Republished with permission of gamepeople.co.uk game reviews.Alan Wake Rating: T Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Alan Wake, despite its technical prowess, still feels half-a-decade old. But rather than holding it back, these limitations make the game more intense and believable.
The more time I spent with Wake, the more I was impressed by the game’s delicate balance between subtle detail, and its grandiose scale. Wake’s choice of holiday destination, Bright Falls, is afforded a sense of place within Wake’s world.
Although the lack of open world play makes Alan Wake technically isolated, this actually builds on the sense of being in the middle of nowhere. This combines with the impressive draw distances to underline your limited boundaries and hemmed in progress.
In stark contrast, the game’s other visual technique – light – was more intentionally successful. Alan’s torch, entirely believable in its presentation, was a weapon, a means of finding hidden cache’s, and a way to find my way. The striking visual contrast between light and dark, one of Remedy’s focal points, again added to the suspense and claustrophobic feel of the experience.
Perhaps because of these decisions – to keep things limited and focus – the game never once buckled under its own weight.
Perhaps because of these decisions – to keep things limited and focused – the game never once buckled under its own weight. Choppy frame rates, lengthy loading times and graphical blemishes were non-existent. Despite its vast lakes, mammoth mountain ranges, and array of lighting and atmospheric effects, Alan Wake rarely crumbles.
All this builds to create a technically impressive achievement – one that both knows it’s limits and achievements. Prior to Alan Wake, I seldom thought of light as a physical object, something that could be used as a weapon or a tool However, Wake made that entirely believable. Alan’s torch, flash grenades, flares, and headlights all took on a sense of heft.
Some will praise these techniques, while others will miss the wise compromise and critique Wake for being at its heart a corridor shooter. The lack of variety and technical restrictions may be too much for some as Wake often turns into a one trick pony.
These technical limitations are evidence of intelligence at the helm.
But for me these technical limitations are evidence of intelligence at the helm. Remedy’s attempt at a pseudo-realistic, super natural thriller needed to hit certain notes. The right compromises have been made at a technical level to ensure the aesthetic and story could continue as it needed. And this for me is as much of a success as the grandiose technical claims of the Grand Theft Auto or Modern Warfare games.
Written by Simon Arquette for gamepeople.co.uk.