Wot I Think: Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

By Adam Smith on May 29th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

All I do, is sit down at the typewriter, and start hittin' the keys. Getting them in the right order, that's the trick. That's the trick.

It took Alan Wake ages to find his way to PC but his second adventure arrived almost immediately after its XBLA release. At this rate, the planned full-blown sequel will arrive in 2007, long before it surfaces on the Microbox 7.20. But if American Nightmare isn’t a sequel, what is it? An arcade, action-orientated spinoff? An experimental short story? A fever dream? Expect spoilers for the first game as I tell you wot I think.

Remember how Alan Wake was about a man in a haunted forest? Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a game in which playing a Kasabian CD in a certain place causes a satellite to fall out of the sky and destroy an oil well.

When I read Alec’s judgement of Alan’s vacation in Bright Falls I realised that I agreed with everything he said while also thinking that I’d enjoyed the game a lot more than he seemed to. Maybe my tolerance for repetitive action sequences is higher, or maybe it’s a game that becomes less of a chore in memory. Although I’m loathe to defend the eventual damp squib of a plot, which never seemed quite outlandish enough for my liking, despite alternate dimensions, rescripted realities and evil doppelgangers, I’ve found myself doing exactly that on numerous occasions.

But it’s supposed to be a bit daft, I find myself saying, it’s a cocktail of horror story conventions with a self-aware sheen. And of course he’s supposed to be a bit of a dick, I’ll wave my arms as I exclaim, he’s a trumped up success story who knows deep down that those manuscript pages, just like the works that made him famous, are a bit crap.

The manuscript pages are still a bit crap and Alan still bangs on about being a writer but this time around he accepts that he’s little more than a flashlight and a gun. It’s clearer now that the last thing Alan needs to be judged on is his writing. Although there’s some wibbly nonsense about rewriting events to change their outcome, like everything else Alan does, performing such metaphysical actions boils down to burning shadows from monster men with a flashlight and then shooting them with a gun. Maybe you’ll have to press a button afterwards or put a battery in a battery container. What you definitely won’t have to do is write anything.

Alan Wake isn’t a writer and Alan Wake isn’t a game about a writer. It’s a game about a man with a gun and flashlight (which is also, functionally, a gun) who tells everyone that he meets that he’s a writer. If CODBLOPS The Second has a main character who has published military memoirs to pay for his extravagant lifestyle, it won’t suddenly be a game about a writer; it’ll be a game about a man with some guns shooting other men. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a game about a man with some guns shooting other men.

That out of the way, here’s how the shooting works: exactly the same as in the first game. Enemies, corrupted by darkness, must have a flashlight turned on them, the beam intensified by a squeeze of the left trigger, and eventually a flash of silver light heralds the destruction of the dark and the right trigger can be squeezed instead of the left. BANG. Alan has more choice of weaponry for that right trigger this time around, from a nail gun to a combat shotgun, as well as his supply of flares and flashbangs.

Even though the combat works in identical fashion in terms of control, there’s a greater variety of enemies this time around and you’re more likely to be swarmed by them so things are a little more interesting. If you played the first game you’ll know that ‘a greater variety of enemies’ means more than two so don’t expect a wide-ranging menagerie of Taken. There are big ones, even bigger ones, little ones that split into two when the light hits them, scrawny ones that transform into flocks of birds as a form of teleportation and a few variations of the standard assailant. Oh, and spiders, which seem quite different and threatening at first but then they pretty much die as soon as Alan looks at them. Rubbish spiders.

All of this torching and gunning takes place in three locations on the outskirts of the fictional town of Night Springs, Arizona. It’s not just fictional because it was made up for the game, it’s a fictional place IN the game. Alan is trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone parody, Night Springs, on which he started his writing career. He wrote the episode, or is still writing it even as he stars in it, or maybe he’s editing it from a proof handed down by his evil doppelganger, Mr Scratch.

It’s all utter nonsense but there are enjoyable touches, even if enjoying them means standing around while waiting for them to be delivered. Mr Scratch, who performs the role of antagonist mostly from the other side of television screens, where he taunts, tortures and teases, is channelling Patrick Bateman in a pleasantly hammy fashion, although that does add yet another influence into the overflowing pot.

He’s living Alan’s life in the real world, except he’s not a writer either; he’s a serial killer. There’s some guff about him being the embodiment of every tabloid story about Alan made real, all of the worst rumours and personality traits now become flesh and carving its way across America. It’s more Lunar Park than American Psycho really but by the end of this particular story, I’m still unclear as to what the theme is.

It is perhaps noteworthy that in each location there is a damsel in some form of distress and they are all somewhat smitten by Alan’s dark half. They seem to represent something, aspects of Alice Wake maybe, but it’s also possible that they’re just distressed damsels, signifying nothing. Whatever the case, Alan has no time to dally with them because he is a married man. A married man surrounded by monsters in an imaginary place located on a tear in reality during the apocalypse.

The plot can be pieced together, incoherent as it sometimes is, with time loops, characters who are unsure if they are real or imagined, and some uncertain explanations of its own increasingly cumbersome mythology. As for the theme, what any of this is actually about, it seems undecided. Is Alan fighting shadows and metaphors, ‘implications’ as he says himself, or is he at war with his own worst impulses? Is he a creative genius able to harness his power for good or evil, or is he a washed up hack who has created a prison for his own mind?

He seems stuck halfway between every horror cliché in every Pan Horror anthology ever published and a different story, half mystical paean to the power of imagination, half science fiction mystery. There’s a point at which he refers to the “genre shifting” and that’s perhaps what I expected; a full on plunge from the mystery of the first game into grindhouse and gore. That might have been more interesting but the series already seems too consumed by its own confusions to perform a move quite so clinical and clean.

It bears repeating that this is a game in which playing a Kasabian CD in a certain place causes a satellite to fall from the sky and destroy an oil rig. It bears repeating because the game repeats it, getting five or six hours playtime out of its three locations by revisiting them several times, events reoccurring with mild variations due to a time loop.

The most interesting thing about American Nightmare is that it’s a much better episode of an Alan Wake game than any but the first episode of the original game. It always seemed odd to me that Remedy chose the episodic structure for a game that was released as a whole and had no variety through its six chapters, although it did allow them to use some neat music, which the whole Kasabian plot point makes me look back on much more fondly. This condensed experience actually makes for a more enjoyable excursion into Alan’s pulpy world than the drawn-out hike of the original. The biggest annoyance is the far too tight field of view, as if there’s a cameraman tripping on Alan’s heels, but the lighting and draw distance paint a pretty if blander picture of America.

It may be more of the same in some ways but just as Mr Scratch is having more fun pretending to be Alan than Alan ever did, I had more fun pretending to be Alan than I did before. During the too few and too simple sections where a scene must be made to fit the description in a manuscript page there are glimpses of something cleverer than the simplistic action game that American Nightmare ultimately is. Sadly, the eyelids are heavy and the glimpse is soon obscured by spawning enemies, checkpoints that are always marked on the map and ammo boxes placed so liberally as to prevent any possibility of tension.

