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Alan Wake
XBox 360

Reviewed on: XBox 360

Remedy Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Rated: "T" for teen

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6
TV Shows like Lost and Fringe have long been a hit with viewers for their mystery and intrigue.  Just like any good TV show, what keeps viewers coming back though is the tension that builds between each episode until everything comes to a climactic conclusion. But what happens when things never seem to get to that climactic conclusion?

That’s what you get with Alan Wake, a wonderfully crafted, suspenseful tale that never really feels like you’re reaching the rewarding conclusion. With just the right amount of creepy and a few novel tricks, Remedy’s often delayed Alan Wake hits all of the right notes, but seemingly not the one that matters most.

Now, I haven’t traveled much in my life, but let me offer you this small tidbit of advice – if you travel to a small, mountain town where the residents come off as too nice, you may want to take precautions – stuff is more than likely about to go down. For our titular hero Alan Wake, a best-selling crime author, it’s a case of writer’s block that brings him to the woods. After not writing anything for almost two years, Wake and his wife Alice take a trip to beautiful Bright Falls. Before long, Alice is missing and a story that Wake wrote is coming to life. And you thought you had a bad vacation.

"...some of the most amazing environmental graphics I’ve ever seen..."


While the nightmarish creatures and crazy townsfolk who attack you may be a nuisance, it’s the darkness that’s your real enemy here. The mechanic, you’re safe in the light, but screwed in the dark is a simple mechanic, but it works well here. This is mainly because the game features incredible lighting effects that draw you into the game’s world. I’d even go so far as to say that at sunset, the game features some of the most amazing environmental graphics I’ve ever seen, pretty impressive – especially when you take into account that the game only runs at 720p.

The game’s superb score also does a fantastic job keeping you on the edge of your seat. There wasn’t a moment in the game that I felt the music didn’t fit the action and mood on the screen perfectly. Much like Left 4 Dead before it, you’ll have to listen for musical cues as to what’s going to take place in the game.

Though you’ll have access to a fair number of guns, Wake’s most useful weapon is by far his flashlight.  By shining the light on your attackers who thrive in the darkness, you can literally watch them disintegrate. It’s a neat little effect, and you’re sure to use it multiple times, but it’s not without its downsides. The life of the flashlight is incredibly short, and you can only shine it on one attacker at a time, meaning that if you’re surrounded by enemies, you’re more than likely going to take on a lot of damage. Luckily though, your health regenerates quite quickly and there’s a strangely large amount of ammo scattered throughout the world that it’s unlikely that you’re going to die too often.

"’re likely going to notice that Alan Wake is a pretty linear title."


About two hours into the game, you’re likely going to notice that Alan Wake is a pretty linear title. Sure, there are a few instances where you can get off the beaten path, but you’re going to spend most of the game trotting through a dark forest covered in a deep fog while shining your light on things. There is depth here if you’re willing to seek it out; in the form of hidden television sets and manuscript pages you can collect.

The biggest strength of Alan Wake is the pitch perfect story. Feeling like a mix between the Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks (Am I dating myself here?) and current shows like the previously mentioned Lost and Fringe, Remedy has created a wonderfully paced and intriguing tale. There are plenty of climactic moments here, but there are also a few times when you’ll ask yourself “That’s it?” after what was meant to be a game-changing moment. Sadly, for me – one of those moments was the game’s ending, which spoilers aside -- felt a bit too rushed.

The tale of Alan Wake and the horrors of Bright Falls was one that I found surprisingly addicting. Thanks to a strong feeling of resonance, I couldn’t help but get through my day in anticipation of what was going to happen next. That’s not always a good thing though as once you finish Alan Wake, a second play through will never feel the same as the first. That being said, the first play through alone is enough to strongly recommend Alan Waketo anyone who loves a great story. 



CHEATS USED: Easter Eggs, Achievements List

There’s a ton of cool and interesting Easter Eggs hidden throughout Alan Wake, including an Xbox 360 with some familiar box art and some cool tricks to help maximize your gameplay experience, but no cheats in the traditional sense.

What I would love to see in the future, as far as cheats for Alan Wake would be an unlimited flashlight cheat, as well as one to make it more powerful. I also wouldn’t mind a cheat for unlimited health but since it regenerates fast enough, it’s not really needed as much as the others.



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