Alan Wake Divides Opinion

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Alan Wake (image: xbox.com)Alan Wake (image: xbox.com)OK, so that’s a slightly misleading title, all games should divide opinion in my book. We each experience them differently because of the different people we are – history, genes et al.

But Alan Wake seems to be good at polarizing opinion on Game People right now. We got four of our reviewers to write up their thoughts on it and each had something very different to say.

Adam Standing’s review highlighted how he was glad to see the game finally out and reveled in the genuine thriller feel of the whole game:

Alan Wake took its time, and the quality is telling. But, for all you know about the game’s mechanics, it’s not until you look it in the eye first hand that you appreciate what makes it quite so exciting.

Alan Wake has been in a holding pattern for a few years. It was first announce alongside the brand new Xbox 360, and in the intervening time has changed somewhat. What started out as an open world experience taking cues from the likes of Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead is now paired down to a more directed experience. It was originally more of a thriller game with a lot less action, but gunplay and combat now form a big part of the game.

The next evening after finishing I picked up my controller and started to play through again. It certainly warranted a second visit, but again what I hadn’t expected was that it was harder this time through. The game, I discovered, adjusts its difficultly to match your performance. Playing a second time, it soon realized I was by now a much better shot – so more ferocious monsters were sent my way.

Alan Wake is an unusual game for a few reasons, but the most impressive is that Remedy have taken their time to get this right. I’m looking forward to playing the additional download content that has been promised, as well as a second full episode after that. I simply what some more reasons to spent time back in Bright Falls again.

Dom Robert’s review of Alan Wake focused on gameplay and the way the story stayed with him like a good film:

Alan Wake 360 gets the light and dark gunplay right before worrying about the fear factor. And it is the jubilation of shooting fun that stayed with me more than the zombies.

Alan Wake has been a long time coming, and possibly has become overly enlarged in our view due to the wait. Despite high expectation though it delivers an experience that stays with you long after you have put the controller down.

But it’s not the haunting darkness, zombified villagers or threat or premonitions of the impending future that leave the deepest mark. It’s the game play. This is a game that does a lot of things right, but knows throughout what must be utmost.

Then there was Sinan Kubba’s Alan Wake write-up that found things a little dated at first before warming to the story.

Alan Wake could have been all-important for the Xbox 360. But falling short of expectations, it’s a game as waylaid as me, while still provided an old-fashioned thrill.

A long wait only ever raises the stakes, but they’re ramped even higher when you compare your work to Twin Peaks. Remedy hadn’t been shy about trying to create something that would evoke memories of Dale Cooper’s beautifully twisted story. And that was quite the hook.

By the end I had enjoyed it all. Albeit too briefly, it awoke the curious teenager in me again. It’s a small thing but to be applauded, so often I find myself waiting for a game to end just so I can move onto the next one. Wake really got under my skin like those shows I used to watch did when I was younger.

Coming away from it, I knew it could have been so much more, maybe even one of this generation’s most important games. Maybe that will happen in due course, but this first outing is not nearly on par with Twin Peaks. It was worth the wait, but in the waiting I had dreamed this into a much better game.

Finally it was left to Jen Rawles’ review to keep our feet on the ground as she outlined how, for her, this didn’t quite hit the mark:

Alan Wake wants to be emotive and psychological. It constantly barraged me with smug references to other works of fiction in the hope that I would compare the two favourably. But in the end this is fun to play, but by no means unsettled me as a person.

Alan Wake advertises itself hard as a Psychological Action Thriller. This conjures up images of being truly unnerved by the experiences within. Unfortunately while it holds these lofty ambitions, it doesn’t quite achieve them. The more I played it the more plainly flawed it felt. Enjoyable as a game but forgettable as an emotional experience.

Four very different reviews and four different opinions. For me though this is one of the most exciting aspects of video games – that everyone has their own experience. At the end of the day I don’t think there is a right review, it’s more a matter of opinion.

What did you make of it?

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