Alan Wake
Alan Wake Hands On Preview - Remedy & Microsoft's Secret Weapon
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You know when you’ve waited for a game for so long and when you finally get your hands on it, it totally sucks? Well... it doesn’t have to suck, but it’s not as epic as you thought it might be. Take Too Human for instance. Let me clear something up, Alan Wake does not fit into this category and despite waiting for this game the entire time I’ve been a part of this site (which is well over 4 years now), after going hands on with it in London recently, I actually want it more now... if that’s possible.

By now you should know that Mr Wake – Alan to his friends – is a writer. I’m sure you’ve heard the spiel before, right? He’s a writer, writer has writer’s block, goes away with wife to Bright Falls to clear his head, wife goes missing, Alan blacks out, wakes up some time later where a story he doesn’t remember writing is starting to coming true. That’s the crux of it. We had the pleasure of going hands on with chapter one of the title recently and although we won’t spoil its awesomeness (as always), we will talk about a few plot scenarios and such, and how Remedy have us on the edge of our seats. As with any game these days, the opening moments of Alan Wake sets up some of the game’s mechanics and acts as a tutorial for the rest of your experience with the game.

The opening scene picks up with a tired Alan Wake navigate a winding mountain road late at night behind the wheel of his oak-panelled car, moments before striking down and killing an unfortunate – and careless – hitchhiker. Alan does what any sane man would. He panics. It was an event outside of his control. He couldn’t do anything about it. If he fessed up to it, he’d surely end up in jail. He can’t afford to do that. For Alice’s sake. It is then where a series of events unfold that introduces Alan to the dark power that he has to overcome throughout the game. In this opening chapter you’re guided by a light and with Alan narrating the adventure, you’ll learn how to heal, how to sprint, how to use your flashlight and more importantly, how to kill any dark-spirit possessed being. Killing the dark spirits requires that you first defeat the dark shield with the flashlight - holding the left trigger provides a turbo burst of light - and then their demise is only a couple of shots away with the handgun.

Firing is a tricky art to master to start with as you have no reticule to guide where you are firing, but you’ll learn to use Alan’s flashlight as a reticule of sorts. The turbo of the flashlight is a great way to weaken your foes fast but be warned, you do have to keep an eye on your battery life. Use them too much and you’ll be left with a serious shortage of juice. That being said, it’s possible to survive on 1 battery as they regenerate when the turbo isn’t being used. From a personal standpoint, I finished the first chapter with over 20 batteries in my inventory, so battery conservation won’t be as big a problem as it could have been… thankfully. If all else fails with the flashlight and gun combo, you can use the trusty flare gun - which acts as Alan’s light rocket launcher with all kinds of crazy splash damage - or flash grenades - which are just as useful.

A short and almost clichéd cutscene later and Alan and his wife, Alice, are on a ferry heading across to the Bright Falls dock… in the day! Yes, the day. The next scene really is more of a mood setter and gives you a chance to meet one of the many locals you’ll encounter in the game; a radio DJ by the name of Pat, who you’ll be hearing a lot more of in your time in and around Bright Falls. After admiring the epic view, soaking in the scenic wonderland, telling Pat in polite terms to piss off and posing for a photo for Alice, it’s time the couple headed to the local diner to pick up the keys for their holiday retreat.

As soon as Alan walks in the diner the local waitress, Rose, treats Alan like the prizewinning writer he is, almost giddy by his arrival. A couple of quirky elderly bikers squabble and seek the assistance of Alan by the jukebox, non-the-wiser of the stature of the small time celebrity that lurks amidst their ranks. Enough of the locals though, Alan has a job to do and after a trip down a darkened alley – which was preceded by a warning from another local about the dangers that lurk back there – and a visit from a mysterious elderly lady, Alan returns with the keys for the lodge.

The lodge down by the lake is like something lifted out of a Stephen King novel, from the giant withering fir trees and the picturesque golden sunset, all the way down to the traditional log cabin with its stone clad chimney. It’s here where you learn of Alice’s fear of the dark and the story goes from first to fifth gear. Suffice it to say, something happens, Alan blacks out and the story picks up a good while later.

The majority of our hands on consisted of this next set of events where Alan’s objective was to cross through the woods of Bright Falls, navigate across the shallow canyon, to find help at a small gas station that showed some sign of life. Staying true to the formula and being the action sequence of the chapter, the rest of the chapter took place at night. Alan will have to traverse through eerie wooded areas, fight through dark forces that occupy the logging yard – whilst solving a rather simplistic puzzle – and walking the slippery logs that provide Alan’s only safe route across the treacherous waters. The dark and light theme that Remedy are pushing is at its strongest at night – obviously – and Alan will constantly have to use safe havens – which are basically large lit areas with supplies – to survive and use the torch to find hidden goodie packs that are cryptically hidden – their whereabouts only made clear if you happen to catch the UV painted arrows that are dotted around the environment with the torch beam. The scene ends after a good 40 minutes of solid combat and fear induced gameplay with a short cutscene prompted by Alan’s safe arrival at the gas station.