The arcade mode is surprisingly entertaining, a horde mode containing small maps not seen in the story on which Alan must survive the ten minutes until dawn, dashing about to gather ammo and flares as he builds up combos by killing and dodging increasingly dangerous waves of enemies. It’s the only part of the game that offers any real challenge and it’s no more than a diversion but it’s fun nonetheless. That’s American Nightmare. A diversion, a simplistic but entertaining shootout in the desert, a change of location and a change of pace.

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is available now from various digital distributors for around $14.99/£11.99, with a 15% discount for owners of the original game at GOG.com and Steam.

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94 Comments »

  1. JackShandy says:

    “Alan Wake isn’t a game about a writer. It’s a game about a man with a gun who tells everyone that he meets that he’s a writer. If CODBLOPS The Second has a main character who has published military memoirs to pay for his extravagant lifestyle, it won’t suddenly be a game about a writer; it’ll be a game about a man with some guns shooting other men. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a game about a man with some guns shooting other men.”

    I feel the same way about Bioshock and Philosophy.

    • woodsey says:

      Not really the same thing.

      Partly because that quote pertains to the protagonists themselves, partly because Alan Wake (and presumably CODBLOPS The Second) aren’t designed as entire metaphors to begin with, Bioshock is/was. It makes its point by having you play the game. It’s about a man with a gun shooting other men with guns on purpose to make an exterior point – it’s more than just a background profile on the protagonist.

      • Bhazor says:

        Yep. It’s like saying Bioshock or Planescape were philosophical purely because the characters called themselves philosophers.

        How effective those games were is up to debate but theres no denying there was a core of philosophy and social commentary running through them. What does Alan Wake have to say about writing through gameplay? Nothing. At most it’s superflous flavour text drifting around the outside of the game.

        • CitizenDickbag says:

          Dude with a My Little Pony avatar thinks Bioshock was better-written than Alan Wake. Seems about right.

          • Grim_22 says:

            Dude with a My Little Pony avatar is right.

            Also, for some reason I read your comment in the voice of the Bastion narrator.

          • Bhazor says:

            Like I said how successful the philosophy of Bioshock is handled is up for debate. But there is no denying the central themes are tied into the game at a mechanical level unlike Alan Wake. Where that stuff just happens in cutscenes with zero player agency.

            This is also what makes Bioshock a better written game. It tells a story without dull, prolonged, cliched cutscenes and endless hollow homages to far better works in other mediums. It doesn’t remove you from the game to tell you it’s crap screenplay.

            Are you upset because I have Applebloom as an avatar? Would you prefer it if I switched to Scootaloo? I mean everyone knows Scootie Bloom is best filly.

          • JackShandy says:

            ” But there is no denying the central themes are tied into the game at a mechanical level unlike Alan Wake. Where that stuff just happens in cutscenes with zero player agency.”

            How so? Choice, possibly, but the gameplay has a lot to say about guns and not a lot to say about corrupted randian utopia’s or the fall of a great man.

          • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

            But Alan Wake was really poorly written. Bioshock was not. I claim superfluous privilege by virtue of having a username stolen from Gravity’s Rainbow ergo you must genuflect to my superior intellectual and moral fortitude.

          • Bhazor says:

            Again: Milage May Vary

            But in Bioshock there were three main themes collapse of Randian/utopian society, genetic engineering and freewill all of which were present at a mechanical level.
            Utopian collapse can be seen in how weapons and sentry bots are made from salvaged parts. A security drone for example is just a ceiling fan with a lawnmower engine, a home made gatling gun and a cigar case full of techno gubbins.This is a society that never expected it would need weapons and it’s slap dash weapons lead to you being able to upgrade your own. In terms of gameplay though it is mostly presented through the levels, battling through idylic parks, trendy winebars and up market markets. The Randian aspect is present in the ability to “buy out” security devices, the ability to buy weapons from candy vending machines. It ties into the idea of everybody/company for themselves and how there is no such thing as morality or allegiances when it comes to money/power.
            Genetic engineering (albeit of the comic book variety) is most plainly present in that your plasmids are your primary weapons. It could have been expanded on with some kind of puritan faction rewarding you with extra goodies in return for remaining “pure”. But as it stands the plasmids that splicers use all provide dramatically different opponents and kept the encounters varied and unpredictable right to the end.
            Was the idea of freewill explored using the gameplay, well you tell me man?

            None of these ideas are new of course but crucially all these ideas tied not only into the narrative and flavour text of the world but into the very mechanics of the game world.

          • chuckles73 says:

            Bhazor: Call me cliched, but I’d really prefer Pinkie Pie.

        • Klarden says:

          Well, while i think BioShock is just an aqequatly designed but boring FPS, i do agree that it at least tried to present the story and themes though mechanics, while Alan Wake is more of just a Alone in the Dark:The new Nightmare/ObsCure-kind of survival horror action game. Not to say, that the light and darkness mechanic is not something, that is a mechanical representation of the theme, but probably BioShock did stuff like this better and had more connection between the plot, characters, setting and the game mechanics.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          Alan Wake was neither poorly written nor failing to meet some made-up-on-the-spot criteria such as “It must make a statement about writing”. Those who say it’s poorly written are usually criticizing the manuscripts, which weren’t even meant to be written well as they were not Alan’s project in reality. They were essentially written by the dark presence as an incantation to alter reality, and should be judged as such. THEY ARE NOT ATTEMPTS AT ART! Aside from that, I thought the game was written rather well, at least on par with most other games which is all one should expect. No, it does NOT follow that because the game’s about a writer, the writing should be magnificent, particularly if you are fixating on things he only physically typed up, which would likely be dismissed as rough drafts anyway had it been written by a writer in a game you LIKED.

    • DrGonzo says:

      It’s not that it isn’t making a comment. It’s that it’s comment was on the linearity of games, the fact the game was just pretending to give you free will etc. At least that was how I saw it, putting a full stop on linear fps games. But then they made a crap sequel and announce an even more linear sequel.

      • Totally heterosexual says:

        I really dont get how you know that the the new bioshock is linear.

        • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

          Because from short gameplay vignettes, there are some, wait for it- no seriously- SERIOUSL-, guys just one second- scripted sequences in otherwise sprawling non-linear locations.

          • Bhazor says:

            I’m always amazed at how people choose to forget that Shock 2 was linear as well. There certainly wasn’t any freeroaming in it.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Way to judge a game you haven’t played. If you had looked a bit closer at the demo you would have noticed a few things, like the fact that there are a lot of scripts, but not all of them would be triggered by the player, from small ones (he could have killed the horse before Elizabeth tried to save him) to some bigger ones. In the demo you could literally see quite a lot of such choices the player made that didn’t really impact the game on the long run, but did short-term. He could have started shooting way before when he actually did, he could have missed that shooting as well, since he didn’t need to interrupt the execution to progress through the story. He could have killed all the baddies before they managed to bring in reinforcements, meaning that airship might not have even come at all and there were two ways of dealing with that airship as well. At a certain point the game blatantly makes the player choose between two routes, pretty early on in the demo in fact.

            All this still meant getting to the bridge and Songbird attacking the player. But calling Infinite linear is, at least according to what we saw in the demo, a stretch to say the least.

