by Keaton Arksey
reviewed on X360
Much of the same
American Nightmare only features three locations, each visited three times over the course of the story. Remedy gives the backtracking a reason story wise, and you do different things when you return to the same locations, but it does begin to wear thin by the end. Unlike the Washington-state forests of the first game, American Nightmare moves the events to a town in Arizona, with lots of red and brown. While there are some NPCs to speak with, but they only act as quest givers and there are no daytime sections where Alan Wake can explore unmolested.
The main story is not particularly long, though for fifteen dollars at the same quality as the original, that is understandable. Taking about five hours or so, depending on how much one explores, there is not much reason to go back for once the story is finished. There are 53 manuscript pages, containing two paragraphs or so that serve to foreshadow events or give some back-story to find, but they are not particularly hard to find.
The big addition is “Fight till Dawn” mode, a Horde-arcade like mode in which Wake must survive ten minutes until dawn, fighting off continuous waves of Taken and earning points for kills. Getting kills raises a score multiplier, which reverts to one if an enemy hits Alan. It does not add anything new to the now standard Firefight/Horde/Survival gametype, but it does add some legs to the game and provides a competitive leaderboard to compare scores. With no story elements, those who did not enjoy the gameplay will not find anything here to redeem it, but it does make sense in the Alan Wake framework and adds some longevity.
The game visually is pretty much the same. It does not look bad by any means, but issues like lip-synching return. The cut scenes, some of which are in full motion video, do a good job of exhibiting the dark atmosphere. While Alan Wake has visually aged, it still holds up fairly well, and runs with no performance issues or slowdown even when the screen becomes busy with action. The voice acting for Alan Wake and the rest of the returning cast continues to hold the high standard of the original, but some of the new character’s voice acting comes off a bit flat. The licensed soundtrack is also appropriate for the circumstances. Finnish rock band Poets of the Fall return, providing both a song from their upcoming album (delightfully used in a scene with Mr. Scratch) as well as performing as the Old Gods of Asgard, the fictional band introduced in the first game. Aside from some flat voice acting, the audio in American Nightmare is superb.
Ultimately, American Nightmare serves as a good entry point for those new to Alan Wake. Previous fans will be happy to have Mr. Wake’s story continued, even if briefly, and those who are interested get a nice taste of what the series is about, even though it is more action oriented. The addition of the “Fight Till Dawn” mode means there is still something to do once the story is finished, and the high production values make it worth the money. For Alan Wake fans, the future has never looked brighter.
Solid story, high production values, and a new 'Fight Till Dawn' mode provides longevity.
Some flat voice acting, backtracking and repeated actions become a bit tiresome by the end.