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Alan Wake’s American Nightmare Review: Homegrown Fear

by phnk

posted March 1, 2012 @ 12:11AM
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filed under Games

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Despite high reviews and praise from gamers everywhere, Alan Wake failed to light up the sales charts. Unfortunately, Alan Wake’s ending left many questions unanswered and fans all but gave up on a sequel ever being released to answer those questions. Imagine their surprise that not only was an Alan Wake sequel coming, but it was an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive at that. Does Alan Wake: American Nightmare, despite being a digital release, stand up to its predecessor?

In Alan Wake: American Nightmare, Alan is transported through his television to the setting of popular series Night Springs; many fans will remember Night Springs from the original Alan Wake as the show being broadcast on televisions found throughout the environment. Here, Alan must face off against his evil doppelganger, the man known only as Mr. Scratch. Unfortunately, the story in American Nightmare doesn’t answer many of the questions fans hoped it would while adding more questions of its own. If you’re coming into American Nightmare expecting a story on par with the original Alan Wake, prepare to be disappointed.

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Luckily, the combat system is as good as it ever was, using the tried but true tactic of a flashlight combined with firearms to destroy the returning Taken adversaries. American Nightmare is less about horror and more about action in this regard; Alan will encounter some impressive weaponry early on as the game becomes less about running and more about fighting back. Alan will need all the help he can get as American Nightmare features many new enemy types, correcting one of the main flaws of Alan Wake: a limited number of enemy types. American Nightmare’s story mode is roughly 3/4 of the size of the original Alan Wake, packing in a lot of content for only a fraction of the cost of the original game. In addition, American Nightmare features a decent amount of collectibles, encouraging replayability.

Once the story mode is complete, the new Fight Til Dawn mode is sure to keep you playing for quite a bit longer. This mode is very similar to the Horde mode found in the Gears of War series but with a twist; rather than fight through waves of enemies, you must simply survive for ten minutes against an unrelenting force of Taken. Depending on the difficulty you select, this is harder than it sounds. Fight Til Dawn features a decent number of maps but sadly, no multiplayer of any sort. This is a shame because this mode is begging for another player. As it stands, Fight Til Dawn is still plenty of fun by yourself.

When fans first heard about American Nightmare being a digital title, many felt that the game would have to make graphic cuts in order to keep the download size small. However, those fears are put to rest as the graphics in American Nightmare are on par with the original Alan Wake. No corners were cut and American Nightmare is as much of a graphical feast on the eyes as any other new release.

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While the sound and music of American Nightmare does a good job at setting the tone, much of it is forgettable; there aren’t any tunes you’ll be humming to yourself once the game has ended. Many of the voice actors from the original game, including Alan himself, return for the sequel, giving the same professional performances fans have come to expect.

American Nightmare is definitely a worthy sequel to Alan Wake, and the fact that it’s 1/4 the price of the original game doesn’t hurt either. Fans of the series will enjoy the game and, while newcomers will definitely not grasp the game’s story, they will certainly enjoy the action, making American Nightmare a highly recommended title. 

 

Recommendation: Purchase

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