            Note though – I am talking about the demo. The actual game might be as linear as you can get. The demo though, didn’t seem to be.

  2. Hoaxfish says:

    If CODBLOPS The Second has a main character who has published military memoirs to pay for his extravagant lifestyle

    I can never remember which one Tom Clancy is.

  3. Kdansky says:

    I’ve watched parts of the Let’s play done by Shamus Young at http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=15724 of the first game and found it to be disgustingly boring. The story and the writing might be good (but it really isn’t), but the actual game?

    10: Use the flash light on an enemy
    20: Shoot it.
    30: Press the “do everything but shooting” button to advance the story.
    40: GOTO 10

    If I want to be nitpicky, then I would not even call this a “game”.

    • Gunrun says:

      I watched a Lets Play of Half Life and found it to be disgustingly boring. The story and the writing might be good (but it really isn’t), but the actual game?

      10: Shoot an enemy
      20: Pick up his gun
      30: Press the “do everything but shooting” button to advance the story.
      40: GOTO 10

      If I want to be nitpicky, then I would not even call this a “game”.

      What do you mean reducing a game down to basically nothing makes it sound stupid

      • MiKHEILL says:

        Heh, I was just about to post this EXACT half life comment :)
        I watched a Lets Play of Portal 2 and found it to be disgustingly boring. The story and the writing might be good (but it really isn’t), but the actual game?

        10: Shoot a hole onto the wall
        20: Jump through hole
        30: GOTO 10

        If I want to be nitpicky, then I would not even call this a “game”.

        • Optimaximal says:

          I watched a troll and found it to be disgustingly pointless. The wit and the grammar might be amusing (but it really isn’t), but the actual post?

          10: Dream up some drivel
          20: Write drivel
          30: Post drivel
          40: GOTO 10

          If I want to be nitpicky, then I would not even call this a “post”.

          • lijenstina says:

            10:GOTO 20
            20:GOTO 10

            The essences of life and it’s endless transition and the circle of life and death – the end is a new beginning and the beginning leads to the end.

          • pepper says:

            @lijenstina

            That may be so until your loop times out!

            You know, we may have solved the problems of life and death by using basic!

          • theleif says:

            ?FORMULA TOO COMPLEX ERROR IN 20

      • RobF says:

        Unlike the other examples, there isn’t actually much more to Alan Wake than what’s described so it’s a fair (and not that harsh) critique.

        But well done anyway, guys.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          If you want to get technical, there isn’t anything more to most games than looking, listening, and pushing buttons. It’s the FLAVOR of it all that tricks our mind into thinking there’s something more. And for me at least, Alan Wake certainly has that flavor. The shooting is repetitive? Okay. But it’s repetitive in almost every other shooter and I had a blast with them anyway. The writing is sub-par? Okay. But the writing is sub-par in MOST games, IMO, and it didn’t stop me from enjoying them.

          I play Alan Wake because I find the combat unique and satisfying, and I find the atmosphere unique and chilling, and I find the story unique and intriguing. See a pattern here? FLAVOR, my man! Variety is the spice of life, and so it is the spice of video games ;)

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Maybe RPS should write a novel about these games.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      “I’ve watched parts of the Let’s play done by Shamus Young at http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=15724 of the first game and found it to be disgustingly boring. The story and the writing might be good (but it really isn’t), but the actual game?”

      I watched the Let’s Play you’re talking about. Tore it to shreds. Alan Wake is a great game, from story to gameplay, if you have the capacity to understand it. They, did not.

  4. Xocrates says:

    “Although I’m loathe to defend the eventual damp squib of a plot, which never seemed quite outlandish enough for my liking”

    Personally, one of the things I liked about Alan Wake’s story was that it didn’t become too outlandish. It establishes its rules and follows them, escalating to an adequate level without ending up with a zombie, a mayan priest, and the internet fighting for world domination.

    Quite frankly, I would rather games learned how to make sensible plots before heading into complete outlandish stuff.

    • Bhazor says:

      It takes place in a fictional universe inside the mind of a disturbed inside the mind of a faceless eldritch horror. It’s already as outlandish as it can get. The problem is it never uses those ideas and you end up fighting the same three guys, in the same way, in the same place, with the same weapons with barely any deviation or exploration to alleviate the repetition barring a couple of piss easy bosses.

      • Xocrates says:

        What I said and what you said are two different things. Most of your points are design problems, not plot ones. Yes, they could use the concept to justify more game variety, but it’s still fundamentally a design problem.

        Also, the concept is outlandish, the plot isn’t. The plot takes the outlandish concept and scales it down to a personal level (i.e. it’s still about Alan Wake, not the eldritch abomination trying to take over the world), which is why I like it. It would be immensely easy to use the concept to justify ending the game with Wake literally nuking Cthulhu, instead of the symbolic low key ending that it actually got.

        • Bhazor says:

          But… that’s exactly what does happen. You find the deus ex machina, you stop the abomination and then you get some nonsense and then it just goes more outlandhish in the DLC.
          But it doesn’t get any more interesting.

          • Xocrates says:

            Yes… I guess you can say that’s what happens, but they keep it low key, which is something more games desperately need.

            Also, I doubt it would get more interesting by going all out. At least this way it looks like they were trying to tell a story, even if they didn’t succeed at making it an interesting one.

          • DrGonzo says:

            Agreed. I’m getting really sick of ‘epic’ in everything.

          • KenTWOu says:

            You find the deus ex machina…

            You find Chekhov’s gun!

          • Vic 2.0 says:

            I agree with Xocrates, what they did in Alan Wake is just what the doctor ordered. Tired of the same ol same ol. But I also thought the story was interesting and intriguing, and the DLC (though not intended to progress the story) was every bit as captivating in story and gameplay. They get pretty wild, I’d definitely recommend both DLCs for any fan of the original game, especially “The Writer”.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        “The problem is it never uses those ideas and you end up fighting the same three guys, in the same way, in the same place, with the same weapons with barely any deviation”

        Lies all around! Human models do repeat but not constantly. There are more like 5 types of “human” enemies (not including the human BOSS enemies) and maybe 7 or 8 sprites/skins for them, then there are poltergeists which vary in appearance (from a small wooden reel to a combine or monster truck) and movement (particularly speaking of the bosses), and also you have ravens attack you every now and then.

        You don’t have the “same weapons” near as often as you imply. Frequently, your inventory changes by way of gaining/losing a weapon, sometimes even to the point of only having flashbang grenades or no weapon at all! So needless to say, you’re not fighting the same enemies the same way.

        And you’re DAMN sure not fighting them in the same place! That one’s entirely made up on your part, as the environment is changing all the time. Contrary to all expectation, you’re only in the woods maybe 25% of the game.

        “or exploration to alleviate the repetition barring a couple of piss easy bosses.”

        I found most of the bosses to be quite challenging on my first playthrough, and there’s PLENTY of exploration here for a linear game (which is what they needed to make the intended feel of the game work), as there are tons of things to collect, read, watch, and listen to.

