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Published on April 24th, 2011 | by Charlie

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Have You Played… – Alan Wake

“Have You Played…” is a weekly segment on asking gamers if they have played the game in question. It’s similar to “Do You Remember?”, but it looks at current generation games, no matter what platform they are on (as long as they are also on the Xbox 360)! The segment basically asks you if you have played it, so it gets you involved. If you have not played the game, at the same time, Charlie will give his score on how badly this needs to be played and if it’s for you. The segment is also for games good, or bad, so this segment will either tell you to play a game, or tell you to keep away.

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I was so happy when this was voted for this weeks “Have You Played…”. One of last year’s gems, it was a shame it lost its sales due to Red Dead Redemption, another great game. This game was hugely unappreciated and so many people didn’t see past the actual gameplay. It took one entire year for this game to sell more than one million, but now it has, there’s still a possibility of a sequel. There better be one Microsoft, because quite honestly, it’s one of the very few exclusives worth keeping. So I think what a lot of people did seem to hate about this game is that it had been in production for five years. But let’s face it, from what was seen back in 2005, it looks a hell of a lot better. As just mentioned, this game lacked sales, but honestly, if the game had received PC support from Microsoft, it would no doubt have sold a lot more.

Well this looks safe...

So the story about Alan Wake is that the main character (called Alan Wake of course) is suffering from what is known as “Writers Block”, which basically stops a person, mostly authors, from producing written work. He and his wife, Alice, decide to go away to get away from the press, the fans, and his own work (as Alan is a bestselling author). They head off to a place named “Bright Falls”, and while on their journey, Alan has a nightmare, which strangely warns him about supposed dangers that lie ahead of him and how he can protect himself. When he wakes up, he arrives in Bright Falls, where he meets some of the townsfolk, which includes a crazed fan of Alan Wake, called Rose, who you just can’t help but love her, two old men with Dyslexia who were once in a rock band, and a park ranger. He also meets a strange woman who hands him the key to the cabin he and his wife would be staying in. But Alan isn’t the only one with a mental problem, as his wife, Alice, has a fear of the dark. As soon as the lights go out, she starts to panic, which is what happens after Alan storms out of the cabin they stay in after a fallout between himself and Alice. Alan rushes back to the cabin to help her, and notices that she is missing. He fears she has fallen into the lake below, known as “Cauldron Lake”, and jumps in to rescue her. This is where things go slightly weird. He wakes up in the front seat of a crashed car and stumbles through the woods on a cold night. He stumbles upon pages of a manuscript, which was supposedly written by himself. The only problem is, he can’t remember writing it at all. As if things couldn’t get any strange, he encounters a dark shadowy man who tries to kill him. Now Alan is uncovering a mystery about the pages, in which the words are coming true before his eyes, and he is soon on the run from the police, and the creatures which hunt him in the night. So although this game is a third-person shooter, it features a unique way to defeat your enemies. Before you could hurt your enemies, you had to burn away the darkness which shrouded them. You could tell how much darkness had been burned away as the screeching went higher in pitch and when a light circle got smaller. Although it was a shooter, the game didn’t go crazy with weapons like SPAZ, FAMAS etc. It just referred weapons as “Pistol”, “Shotgun”, “Flare Gun”, “Rifle” and so forth. The weapons featured in the game were of those you may have taken if you were to go hunting. Do bear in mind, the game is set in a small town, hidden between mountains and trees, where deer’s roamed; so a hunting town basically. The better the weapon, the more firepower it had, and the more damage it did to your enemies. The game was told in episodes, as if it was a television show, in which each episode lasted between an hour to two hours long. The game was very good at being episodic too. At the end of each one, there was a cliffhanger which left you wanting more and more, and at the beginning of an episode, there was a previously segment reminding you on the story so far. At the end of each episode too came a song, recent and old. These songs were of artists such as “Poe”, “David Bowie”, “Roy Orbison” and the Finnish band “Poets of the Fall”, who of which performed three songs especially for the game. Poets of the Fall have a strong bond with Remedy Entertainment, performing songs for Alan Wake, Max Payne 2 and the remake of Death Rally.

That looks sharp. Best stay away from sharp objects!

The enemies in the game were the same but different. The main enemies, known as “The Taken”, are normal people who are killed and possessed by the darkness. They carry melee weapons and shroud their bodies with darkness. Depending on their size depended on how tough they were, for example, those with an axe were relatively easy to take out, while those carrying a chainsaw were relatively tough and packed a big punch. Other enemies were inanimate objects which would come to life and throw themselves at you, and birds which would swoop down and attack you. This game was also full of references, for example from the film “The Birds”, lots from the TV series “Twin Peaks”, “The Shining”, “Energizer”, and some of Remedy’s own games, such as “Death Rally” and “Max Payne”. There was so many that it was unbelievable how much work Remedy had put into the game. Alan Wake contained two of the best DLC that’s out there. For just 560 MSP, the two DLC’s added a bunch of new achievements, extra hours of gameplay, and a story outside the main story. In these DLC’s, Alan was trapped inside his own mind and he had to try and find a way out, which he was told countless times that he would never be able to get out.

Apparently, Dark is Deadly.

The main game itself didn’t receive too much promotion from Microsoft, but what promotion it had was great in itself. City advertisements were very creative, as there was one which at first looked like a black billboard with a light below it, and then at night, the light would turn on, creating the shape of a coffin. Another advertisement had a billboard in the shape of a sundial. It counted down to when it was night time, as once it turns night, that’s when you could die in the game. Remedy/Microsoft were both very smart in these advertisements. Another way they promoted the game was with a six episode live-action mini-series called “Bright Falls”, in which the main character, Jake Fischer, comes to the town of Bright Falls to get away from his wife, after they seem to be going through a few problems in their relationship. Not only that, but he is a news writer, and it’s those who write that the darkness is more keen on, so during his stay, he notices a change in himself and the town all around him. I won’t spoil anything because I would like you to watch it yourself if you haven’t seen it. I do hope that I convince those who have yet to play Alan Wake to go out and buy the game, as a sequel would be the best thing ever. It was just a shame it was released at the wrong time and took so long to make, but this game was definitely worth those five years. If many people are disappointed with the length it took to make this game, imagine how disappointed people may be if Duke Nukem Forever does indeed suck. For Alan Wake, I give this game:

9.5 out of 10

Alan Wake was developed by Remedy Entertainment and was released exclusively for the Xbox 360 in 2010.   What should next week’s “Have You Played…” be? Vote below: [polldaddy poll=4964186]

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About the Author

Some say I should be a video game journalist, others say a video game designer. Shame you can't be both.



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