A fraction of Alan Wake’s charm is the mood and the atmosphere that Remedy have managed to capture – two essentials if you’re going to make a successful thriller. You’ll constantly have those, “what the hell was that!?” moments as you check to see whether any dark spirits have spawned behind you. If it’s not that, you’ll either be creeped out by the moving eyes on a TV screen in a small log cabin you take cover in or you’re checking to see what that bump was. I mean seriously, what was that bump!?

So where is the rest of Alan Wake’s charm you ask? Well that’s most definitely in its story which has plenty of mini-cliff-hangers and jaw-dropping bombshells in just the opening chapter alone. Oskari, Hakkinen, Director of Franchise Development at Remedy, promised us that we can expect more and bigger twists as Alan fights to find the whereabouts of the love of his life. If Remedy can top the chapter one twist again and again throughout the game then... Wow, just wow. Who said video games lacked the skills to tell great stories?

If you had hoped that Alan Wake would be collectible free, think again. In the first hour alone we were introduced to two types of collectibles: the coffee thermoses and the missing manuscript pages. Whilst the manuscript pages serve as an innovative story telling method that almost prepares you for the events that lie ahead, the thermoses seem to have no discernable effect or advantage…. well at least not in the opening chapter anyway.

Quick word on the achievements and if the opening hour or so is anything to go by, Alan Wake will be a proverbial achievement gold mine when it ships in May. A lot of the achievements I picked up early on were story related or for tasks like simply killing two possessed spirits with one shot (easily manageable with the shotgun). I sense a collect all thermoses and collect all pages of the manuscript achievement though, but of course, that’s purely speculation.

The first chapter alone made me think that Alan Wake is the game I wished it always would be. With a superbly written story with a monster twist as early as the first hour, the only thing Alan Wake could do with is a little more polish. If Remedy have enough time to fix the lip syncing issues and maybe round off the few rough graphical edges you can encounter, then Alan Wake will be winning fans over this coming May. If they don’t fix them, they’re hardly immersion breakers, but it may hold it back from that illusive “killer app” moniker. Whilst Alan Wake isn’t really breaking new ground in terms of gameplay and we have to feel that unless we see a bit of variety in the action gameplay, it might become a bit stale, but Alan Wake isn’t about the action, it’s about the story. And if you’re looking for a good story this May, Alan Wake seems like too tempting an offer to pass up.

Alan Wake is out May 18th in North America and May 21st in Europe.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 2098
Comment #2 by Filter x360a
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:03:50 PM
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I want it...NOW!

Forum Posts: 219
Comment #3 by nicky6314
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:06:35 PM
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getting more and more interested in this. never been a fan of survival horror games, but this looks good

Forum Posts: 117
Comment #4 by some Irish guys
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:08:29 PM
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Looking good!

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #5 by Mr Theropod
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:28:13 PM
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My problem is this - It sounds like they just picked up several Stephen King novels and mashed them together. I love reading Stephen King, but i just hope this is original on its own.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #6 by PaidByTheKill
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:31:03 PM
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Looks tight. Sad that it probably won't last all long, unless it has DLC.

Forum Posts: 220
Comment #7 by LobsterCat
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:33:39 PM
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This looks DOMINANT !!!!

Forum Posts: 291
Comment #8 by iLLMATICxKiNG
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:34:35 PM
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Forum Posts: 664
Comment #9 by mentaljason
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:35:05 PM
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This is gunna be fucking intense!!

Forum Posts: 14792
Comment #10 by Webb [STAFF]
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:37:58 PM
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@#5 - I've read a few Stephen King novels in my time, and the twist in the beginning is something that I can say with a little bit of certainty that SK hasn't done before.

Forum Posts: 594
Comment #11 by MLG=Most Likely Gay
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:42:23 PM
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I hope this is amazing.

Forum Posts: 2677
Comment #12 by Ryot Control
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 08:49:44 PM
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Is the innovative manuscript collectibles idea really any different from any other storytelling collectibles from any other game like Saw?

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #13 by neoxbomb
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 09:11:15 PM
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god! its so close!!!

Forum Posts: 124
Comment #14 by Prime8
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 09:28:27 PM
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I've heard of this game, but never cared enough to read up on it or anything until now. The supposedly great story is enticing.

Forum Posts: 82
Comment #15 by dementedlullaby
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 09:31:52 PM
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Game looks so good. Wait has been long enough.

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #16 by I Lugi I
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 09:32:12 PM
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.......look like a good Alone in the Dark. No?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #17 by asilent boom
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 09:38:53 PM
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May is PACKED. I wonder which games will be delayed because right now Alan Wake, Lost Planet 2, Skate 3, Prince of Persia, Back Breaker and Split/Second are all releasing on May 18th. With Blur and UFC 2010 the week after.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #18 by blackout529
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 09:53:00 PM
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Wow this game wasnt really on my radar until now. Might pre order this soon.