    • BooleanBob says:

      You’re talking about Fahrenheit, and I agree with you 100%. That the game (Simon Says does technically count as one) so perfectly described the full arc from perfectly judged atmospheric thriller to Dragonball/The Matrix/Dan Brown crossover fanfic never ceases to amaze me.

  5. Malfernion says:

    Love Garth Marenghi reference in the the alt-text.

  6. Bhazor says:

    So its a mediocre action game saved by a story but that story is also rubbish?

    Why do I get a Mass Effect vibe from that?

    • Xardas Kane says:

      I wonder too. Since Mass Effect was an Action/RPG, while Alan Wake is a typical TPS, and was lauded for its story.

    • Grape says:

      I love you, Bhazor.

      I love you.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      I actually enjoyed EVERYTHING in both Alan Wake games, from the gameplay to the story (even though the story in the spin-off isn’t really a full story, because it’s not really a full-length game like the original was). I found the combat addictive and really liked the presentation in how the story was carried out. Oh, and the atmosphere in both games was awesome too.

  7. Serenegoose says:

    Wait, is Mr Scratch just John Mirra from Address Unknown?

    • Robil says:

      Not only is Alan playing out Address Unknown, but it’s made fairly clear in American Nightmare that the books Alan is famous for writing are basically about Max Payne (‘Alex Casey’). Love the meta in Remedy games

      • djbriandamage says:

        Having played Max Payne 2 a bazillion times, the meta in Alan Wake absolutely slayed me. The protagonist’s novels are (mostly) the names of chapters in the Max Payne games, several voice actors are reused (most notably the actor playing Barry Weaver aka Vinnie Gognitti), and that one line where Sarah Breaker tells Alan she likes his writing although its “a little heavy on the metaphors” basically gnaws a porthole into the fourth wall.

    • IshtarGate says:

      When I played Alan Wake, I really couldn’t stop thinking that it was pretty much Address Unknown: The Game. I’m looking forward to Remedy’s next, Lords & Ladies: The Game.

      • CitizenDickbag says:

        Having taken on horror and hong kong action, Remedy once again dips into the asian well with Lords & Ladies, a unique take on the Japanese dating sim!

    • djbriandamage says:

      FLasHLiGHtS aRE MorE FUn tHaN TELeviSioN

  8. Maxheadroom says:

    I really liked the story in Alan Wake (made even more entertaining by the book that came with the special edition containing short stories and fbi case notes) but was very dissapointed with the DLC which removed all the story elements and the interact-with-the-town ‘daytime’ bits in favor of a string of shadow people to shoot.
    This unfortunatly just looks like more of the same

    • The First Door says:

      I agree, I loved Alan Wake for the interactions between people and the way you felt so safe in the daytime and so vulnerable at night. I played American Nightmare on Xbox and was really bored by it. I think the biggest problem is the more powerful weapons remove any feeling of helplessness you had in the first game. Plus, the characters in this seem much more hollow for some reason.

    • djbriandamage says:

      I finished Alan Wake for my second time this weekend and was floored by how much I adore just about everything about it. Then I fired up American Nightmare, shrugged, and put it away after 5 minutes. I’ll give it another try I guess but it’s definitely not more of the same. The mood and tone of the original are what made the repetition tolerable; it was just the right mix of serious, scary, and zany.

    • CitizenDickbag says:

      They didn’t remove the story bits at all! I’m gonna assume you didn’t actually finish The Writer, since it was full of positive flashbacks to Alan’s life with Alice, and the counterpoint of a caricature of her listing off how why she hates him and is glad he’s gone, which a matching doormat caricature of Alan with a TV for a head agrees with all of it. Also the giant life stages wheel was kind of amazing.

      The Signal was complete water-treading crap but if the story is what kept you going through the main game, you need to play The Writer.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        I agree. Though I enjoyed EVERYTHING Alan Wake (the original game, both DLCs, and American Nightmare), “The Writer” was definitely my favorite DLC. I never knew a team could put so many memorable moments in a friggin’ DLC, it’s ridiculous! Hehe

  9. Chaku01 says:

    I was quite dissapointed by the first Alan Wake when it came out on PC. Sooo much potential: open world engine, sweet graphics, good combat mechanics (although everybody agrees, far too repetitive) nice atmosphere, but after the first 3 chapters it just became tiresome grinding. I played till the end as I payed full price, but since then I didn’t even bother trying the DLC’s that came with it. can’t be bothered to try Night Springs, just the thought of going back to killing 2486 enemies with nothing but a non sense story and coffee cans as a reward is just too depressing. Can’t shake the feeling Remedy lacked confidence to do something bolder

    • Bhazor says:

      Theres little doubt in my mind they completely gutted their original open world ideas in order to fit it on the Xbox. A real loss. It could have been the hybrid of Silent Hill’s atmosphere, S.t.a.l.k.e.r’s sense of hostile open environments and Max Payne’s meaty combat but instead we just got a reskinned Max Payne.

      We could of finally had a high budget game succeed at being what Pathologic tried to be.

      • CitizenDickbag says:

        God yeah the xbox doesn’t have ANY open world games. No, dude, they did that because driving for five minutes to get to where the next part of the story happens fucks up the pacing.

        • Jekhar says:

          You’re talking about that finely tuned pacing where bits of character banter and cutscenes are tied together by long treks through repetive scenery containing repetive encounters of repetive enemies? No sir, not boring at all. Not to mention that most events and encounters are spoiled way before they happen by conveniently placed manuscript pages.

          • Vic 2.0 says:

            Chaku01 said,
            “I was quite dissapointed by the first Alan Wake when it came out on PC. Sooo much potential: open world engine,”

            Making the game open world would’ve been a huge mistake. It would completely ruin the intended feel of the game, both as a story-driven game and as a thriller/horror.

            “good combat mechanics (although everybody agrees, far too repetitive)”

            It wasn’t any more repetitive than most shooters, in my view. Plus the flashlight mechanic was interesting, plus I could dodge, plus the scenery and atmosphere was unlike any other I had seen in previous games. I found the combat highly satisfying and addictive. Even went through a few additional playthroughs for the combat and atmosphere alone.

            “can’t be bothered to try Night Springs, just the thought of going back to killing 2486 enemies with nothing but a non sense story and coffee cans as a reward is just too depressing.”

            How was the story “nonsense”? Do you mean to say you personally didn’t understand it, and/or wasn’t aware that thrillers/horrors do typically leave you with as much mystery as resolve? And the coffee thermoses were collectibles; collectibles need no other point than to simply be collected.

            Bhazor said,
            “Theres little doubt in my mind they completely gutted their original open world ideas in order to fit it on the Xbox.”

            You should learn to doubt yourself more. Remedy even told us the reason they chose a linear approach over open world was that linearity would better fit the intended feel of the story. And I agree. Horror/thriller games should almost always be linear.

            Jekhar said,
            “most events and encounters are spoiled way before they happen by conveniently placed manuscript pages.”

