by Christopher Park
previewed on X360
Hard work for your gaming pleasure
Game development is usually a long process, and with technology becoming more and complex with the advent of more and more sophisticated rendering methods, they can only get longer. Alan Wake, the next game from the Finnish Remedy Entertainment, is a testament to this general rule. For some perspective, Alan Wake was announced 4 years ago at E3 ’05. With a vague release date of Spring 2010, this means eager Remedy fans will have patiently waited for roughly half a decade for Remedy’s newest release, and it might actually be worth the arduous wait.
Before Remedy took on Alan Wake’s herculean development cycle, they were widely known for Max Payne and its sequel Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne. The first game had tight, cathartic gunplay amplified by the then-innovative bullet time, while its sequel refined the gunplay on all fronts. Both were also know for their well-written, serious and gritty narratives, with Max’s metaphorical mumblings and his ascension from destructive depression to revitalization made Max a man worth caring about.
Dark, gritty storyline
Remedy has a good talent with creating dense, interesting storylines and plots and this is something that the developers have pushed as a major selling point with Alan Wake. Story is a very big deal in Alan Wake and what has been revealed of it thus far sounds promising. The titular character, Alan Wake, is suffering from a writer’s block and so his wife, Alice, takes him to the countryside of Bright Falls in hopes of getting him back into this groove. Things are fine until the events from the latest thriller Wake doesn’t even remember working on start occurring in real-life. To add to that, Wake’s wife has gone missing and there is the off-hand chance that Wake is just suffering from a very severe case of psychosis, which might mean a lot of the events that are transpiring might not be reality. There’s a lot to figure out.
And, well, that’s about as much we know. We know about as much as we knew when the game was first announced, and all the recent trailers and presentations have only reestablished the basic plot points of Alan Wake. It seems Remedy’s keeping this story under wraps and if Remedy can deliver on their promise of a compelling narrative, then it is probably better to know less than more.
The importance of good lighting
One aspect that was not truly revealed until this year, however, was the gameplay. There was never a good sense of how Alan Wake was going to play until it was revealed at this year’s E3. Would it be in the vein of something similar to Max Payne’s white-knuckle shootouts, or would it be much more methodical, taking into the consideration Alan’s status as an author, not a hardboiled cop? Actually it turns out that it is a bit of both, and Alan Wake is definitely much more methodical than Max Payne.