Forum Posts: 25
Comment #19 by XHunterrX
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 10:01:32 PM
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Game looks really good

Forum Posts: 536
Comment #20 by DarqStalker
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 10:54:03 PM
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I want this game so bad and with all the hype surrounding it, I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #21 by Aussie27Legend
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 11:01:44 PM
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Bring on May =D

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #22 by xKTAx Ultimo
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 11:23:56 PM
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Didn't they say something about a demo for this game? Whatever....maybe i'm dreaming.

Forum Posts: 4153
Comment #23 by VladimirK
Monday, March 01, 2010 @ 11:27:05 PM
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Haha, wasn't this slated for April just a few days/weeks ago?
Don't say it's happening again...

Still, I'm looking forward to this again.
The CE looks great aswell if they keep it as it is.

Forum Posts: 1190
Comment #24 by Ozbaab
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 12:56:44 AM
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Forum Posts: 1
Comment #25 by ThaBonnet
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 01:21:12 AM
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Forum Posts: 2773
Comment #26 by jtr1gg3r
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 02:07:18 AM
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holy sh*t, its story was made by stephen king?
I didnt know that...... WOW, all I can say is this game is gonna have an absolute belter of a campaign.

Multiplayer anyone??? lol jokes =P

Forum Posts: 1519
Comment #27 by BarbaricGoose
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 03:11:19 AM
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Survival horror.. Man, I love them.

Been lookin' forward to Alan Wake for awhile now, and it just keeps getting better.

Forum Posts: 123
Comment #28 by kitch
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 03:48:10 AM
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this game looks awesome i cant wait 4 it

Forum Posts: 53
Comment #29 by Dmas
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 04:00:21 AM
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can't wait anymore i want it now !

Forum Posts: 595
Comment #30 by ZanKioH
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 04:04:47 AM
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5 Days after my birthday. Nice little present on the side me'thinks

Nice article

Forum Posts: 12
Comment #31 by williamsjohn83
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 05:14:40 AM
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@6, there are definatley plans for dlc for this game as if you buythe special edition you get a code for the 1st dlc with it :-)!!!!!!

Forum Posts: 295
Comment #32 by Juiceh
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 06:08:10 AM
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Just by looking at this, I get a "Alone in the Dark" feeling. I want this game so bad.

Forum Posts: 103
Comment #33 by ITIGHOSTITI
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 07:53:34 AM
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Great info thanks! Looking forward this more than ever now.

Forum Posts: 455
Comment #34 by DamagedWill
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 07:55:36 AM
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Already preordered. I can't wait.

Forum Posts: 817
Comment #35 by WickedD365
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 08:02:12 AM
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Already paid off. I want it now. Come on May!

Forum Posts: 504
Comment #36 by padraiglovesyou
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 11:21:27 AM
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must have.

Forum Posts: 291
Comment #37 by ViNyLek
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 01:23:08 PM
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SPOILER DO NOT READ ~~~~ Alan is just dreaming and at the end he will wake up thus the title - simply speculation but seems plausible^^

Forum Posts: 176
Comment #38 by Dredgon
Tuesday, March 02, 2010 @ 04:14:33 PM
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Sounds sick, cannot wait!!!!!

Forum Posts: 417
Comment #39 by Euvel
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 05:44:36 PM
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As long as we're low on ammo and high in cardio this will be a great game.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #40 by Erwo the Elder
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 @ 06:01:25 PM
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Can't wait!!!

Forum Posts: 40
Comment #41 by Stealthcake
Thursday, March 04, 2010 @ 11:40:51 AM
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Sounds amazing, hope it lives up.

Forum Posts: 427
Comment #42 by Unbrokensoul
Thursday, March 04, 2010 @ 01:05:18 PM
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tThank god. The last few months of 2009 was getting seriously dry when it comes to games. I can't wait to play this def. a part of everyone's top 10 games to play in 2010.

Forum Posts: 26
Comment #43 by SuddenJonatan
Thursday, March 04, 2010 @ 02:56:09 PM
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Forum Posts: 526
Comment #44 by aCzarX
Thursday, March 04, 2010 @ 03:50:39 PM
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Wow a realease date , Amazed lol

Forum Posts: 15
Comment #45 by PurOx
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 @ 06:34:17 AM
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Can not wait for this game.
This and Splinter Cell Conviction I have to look forward to.

Forum Posts: 406
Comment #46 by iruhlman
Friday, March 19, 2010 @ 06:33:41 PM
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sorry this article fails right at the start. Too Human was an awesome game dude.

Not wise to lead an article bashing a game

Forum Posts: 132
Comment #47 by Udak
Thursday, April 08, 2010 @ 05:20:55 AM
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Wow, too human sucked.

Anxiously awaiting this, now.

Forum Posts: 153
Comment #48 by THe Silent Assassin
Thursday, April 08, 2010 @ 06:05:48 AM
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so gonna get this

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #49 by alec74
Sunday, May 16, 2010 @ 07:28:08 PM
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cant wait

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Game Info


US May 18, 2010
Europe May 14, 2010
Japan May 27, 2010

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