            Well, never minding that there is a very good story explanation for those FEW “spoiled-by-manuscript events” in the game (and that’s that Thomas Zane is trying to leave them in Alan’s path so he WILL know what’s coming), it actually doesn’t happen that way at all. Even when a manuscript does in fact tell of something that hasn’t happened yet (probably not even half the time), it doesn’t always make it clear what it’s referring to, doesn’t tell you WHEN it’s going to happen and names aren’t mentioned enough to spoil anything-plot related. Sometimes the manuscripts are intended as part of the story being told (i.e., the manuscript is the way you’re SUPPOSED to know what’s going on). But all in all, no, most events and encounters are not spoiled.

        • Werthead says:

          I read one interview where they said that in the open-world version you might go to meet your wife for a romantic evening and could turn up in a monster truck, which wasn’t the tone they were looking for. You can do that in GTA (even the relatively po-faced 4) because the whole game is geared towards that freedom, but it’s much disruptive to tone in an (attempted) serious, thriller game.

          • DrGonzo says:

            ‘po faced 4′

            In the voice of Plinkett, ‘Whaaaaaa…?’

          • Bhazor says:

            You mean they deliberately crippled their gameplay so that I wouldn’t damage their precious story?

            Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…?!?

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Bhazor, get off your high horse. Stating that modern consoles can’t handle open world games is trolling in it’s purest form, or did you forget the dozens of open-world games already out there on said consoles?

            Alan Wake isn’t open-world exactly because of what was already said – you can’t tell with a straight face a compelling linear story in the framework of an open-world game. What would an open world do for Alan Wake exactly? It would mean completely screwing up the pacing (the monster truck thing was a good example), adding useless side-missions that don’t really add much because the actual story is linear, and the open world would end up feeling like it’s there just for the sake of it. Games like GTA, Just Cause or open-world RPGs like Skyrim embrace their open-world nature. In the first two you can just go on a shooting rampage whenever you want and they completely embrace the goofiness coming with that, and as for Skyrim, you are pretty much encouraged to ignore the main story.

            Where does Alan Wake figure into all of this?

          • Bhazor says:

            You’re assuming there are only two types of game, you’re not Call of Duty therefore you must be a GTA clone.

            Look at the first two Silent Hill games, they were as close to open world as the tech allowed. Didn’t seem to damage thier atmosphere. Stalker likewise seems to cope fine under the burden of open world gameplay.

            Alan Wake is a shameless series of boxes and I seriously doubt that was the best they could do.

            Also doing a sandbox game is not the same as doing a sandbox game using the Wake engine. An engine that does hugely impressive things with light and physics. Physics in particular aren’t easy on a console and I notice this hurricane never made it to the finish line. Nor do we see anything approaching the draw distances displayed at the start.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            I don’t assume anything, I also think Alan Wake was a bit too linear, but saying they crippled their own game and it should have been open-world is not a good call. Neither is comparing it with Stalker yet again. What made Stalker great was exactly the survival part of it, complimented with unscripted events and an amazing AI. NONE of this has any place in Alan Wake, the two games go for a completely different playstyle. Your comparison makes no sense.

            EDIT: I encountered a hurricane-like evil force throwing cars at you about 10 minutes after I clicked on New Game. And my point stands – I can name dozens of open-world games on consoles. And don’t forget they DID use exactly this engine, showcased here, to make the game. The tech is in it, and it’s in the console version as well. It was a concious design decision to keep it linear. Was it the right the right thing to do? Maybe, maybe not. I think Alan Wake should be a linear game, but with its environments being at least a little bit more open and less constricted. But a fully open-world game wouldn’t have worked for a variety of reasons I already listed.

            And enough with the “they dumbed it down for consoles” argument. Half a decade ago it had already gotten old. I thought RPS readers are better than this.

          • Werthead says:

            ‘po faced 4′ – Well, po-faced compared to GTA3, VC, SA and its own expansions. It still had some crazy stuff going on (the helicopter mission with your pilot getting high as a kite whilst you were firing missiles out of the side door) but for the most part the story was fairly Serious and Niko was having far less of a fun time than any of his predecessor main characters.

            “You mean they deliberately crippled their gameplay so that I wouldn’t damage their precious story?”

            No. The gameplay would presumably have been the same (i.e. walking around and shining a torch at people and then shooting them) except with the addition of a day/night cycle and going into town to talk to people every now and then. ALAN WAKE was never going to be a full-on RPG or a huge sandbox with tons of different stuff going on (like GTA or SKYRIM) which would have justified the open-world setting. They even said that they wanted to go open-world because of the success of other games in that genre rather than because the game demanded it. This storyline was always going to be present and key, and presenting it in a sandbox format was not working for them, so they switched to a more linear format.

            Maybe they should have junked everything and created a different story and character to make the open world stuff work, but without the ability to peer into a parallel universe we can’t say that for sure.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            GTA 4′s story was a bit more mature but let’s face it, it was just quirky enough to justify you going on a killing rampage when you feel like it.

            “They even said that they wanted to go open-world because of the success of other games in that genre rather than because the game demanded it”

            That’s the point and that’s something they must have realized pretty quickly. Putting something in the game for the sake of it being there is not the right thing to do. You either build a game around an idea or you end up with something that falls flat on its face because one of the key gameplay elements (open-word) is just for the sake of being there and ruins the story’s pacing.

            I suggest reading KenTWOu’s post below mine. It’s a great quote he’s got there and just about sums up what I’ve been trying to say. You can’t create a tense atmosphere when at any point the player can wander off.

          • Vic 2.0 says:

            “I read one interview where they said that in the open-world version you might go to meet your wife for a romantic evening and could turn up in a monster truck, which wasn’t the tone they were looking for. You can do that in GTA (even the relatively po-faced 4) because the whole game is geared towards that freedom, but it’s much disruptive to tone in an (attempted) serious, thriller game.”

            Exactly. Making it open-world (or anything CLOSER to open-world, as Bhazor suggested) would’ve been a huge mistake. The developers knew that the game being both story-driven and thriller/horror meant that it should’ve been linear. Nothing else would’ve worked here. Nothing.

      • KenTWOu says:

        Theres little doubt in my mind they completely gutted their original open world ideas in order to fit it on the Xbox. A real loss.

        Bhazor, check this out.

        As the team built its sandbox prototype, though, it was apparent that something was missing. The freedom to go anywhere robbed the story of its purpose. As any good horror novelist will tell you, the slow creep of dread requires careful pacing. When players can abandon the search for their wife and go off logging instead, it’s hard to maintain the requisite atmosphere.

        “A thriller is very much like a rollercoaster,” Häkkinen says. “You need those build-ups to make the plunges feel all the more exhilarating. We just weren’t getting this in a sandbox design because all the game-istic things you need were detracting from the story being the focal point.”

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      Chaku01 said,
      “I was quite dissapointed by the first Alan Wake when it came out on PC. Sooo much potential: open world engine,”

      Making the game open world would’ve been a huge mistake. It would completely ruin the intended feel of the game, both as a story-driven game and as a thriller/horror.

      “good combat mechanics (although everybody agrees, far too repetitive)”

      It wasn’t any more repetitive than most shooters, in my view. Plus the flashlight mechanic was interesting, plus I could dodge, plus the scenery and atmosphere was unlike any other I had seen in previous games. I found the combat highly satisfying and addictive. Even went through a few additional playthroughs for the combat and atmosphere alone.

