OXCGN’s Alan Wake: American Nightmare Review
Madness, or makes you mad?
©2012 Arthur Kotsopoulos
In a fitting fashion it seems that Remedy have taken the Season 2 route of Twin Peaks with Alan Wake: American Nightmare and have given the player a more action-oriented DLC package that features less witty dialogue and mystery than its initial title in the franchise.
In the 5-7 hours that you’ll be playing American Nightmare you’ll notice an array of differences, from new ‘Taken’ to have to deal with as well as new weapons to fight the forces of darkness with.
These weapons range from:
- Sub Machine Guns
- Sawn-Off/Pump action/Combat shotguns
- Assault Rifles and more…
Previously on Alan Wake…
These ’previously on’ Alan Wake shows are almost as entertaining to watch as to actually play.
We continue to see Alan’s struggle with his evil doppelgänger, Mr Scratch, who plays a larger role in this DLC.
He’s the main antagonist and through watching the in-game television sets you’ll come to understand his character a little more and the reasoning behind why he is doing all this.
It doesn’t break any new grounds in story telling but it creates a freaky atmosphere and does help to push this story arc in the right direction setting us up for Alan Wake 2 when it is announced (hopefully) in the near future.
Mr. Scratch truly is a slimy demented character who has no trouble with showing us his true colours as well as giving us a little dance reminiscent of both Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs and The Man From Another Place from the Red Room in Twin Peaks.
Keeping us in the loop about already established characters such as Barry Wheeler and Alice Wake, to name a few, via the radio conversations with Eddie, American Nightmare also introduces us to some new faces who will be helping our ‘Champion of the Light’ as he tries to figure out a way to defeat Mr. Scratch.
With these new faces, however, I found that the dialogue between both Alan and the characters to be average and annoying, with the notable exception of Dr. Rachel Meadows at the Mount Redtooth Observatory.
Most conversations were a struggle to sit through and whilst they aren’t a necessity you will unfortunately miss out on story elements if you decide against standing around and finishing the conversations.
Whilst the dialogue has taken a hit, the game play has been tweaked and improved with movement feeling as fluid as ever and the shooting mechanics very solid.
With the exception of the Nail Gun, which is the most pathetic weapon I have ever encountered. It takes almost half a clip to defeat any Taken and even more against Splitter, so you really don’t want to be caught with that in your hands.
Sound check: something special
At a certain part of a mission you see yourself having to venture in a dark cave to find a battery. Paranoia kicks in when you start hearing noises and Alan doubts his actions.
It’s all crafted to perfection.
I sat on my bed walking at a snail’s pace to ensure nothing or no one would sneak up on me.
When I heard it on the radio during once section of the game I found myself just standing there listening to it.
Now when any game has somehow managed to get me to pause and enjoy rather than actually play the game then I know that the developer has done something special.
It doesn’t end there as you’ll hear this song pop up a few more times during other portions of your game time and I just loved that.
It gives me a high level of appreciation for the developer and I enjoy their work much more.
Each level is Scattered with:
- Ammo boxes
- Weapon crates &
- The recurring star: red exploding barrels
Whilst the weapons may make Arcade Mode easier, once you’ve unlocked the final 5 stages waves are thrown out the window and what follows is a relentless struggle to survive.
Less ammo is scattered and randomised throughout each stage with no warnings of the next wave, so it will truly test your reflexes and shooting skills.
Difficulty aside, whilst many will see this as another Horde/Firefight or whatever you may call it mode, each map is fleshed out with its pros and cons and only having to last 10 minutes they never drag out.
Sure once you’ve obtained each achievement for Arcade Mode you’ll stop playing it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it in the process.
Thoughts for next ‘season’
Whilst the TV industry and gaming industry work in different ways, Alan Wake‘s future games need to go back to a more mysterious, quirky, thriller pace.
Shooting and action are fun and all, but with an array of first and third person shooters dominating the market I would rather have something more thought provoking and mind bending.
Despite the game’s faults it still comes out strong in the end, offering a better quality experience for its short few hours than most retail games on the market.
©2012 Arthur Kotsopoulos
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