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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review: Alan Wake Collector’s Edition


Developer(s)                Remedy Entertainment

Publisher(s)                  Microsoft Game Studios

Engine                         Alan Wake-engine, Havok

Platform                       Xbox 360

Release date               May 2010

Genre(s)                       Third person, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Horror, Survival Horror

Mode(s)                        Single-player

Rating(s)                      ESRB: T
PEGI: 16+

I stopped by the other day at Jarir Bookstore with friends for a special gathering; I cannot help but to notice this game boxed in a bigger-than-usual box. I’ve been eyeing on it there everytime I visit the Game Section and it’s like luring me in to check it out. Tempted? Yes and intrigued enough to book it as one of my picks of this year (also to name a few Metro 2033 and Mass Effect 2). I made sure to take my time browsing the goodies that came along with the game before trying the game out. 

And so aside from the Game disc, they also included OST Disc, Alan Wake Files Book and a Bonus Disc. After a long time in the making, The Bonus Disk helps you to trace back on the developer’s history from their 1st games to their current project and I may say that it’s a good catch up content and Finland isn’t a bad place to live in. In addition, it has some small gift for your XBOX 360 and XBOX Live Arcade perks.

Who is Alan Wake? Why I haven’t heard much of this title and came out of almost nowhere in this country? Some may ask these couple of questions about this sleeper hit game but at the same time not as well known in this country. The game has brought to you by Remedy Entertainment who also gave us Max Payne series, by knowing that gave me an idea that the script and storytelling of this game will be interesting with other expectations as well. After many years of waiting (and some thought that it will never come out), it’s here and about time to presents itself, he is a famous Book Author who suffered a “writer’s block” and went on a vacation trip with his wife Alice Wake in a fictional place called Bright Falls outside Washington. After a short argument with his wife, Wake lost her inside a cabin house they rented when the lights suddenly turned off. Still searching, he jumped from the window to the lake and suddenly found himself in a different place in his crashed car and a blood injury on his head. Gradually, things will get all sorts of weird events that will welcome you horror and disturbing elements and find a couple of scattered manuscripts from his future book that suddenly comes to life. At first I thought the idea is no different from Silent Hill series. But there were a lot of differences that I discovered like Alan narrating his journey as he moves forward and encountering Radio, TVs and picking up manuscripts that gives you hints on what’s going on in Bright Falls. Read them if you will but I personally it helps to bring chillness of Bright Fall’s mysteries. Surprisingly, the formula work very well with great swaying executions.

It was a big mistake for me not to have this one a second look, I was stunned how well and fluid that phase was from cut scenes to in game events. To me, it felt like a Silent Hill/Max Payne/Horror/ Psychological Thriller TV Series that moves like an episodic TV show. With all those mixed up elements, it‘s brilliant. I like it as you stopped from a certain chapter and a song number plays like a commercial break from the entire thrill that’s been going on and if you start another chapter, it will make a brief recall on the last one like watching a Television Series. Adding great voice acting, disturbing environments that freaks me out sometimes and a semi-wide exploration environment (if you’re collecting coffee thermoses on the way). This made me realized that it’s been so long since I had that same feeling from Bioshock. It’s not much of a horror like a blood like Dead Space theme, however, it does not fail to make you want to peek on what beyond that other side and give it a go just to end up shaking your mentality as the dark and the forest turns against you.
Score:                      9/10

It’s not as an eye candy when I gazed on character details but it didn’t hurt much due to its long production, the graphics were not a sup to date but forgivable. The environment however, was well polished and it gives you a thrilling feel as you wave your flashlight in the dark. Water elements were very well rendered but don’t just compare it to Heavy Rain.
Score:                      8.5/10

Controls was not that hard to master and as I guessed it, there was a slight feeling of Max-Payne-ish slow motion elements whenever you make a successful evasion from hits. Simply a flash light, guns and a flair gun is you arsenals against dark spirits called “The Taken” which usually posse’s people and animals with dark clouds in their body and the possessed people sounded like a voice from The Exorcist movie. Simply the light is your friend and boy it feels great to have a flash light on but hey you’re not safe yet! And you have to stand under the light whenever your health is down to recharge again. Simple tasks but the trick is, the place will literally scare you with fogs, mini tornados, unknown gores and surprise attacks so it will spook you from time to time so be on toes.
Score:                       9/10

Has great music, great background (which didn’t failed to disturb me from time to time by the way) and great performances from the voice actors and actresses.
Score:                       9.5/10

Now that I tried the game, I admit that I under estimated this one in many ways. It’s not as Silent Hill as it is and not as Max-Payne-ish (like dodging throwing axe on air “crazy thoughts I had”). But sadly, this game is short, if you think after all those years in the making just to made it short, didn’t really made sense to me, but the company said that it’s just a part of something big for the franchise and I really am hoping to see more of Alan in the NEAR future. All in all, it’s a good buy and buying the collector’s edition wasn’t bad with only 50 Saudi Riyals differences from the normal Disk-only price. For the fans of Genre, this is for your delight. For those who are new in the department, buy it because it’s one heck of a thrill ride at Bright Falls.

Score                         8.5/10

Good price
A good book to read
Very nice OST & bonus disk
Easy Gameplay
Fluid phasing
Great Music, outdoor graphics storytelling
The characters will get you connected
TV Series feel to it

Character graphics are a bit painful to watch just a bit
Camera angles can get a bit of trouble when the action starts
Not quite a ground braking gameply
The ending might disappoint you if you don’t like how it turns out
Short and I want more

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