      “can’t be bothered to try Night Springs, just the thought of going back to killing 2486 enemies with nothing but a non sense story and coffee cans as a reward is just too depressing.”

      How was the story “nonsense”? Do you mean to say you personally didn’t understand it, and/or wasn’t aware that thrillers/horrors do typically leave you with as much mystery as resolve? And the coffee thermoses were collectibles; collectibles need no other point than to simply be collected.

  10. Sardonic says:

    “What do you get if you cross Homestuck, Fight Club, and the original Alan Wake? This game!”

    In all seriousness though, I enjoyed it, though I wish the locations had been a bit more varied, though in fairness they did manage to make it not quite as painful as it could have been to return to an area a second or third time. I also wish they skipped the live action stuff completely.

  11. Werthead says:

    Just got to the bit where the game loops for the first time. I was a bit puzzled as to why they made these big open areas and then basically just used them for 20 minutes each before moving on. Now I get it.

    AMERICAN NIGHTMARE is certainly different in tone to the first game. The weapons are much more plentiful and more powerful, not helped by the infinitely-recharging ammo cabinets (similar things were in the first game but much, much more infrequently). However, I wonder if one of the things they wanted to do was to show how an open-world approach doesn’t work that well. Each of the three areas in the game is reasonably big, quite open and you can wander around to your hearts content looking for extra manuscript pages (occasionally triggering random encounters with the Taken), but it gets a dull pretty quickly and makes no sense to the pacing. Unless they had completely changed the original game design to that of a full-on RPG, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE shows that a much bigger, fully open world version of ALAN WAKE would simply not have worked.

    Of course, this does also make AMERICAN NIGHTMARE less satisfying. I had fun with it – the central combat mechanic to the series is reasonably entertaining in how you juggle weapons and torch use against different enemies – but it’s not a patch on the original game.

    • Totally heterosexual says:

      I love you.

      Let’s make love.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        Well I don’t love Werthead, and I don’t want to make love to him on any day that ends in ‘Y’. But he’s 100% right. I think American Nightmare was awesome and satisfactorily creepy, but it didn’t have the same intensity and that’s mostly because of the sandboxing.

    • Bhazor says:

      “Unless they had completely changed the original game design”

      Yes, yes they should have. You’re excusing bad design with lazy design.

      There is no denying that Alan Wake was repetitive and yet rigidly linear. When a game is completely scripted and still feels repetitive then that is a sign they needed to start over again.

      If you want to see tension in a sandbox world just look at Stalker or even the earlier Silent Hill games. The sheer level of scripting ruined any tension in Alan Wake for me as the scares were so heavily signposted with the “focus button” and the uncontrollable camera jerks. The fact it was always blatantly clear where you were supposed to go removed any remaining tension fighting or exploration could provoked.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        There is an actual difference between what you seem to consider game design and actual game design. The game’s concepts are sound, they just should have just shaken it up every now and then with a settings change or something. The core though is working and enjoyable. Also, you seem to think Alan Wake is a horror game even though it says right on the cover it’s a “psychological action thriller”. Do you see any horror in there? I don’t. But I guess it’s one of the unexplainable public misperceptions, like people thinking Hitchcock is a horror director even though he has made exactly 2 horror movies.

        Comparisons between this game and Stalker are completely out of place. The games have absolutely nothing in common, whether it’s genre, design, tone, themes, what have you. And saying that scripted horror doesn’t work means dismissing Silent Hill 2 or Amnesia. Which is just plain wrong.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          Bhazor said,
          “There is no denying that Alan Wake was repetitive and yet rigidly linear. When a game is completely scripted and still feels repetitive then that is a sign they needed to start over again.”

          Almost EVERY shooter feels repetitive, in my view, because they ARE! I would even say they are MORE repetitive (“Shoot, shoot, shoot again, and again” is more repetitive than “Burn the darkness away, shoot. Burn the darkness away, shoot”), but then especially in Alan Wake that’s not the focus. We are talking about a story-driven horror/thriller game. That makes the suggestion that it should’ve been any less linear absolutely ridiculous.

          Bhazor said,
          “If you want to see tension in a sandbox world just look at Stalker or even the earlier Silent Hill games. The sheer level of scripting ruined any tension in Alan Wake for me as the scares were so heavily signposted with the “focus button” and the uncontrollable camera jerks. The fact it was always blatantly clear where you were supposed to go removed any remaining tension fighting or exploration could provoked.”

          Not for me. Oh, the others you mentioned had more jump-scares, no doubt about that. But then they were HORROR games, whereas Alan Wake is THRILLER. You obviously don’t know the difference. Still, the sort of tension produced by the atmosphere in predicaments in Alan Wake were magnificently done. I think the cinematics and “camera jerks” both added to realism and completely the TV series kind of vibe they were obviously going for. I mean, if you’re in the woods alone at night and you hear a sound, you’d best believe you will automatically (that means without choosing to) break your neck to see what made the sound.

          Besides, critics complained enough about the Taken appearing right next to them, etc. Doing away with presenting the enemies OCCASIONALLY (At least half the time, you still aren’t told when you’re about to be attacked) would’ve made that criticism even worse. For me, though, the game kept me on the edge of my seat – even if it didn’t make me jump OUT of it very often.

      • KenTWOu says:

        The fact it was always blatantly clear where you were supposed to go removed any remaining tension fighting or exploration could provoked.

        Just turn off your HUD and maybe then you’ll get unusual brilliance of Alan Wake’s level design. The funny thing is almost every reviewer praises this game for this. While almost every level of Alan Wake has it’s own “mountain goal”, thanks to its incredible engine with distant light sources.

      • Werthead says:

        “Yes, yes they should have.”

        Except that Remedy had never made an RPG before, it was totally outside their experience and they didn’t want to make an RPG. They also presumably had plans to make some money one day, and changing genres totally would have resulted in a much longer wait for the game.

        “There is no denying that Alan Wake was repetitive and yet rigidly linear. ”

        So are a lot of good games. MAX PAYNE 1 + 2, their previous games, most certainly were.

        “When a game is completely scripted and still feels repetitive then that is a sign they needed to start over again.”

        It does have a repetitive structure, but hell, so do most games, even most sandbox games (go to person, get mission, do mission – usually involving killing people/things – go back to person for reward, rinse repeat). What WAKE does do is try to introduce some variety with a very limited palatte, and I think succeeds in some places. You spend a lot of time fighting things in the forest, but in the next episode you might be fighting things in the forest with two allies, or with someone shining a light and offering fire support from an overhead helicopter. Then you might be fighting off the Taken using an impromptu rock concert. In other place the repetitiveness is more of a problem, although this is also a result of the fact that – after the ridiculously short MAX PAYNE 2 – they did want to give you quite a big game for your money. The only area I found it was really problematic was in the final episode, when the race down to the final confrontation seemed to drag on forever.

        “Also, you seem to think Alan Wake is a horror game even though it says right on the cover it’s a “psychological action thriller”. Do you see any horror in there”

        This is a key point. ALAN WAKE only really tries to scare you right at the very start. After that, Wake is well aware he can wipe out the Taken with his flash-and-gun antics as easily as Max Payne can wipe out a room of 20 bad guys with bullet time and dual Ingrams. Later on Alan’s so blase about it that he’s blowing them away left and right whilst exchanging quips with his fat comedy sidekick.

