasis on story and setting a special tone, this is pretty unforgivable.

Enemy types are a little limited and it gets somewhat stale fighting the same fights after 10 hours or so. Once you've faced down Killer Machine, or Pack of Crows, or Cheap Weapon-Throwing Guy for the 30th time, the fear and excitement fades and it gets a bit old. The pace gets broken up briefly by item collecting moments and cut-scenes, with some occasional platforming that is pretty clunky and frustrating. That said, there isn't much beyond the core gameplay of fighting and/or fleeing from enemies. The driving force behind this game is the mystery of the story, and it pushes you past these shortcomings in anticipation of what will happen next; however, once that story is all revealed, there's really not much to draw you back for a replay. As the game only lasts about 12 hours or so, this is unfortunate.

I really enjoyed the plot of this game. However, afterward, I found myself thinking, "It's as if they took a really amazing 2-hour movie, then turned it into a good TV series, and then turned THAT into a pretty decent game." I find myself wishing I could have experienced this story in a non-video game format. If they could take the important elements of this game and boil them down into a TV mini-series or feature film, I would be there in a heartbeat. However, as a game, I sometimes felt like I was having to slog through the boring gameplay parts to get to the "good stuff" of what happens next in the story. It's a marriage of awesome story with just average gameplay, and I think it mars the experience.

Again, I do recommend that people play this game. I have only focused on a few negative aspects in this review, but I feel like the flaws needed to be represented.

Story - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Replay Value - 4/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/24/10

Game Release: Alan Wake (US, 05/18/10)

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