Published on May 22nd, 2012 | by Charlie0
Review: Alan Wake’s American Nightmare (PC)
Summary: Charlie takes a look at Alan Wake's American Nightmare on PC, is it any good? read the review to find out!
Exactly three months after it’s Xbox Live Arcade release, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare makes it’s way to the personal computer. But with just three months porting time, how well have Remedy and Nitro Games made this port? Is it as good as the first game’s PC port?
Please bare in mind, we previously reviewed this game on the Xbox 360, which you can read here. This review will contain story spoilers from the first Alan Wake game to help with this review
So Remedy had said that to those who hadn’t played the first Alan Wake prior to American Nightmare will be able to buy the game and understand the concept. Whilst they may understand the concept of the game (it’s simple. Burn away the darkness and shoot), they may not understand the story; don’t get me wrong, since this is my second playthrough, I understood a lot more in terms of story, so multiple playthroughs do help. The game takes play two years after the first Alan Wake, where Alan is still trapped in the dark place, where he is being hunted by Mr. Scratch, the evil doppelganger of Alan. He is thrown into Arizona, but what he does not know is that he’s in an episode of Night Springs. What he does know is that the events that unfold in front of him are a manuscript he wrote… but there’s a problem. Despite the pages being written, he needs to take those pages and change reality to what it says on the page for them to work; so if he wants that satellite to fall out of the skies, he has to do what it says on the page. But things go from bad to worse when time loops, and he and the characters around him are forced to relive the same moments over again until Alan can get them perfect. The optional story content can be rather interesting, because it helps get a deeper insight into the premise of the franchise; it helps explain why things happen.
It’s a very interesting concept, but the problem here is that you end up visiting the same environments, with people and objects doing the same animations; while in Alan’s world, it’ll be a hard life, but in the gamers world, it can feel sluggish and dull. Not that American Nightmare isn’t fun, but the idea that you explored forests and a proper town on the brink of destruction, where you explored new environments in each episodes was tonnes better. Throughout American Nightmare, you only ever explore three environments, compared to the first game’s many locations. In the first game, whenever you went out into the open, Taken (the enemies of the franchise) could have appeared at any moment, but in American Nightmare, they seem very scripted, and instead of facing numerous Taken in open spaces, you’re hit with an invisible wall. The first game didn’t use invisible walls like this game does, it tended to use a blockage of some sort, like a car was thrown in your path or there’s construction work that’s being done.
Characterization is one thing Remedy manage to get perfect. They did it in Max Payne 1 and 2, they did it in the first Alan Wake, and they’ve pretty much done it in American Nightmare, minus 1 or 2 characters, where the voice actors just aren’t natural voice actors. I must say though, both Ilkka Villi and Matthew Porretta do a brilliant job portraying both Alan Wake and Mr. Scratch. Mr. Scratch, despite being the psychopath he is, can be a real charming and funny guy; no matter what gender you are, you’ll really “get him”. The game also see’s the return of a few notable characters, including Barry Wheeler and Alan Wake, but we’ll leave you to find that content in the game; it’s really interesting to find out how previous characters’ lives have moved forward.
One thing I must totally praise Remedy and Nitro for is it’s upgrading with it’s graphics. Even though the graphics aren’t realistically perfect, they look so much sharper than the first game. The slight problem with making the graphics sharper and 1080p quality is that there are moments that the graphics may look stretched out; moments you might not have noticed in the Xbox 360 version. Those moments are very few, so they’re not too much of a problem. All in all, the graphics update makes the PC version look better by far.
With a new game comes new weapon types, including the nail gun, the sub-machine gun and the assault rifle. One of my favorite weapons of the new weapons throughout the game would be the crossbow, purely for the fact that most hits with a crossbow is a 1 hit kill; you don’t even have to burn away the darkness to kill them with the crossbow. You could say that this may make the game way too easy, and I must say that the “normal” difficulty of American Nightmare is just too easy. Fortunately, Remedy have included a “Nightmare” difficulty for the campaign to make things harder, which was not in the XBLA version.
Something many Alan Wake fans had hoped for was an arena style mode, where you would end up fighting all sorts of Taken. This is known as the “Fight ‘Till Dawn” mode, where you have to fight waves of Taken for 10 minutes. For a small downloadable title, 5 maps seem like enough, where you unlock each map depending on how many stars you have on your profile. A couple of these maps are based off a few notable areas in the 3 environments in the campaign, but other maps are completely original. I really do appreciate this mode, and this mode has been made even better with leaderboards, meaning you can compete with friends. It’s just a same that the game literally is 10 minutes long; perhaps in Alan Wake 2, they need a new mode called “Fight Through the Night”, where you literally fight until you die with no time limit. This mode will eventually get harder, as in order to unlock more maps, you need to earn more stars, which gets difficult by the time you reach the “Nightmare” mode maps, where enemies just spawn endlessly for 10 minutes without warning and where the enemies have more durability; it definitely adds way more of a challenge.
Like Alan Wake on PC, American Nightmare improves itself with the help of the power of a PC. Now that both Alan Wake games are now on PC, here’s hoping Alan Wake 2 may be released on the PC and Xbox 360 on the same day. Unless Microsoft are like: “Yeah. Want Alan Wake 2 to be a timed exclusive?” That would be pointless.