        • Vic 2.0 says:

          Well said. I actually liked the last episode too. I felt that what they were trying to do (because this is the effect it had on me) was establish that Alan was finally all alone (You’ll notice not even Zane made an appearance). This made that final episode most intense. I sensed the danger immediately, rivaling if not EXCEEDING the tension I felt even in the first episode. Really powerful stuff.

      • Vic 2.0 says:

        Bhazor said,
        “There is no denying that Alan Wake was repetitive and yet rigidly linear. When a game is completely scripted and still feels repetitive then that is a sign they needed to start over again.”

        Almost EVERY shooter feels repetitive, in my view, because they ARE! I would even say they are MORE repetitive (“Shoot, shoot, shoot again, and again” is more repetitive than “Burn the darkness away, shoot. Burn the darkness away, shoot”), but then especially in Alan Wake that’s not the focus. We are talking about a story-driven horror/thriller game. That makes the suggestion that it should’ve been any less linear absolutely ridiculous.

        Bhazor said,
        “If you want to see tension in a sandbox world just look at Stalker or even the earlier Silent Hill games. The sheer level of scripting ruined any tension in Alan Wake for me as the scares were so heavily signposted with the “focus button” and the uncontrollable camera jerks. The fact it was always blatantly clear where you were supposed to go removed any remaining tension fighting or exploration could provoked.”

        Not for me. Oh, the others you mentioned had more jump-scares, no doubt about that. But then they were HORROR games, whereas Alan Wake is THRILLER. You obviously don’t know the difference. Still, the sort of tension produced by the atmosphere in predicaments in Alan Wake were magnificently done. I think the cinematics and “camera jerks” both added to realism and completely the TV series kind of vibe they were obviously going for. I mean, if you’re in the woods alone at night and you hear a sound, you’d best believe you will automatically (that means without choosing to) break your neck to see what made the sound.

        Besides, critics complained enough about the Taken appearing right next to them, etc. Doing away with presenting the enemies OCCASIONALLY (At least half the time, you still aren’t told when you’re about to be attacked) would’ve made that criticism even worse. For me, though, the game kept me on the edge of my seat – even if it didn’t make me jump OUT of it very often.

  12. kurtcocaine says:

    “Enemies, corrupted by darkness, must have a flashlight turned on them, the beam intensified by a squeeze of the left trigger, and eventually a flash of silver light heralds the destruction of the dark and the right trigger can be squeezed instead of the left. BANG. Alan has more choice of weaponry for that right trigger this time around, from a nail gun to a combat shotgun, as well as his supply of flares and flashbangs.”

    WHY did you play this game with a gamepad..??? its a shooter and its on pc and you’re a pc-only site.. then why..? why does the reviewer use the word trigger thrice instead of click or mouse button..

    sigh.. this just made me fall out of love with you just a little bit.. :/

  13. StingingVelvet says:

    Maybe I’m weird, but for a site that seems to care about DRM now and then it annoys me you always link to Steam when there are DRM alternatives. For this game amazon and GOG both have it DRM free.

  14. MistyMike says:

    I’m flummoxed how so many of the commenters here are dedicated to hatin’ on the game for ideological reasons, i. e. ‘that’s not how games are *supposed to* be made!’.

    The amount of flak this game gets for linearity and the amount of cut-scenes seems to be rather disproportional, since there is plenty of similar story-oriented action-adventures. Even the recent Max Pain 3 comes to mind.

    People, get over it, the original concept of Wake (i. e. open-world game) was going nowhere, being stuck in development hell for ten blasted years. The concept was inherently flawed since a horror game really needs a coherent structure to maintain the tension level, not performing barrel rolls in a pickup truck or other such tomfoolery. At best, the original Wake would have turned up as ‘another sandbox’, like Just Cause, RF Guerilla, Prototype… etc. The sandbox is some kind of be-all and end-all of video gaming.

  15. SirKicksalot says:

    The first game implies Alan and his life are actually written by Zane. Everything makes a whole lot more sense then, since these stories are twisted by the Dark Presence. Nothing feels right in the world of Alan Wake.

    • Vic 2.0 says:

      There are many interpretations. Some believe Zane wrote Alan into existence, others believe it was the other way around. There is evidence to support either (Thomas Zane seeming to “not exist” in most of the world could be due to Zane writing himself out of the world… or Alan writing him INTO it). To me, it doesn’t matter. As the introduction states, “The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest, and it’s what we’ll remember in the end.”

      I would say they were really onto something!

  16. AtaliaA1 says:

    I enjoyed reading your posts. I actualy read the entire blog.

    I think if all of you who posted here would put yours energies together you would create one Heck of a Game. Something in the “System Shock” or BioShock realms. With your combined passion for gaming
    I can’t see a publisher saying no to what would come of your creative juices.

  17. Brynden says:

    Wow
    people have really forgot what games are all about
    clearly u people haven’t played Mario and their like.
    Video Games are about GAME-PLAY all the rest is just an addendum.
    Alan Wake (very much like its predecessor) Nails game-play to perfection.
    Shooting is fun running is fun finding a new weapon or facing a new monster is fun
    the graphics is breath taking and actually can compete with that of the Witcher’s 2

    Awesome game Awesome addon
    cant wait for the 2nd

  18. Vic 2.0 says:

    SPOILERS AHEAD

    “And of course he’s supposed to be a bit of a dick, I’ll wave my arms as I exclaim, he’s a trumped up success story who knows deep down that those manuscript pages, just like the works that made him famous, are a bit crap.”

    Lol, I suppose you’re going to tell me you’ve read all of his books? *rolls eyes* I’m positive I’ve read more of his work than you have, and his writing is great! The manuscript was “crap” because it wasn’t meant to be art to begin with. It was an incantation, made only to create the alternate reality. Recall that at one point in the game, Alan reveals that everything he tried to write was being “heavily revised” by “Barbara Jagger”. He was made to write for the dark presence; made to write what she wanted and how she wanted it to be written. Add to that the probability that he wasn’t even conscious most of the time he was writing. At another point, he uses the line, “Some part of me must’ve been aware enough to…” So, yeah, for these reasons and more, I don’t take anyone saying Alan’s writing sucks and using the manuscript as support for that claim seriously.

    Yes, Alan Wake is a writer; and yes, the game Alan Wake is a game about a writer *rolls eyes again*

    “The manuscript pages are still a bit crap and Alan still bangs on about being a writer but this time around he accepts that he’s little more than a flashlight and a gun.”

    You do realize that American Nightmare is not even a proper sequel, right? That it’s just a spin-off, entirely unrelated to the official storyline? I would’ve figured any critic of this game or the original would’ve been more knowledgeable about the subjects they’re critiquing… Anyway, your assertion about what Alan “accepts” is all in your head; there’s nothing in the game that even comes close to suggesting it.

    “Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a game about a man with some guns shooting other men.”

