Review by TrueREFreak

"People who give this game high reviews know what a good game is."

Alan Wake, is without a doubt, one of the most engrossing video games to grace the 360. While I will admit I still do not quite understand the storyline altogether, it is such a terrific video game that I will have no problem playing it again in order to understand it more fully.

This much is clear however: Alan Wake is a best-selling writer, with some personal problems of his own. His wife, Alice Wake suggests that they take a vacation to Bright Falls and stay at a cabin on Cauldron Lake. I will not give out any more details for fear of spoiling anything but all I will say is his wife eventually ends up missing, and Alan Wake takes it upon himself to wander throughout all of Bright Falls in order to search for her and find the answers as to why she went missing.

If you have read any review stating that this game is linear, it is, but to a point. You have the option to go around the beaten path and search for pages of your manuscript which I highly recommend doing, because it helps to better understand the story. Unfortunately, some of the pages are not available unless it is on the highest difficulty. Also you can search for coffee thermoses scattered throughout the town and its forests, but this is more for Achievement purposes. And it does have driving sections that really bring out the scenic feel of the game. Thus, it works just fine not being like Grand Theft Auto because they are two entirely different games.

This game will definitely remind you of Silent Hill, except that it is not puzzle oriented at all, with the exception of a few instances being "push this switch to get to here." Also there is the flashlight, of which is your best friend, way more so than in the Silent Hill games. The flashlight you possess is almost like a secondary weapon. The foes you will encounter throughout the game are known as the Taken, dark souls that can only be killed when you shine the flashlight on them, thereby enabling you to kill them with your other weapons, whether it be a shotgun, hunting rifle, or revolver. There are also flares, a flare gun, and flash bangs to keep these Taken at a distance. Apart from the humanoid hill-billy Taken, there are also Taken crows, birds that will occasionally dive down from the dark sky to try and take you apart, and Taken poltergeists, who will throw barrels, tires, and other heavy objects at you. They will even possess heavy machinery such as tractors and wheat threshers to run you down, thus making the Taken poltergeists the hardest foes you will face. Along with your weapons you also have a dodge move where, if you time it just right, it cuts to slow motion briefly just to show you how close you were to getting sliced to death. This only works for the humanoid Taken however, the crows and the poltergeists you can pretty much only try and run away from. All this being said should lead you to one conclusion, the light is your friend, especially in the more intense parts of the game where Taken are coming at you from all sides. And it also serves as a checkpoint at times.

The graphics in this game are absolutely spectacular. Minus a few pixelated moments, the game looks simply stunning. You will want to get out of the vehicle you are driving and just stand on the edge of a cliff and look at the beautiful view in front of you. Make no mistake, Alan Wake is one of the prettier games for the 360.

Sound-wise, the ambience in the game and the thrilling music to complement it are sat just right in all the right parts. I have absolutely no qualms about this at all. You will not see anything coming at you, but when the ambience starts up a little bit and the forest gets darker and foggier, be prepared to hunt down some Taken.

The interaction in this game is pretty killer, in fact when the townspeople were talking in front of me, I just let Alan Wake stand there and listened to everything they had to say. The conversations are quite engrossing and at times, humorous. You will also come across radios you can listen to and televisions that will show episodes of a show called "Night Springs," of which is a take on the well-known series "The Twilight Zone."

This game can get pretty disturbing at times, although it seemed like it was getting less disturbing as the game went on. But if you think you will be playing a horror game when you are playing Alan Wake, you will be kind of disapointed. This game is a psychological thriller, and like I said there are some disturbing moments and a few that will give you a "boo" scare, but nothing seriously psychologically chilling and horrific like Silent Hill.

All in all, this game is without a doubt one of the best games to come out this year. I recommend anyone who is a fan of video games that will pull you in instead of having you go through the motions to get Alan Wake. Detractors of a game like this have been too spoiled by games that really don't require a whole lot of thought to them. This game is the answer to the PS3's Heavy Rain, and should not be missed.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/01/10

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

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