    False. His writing is still the central theme of the game. And no one in their right mind would write his enemies off as “other men”, lol.

    “That out of the way, here’s how the shooting works: exactly the same as in the first game.”

    Well, no. The flashlight recharges at a ridiculously fast rate, and some of the new weapons make for entirely different gameplay. I didn’t like these changes, myself, as they made the game far too easy. But I think this game was made just to get the critics of the original to stop whining anyway.

    “Even though the combat works in identical fashion in terms of control, there’s a greater variety of enemies this time around and you’re more likely to be swarmed by them so things are a little more interesting. If you played the first game you’ll know that ‘a greater variety of enemies’ means more than two so don’t expect a wide-ranging menagerie of Taken. There are big ones, even bigger ones, little ones that split into two when the light hits them, scrawny ones that transform into flocks of birds as a form of teleportation and a few variations of the standard assailant. Oh, and spiders, which seem quite different and threatening at first but then they pretty much die as soon as Alan looks at them. Rubbish spiders.”

    So in other words, you lied when you said “greater variety of enemies’ (than the first game) means more than two”. Of course, anyone who’s played the original game knew you were lying right away. There is plenty of variety in the enemies in the original game! You have your flankers, who move quickly to get beside or behind you. You have the ranged Taken, who throw knives and such from a distance until they’re close enough to swing at you. Then, you have assault Taken who are big, burly, ax-wielding, slow but powerful and hard to kill. You also have tele-flankers, who move at superhuman speeds. And then there’s the occasional massive Taken who are even larger, more powerful, and harder to kill than the assault variety; plus, they wield chainsaws. All of these require different amounts of burning to make them vulnerable to other weapons and different numbers of shots to take down. That’s not to mention the poltergeists (which range from a simple wooden real to a harvester to a monster truck, movements varying as well) or the birds who attack quickly from above by flying directly at you like darts!

    The increase in enemy types took place mostly because your antagonist in this game is not the dark presence (which is limited to possessing objects/humans who already exist) but another entity which can apparently create monsters at will.

    “It’s all utter nonsense”

    How do you mean that exactly? If you mean that it never really happened, well that’s quite a revelation, duh! If you mean that it doesn’t make sense, I would argue with that. If you have any questions about the original game or this one, I’d be happy to help you with them… if only so you’d stop spreading lies.

    “It’s more Lunar Park than American Psycho really but by the end of this particular story, I’m still unclear as to what the theme is.”

    Who says there must be a definite “theme”?

    “The most interesting thing about American Nightmare is that it’s a much better episode of an Alan Wake game than any but the first episode of the original game. It always seemed odd to me that Remedy chose the episodic structure for a game that was released as a whole and had no variety through its six chapters,”

    Maybe that seems odd to you because it’s an untruth you’ve convinced yourself of? American Nightmare was by no means “better” than the original. An increase in weapon and enemy types does not a good game make. The massive variety in environment alone made AW the better game. But then, all the ways they made AWAN way too easy (I haven’t even listed half of them yet) cinches it. You’re given far too much stamina (can run too far without tiring), you can spray enemies with a semi-automatic, you encounter far fewer enemies per battle and especially are given no real challenge if you decide to just linger in an area for a while, and you’re given an infinite supply of ammo for every weapon you have equipped on every map. That’s not to mention that the atmosphere (creepy as it may be), the writing, and voice acting can’t hold a candle to that of the original game. Yep, there’s your “better episode” right there.

    And the “Fight Til Dawn’ arcade mode was good, but could’ve been made better by allowing you to find/unlock all the weapons on all maps, as well as multiplayer.

  19. Vic 2.0 says:

    There’s more.

    “Remember how Alan Wake was about a man in a haunted forest? Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a game in which playing a Kasabian CD in a certain place causes a satellite to fall out of the sky and destroy an oil well.”

    Now that you have shown us that you didn’t understand even the gist of either story, let’s see what your criticisms of the newest one are.

    “Although I’m loathe to defend the eventual damp squib of a plot, which never seemed quite outlandish enough for my liking, despite alternate dimensions, rescripted realities and evil doppelgangers, I’ve found myself doing exactly that on numerous occasions.

    But it’s supposed to be a bit daft, I find myself saying, it’s a cocktail of horror story conventions with a self-aware sheen. And of course he’s supposed to be a bit of a dick, I’ll wave my arms as I exclaim, he’s a trumped up success story who knows deep down that those manuscript pages, just like the works that made him famous, are a bit crap.”

    Have you READ the works that made him famous? Likely not. You’re probably just another “Derrr, the manuscript in the original game is poorly written. That proves Alan is a hack writer, even though he didn’t even have the freedom to write what he wanted how he wanted” hack of a critic.

    “The manuscript pages are still a bit crap and Alan still bangs on about being a writer but this time around he accepts that he’s little more than a flashlight and a gun. It’s clearer now that the last thing Alan needs to be judged on is his writing. Although there’s some wibbly nonsense about rewriting events to change their outcome, like everything else Alan does, performing such metaphysical actions boils down to burning shadows from monster men with a flashlight and then shooting them with a gun. Maybe you’ll have to press a button afterwards or put a battery in a battery container. What you definitely won’t have to do is write anything.”

    So you’re faulting the game for not making us type up a novel as part of each mission?

    “Alan Wake isn’t a writer and Alan Wake isn’t a game about a writer. It’s a game about a man with a gun and flashlight (which is also, functionally, a gun) who tells everyone that he meets that he’s a writer.”

    Eh? He doesn’t tell anyone that except in the introduction. The rest of the world KNOWS he’s a writer.

    “That out of the way, here’s how the shooting works: exactly the same as in the first game.”

    Not true, actually. Aside from the increase in variety of enemies and guns, you no longer have auto-aim and your flashlight takes a lot less time to recharge.

    “Even though the combat works in identical fashion in terms of control, there’s a greater variety of enemies this time around and you’re more likely to be swarmed by them-”

    First part’s correct. Second part couldn’t be more false. There is more variety, but far fewer enemies in this one than the original.

    “If you played the first game you’ll know that ‘a greater variety of enemies’ means more than two-”

    There are more like five or six varieties of human Taken, dozens of poltergeists, and then the ravens in the original game. So that wasn’t accurate either.

    “It bears repeating that this is a game in which playing a Kasabian CD in a certain place causes a satellite to fall from the sky and destroy an oil rig. It bears repeating because the game repeats it, getting five or six hours playtime out of its three locations by revisiting them several times-”

    Stop intentionally misrepresenting the game. You don’t revisit each location several times; you visit each three times all total.

    “The most interesting thing about American Nightmare is that it’s a much better episode of an Alan Wake game than any but the first episode of the original game.”

    Not IMO. American Nightmare is a great game, but not near as good as most of the original. I would say Episodes 4 and 6 from the original, and then at least the Writer DLC were better.

    “It always seemed odd to me that Remedy chose the episodic structure for a game that was released as a whole and had no variety through its six chapters,”

    There was PLENTY of variety throughout the original game. It was just in Alan’s predicaments (objectives, inventory changes, environments, etc.) rather than in enemies and weird, wild weapons. The game just wasn’t about that.