Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

Set for release this week, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare follows the franchise debut in being exclusive to Microsoft Studios’ home console. The difference in delivery lies within the packaging; more specifically, that Alan Wake’s American Nightmare has none. A digital-only release that offers an extension […]
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Set for release this week, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare follows the franchise debut in being exclusive to Microsoft Studios’ home console. The difference in delivery lies within the packaging; more specifically, that Alan Wake’s American Nightmare has none. A digital-only release that offers an extension of the series as opposed to a direct sequel, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a surprisingly well constructed Alan Wake experience.

The closest comparison to Alan Wake’s American Nightmare in terms of delivery would be that of Dead Rising 2: Case ZERO, however the contents are remarkably different. While Capcom’s inventive digital product lead in to Dead Rising 2 is a commendable manner, it was effectively a downloadable content (DLC) package that didn’t rElectronic Theatre Imageequire a retail disc. Though Alan Wake’s American Nightmare’s could arguably have been launched as an expansion to Alan Wake, it does present a more rounded product, with its own self contained story and an additional gameplay mode.

The story in Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is divided into chapters, though the layer of episodic delivery (the catch-up at the start of each episode etc.) is no longer present. The Night Springs series of Wake’s devise is the basis for Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, rather than one of his novels as in the original title, and is clearly Remedy’s attempt to create their own The Twilight Zone. The similarities to the 1950’s television series are so forceful that it can be quite jarring at times, especially given the narrator’s obvious instructions to mimic that of Rod Serling’s delivery.

Right from the start, anyone who’s ever played Alan Wake will feel right at home with Alan Wake’s American Nightmare. The same protagonist, the same torch/firearm attack mechanic and the same control Electronic Theatre Imagesystem, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is for all intents and purposes another chapter of the Alan Wake saga. Taking place across a number of wide levels, themed around the typical middle America locales, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare harks back to that original open world design of Alan Wake that was removed before the final build. There’s much more freedom to explore than in the original videogame, and much more to be discovered upon a small amount of searching, rewarding players for their attention to detail.

Much like Alan Wake, the tasks in Alan Wake’s American Nightmare typically involve reaching a destination and flipping a switch or finding an object, holding your ground against a number of enemies or poltergeist controlled objects. The difference here is that these objectives now have the player criss-crossing across the layout of the level rather than simply following a linear path, and so Remedy was keenly aware of this new level Electronic Theatre Imageof freedom, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare revels in the ability to throw multiple objectives at the player at once and let them choose the order in which they should tackle them.

The secondary gameplay mode present in Alan Wake’s American Nightmare known as Arcade Action. Effectively a survival mode, the now traditional rules of facing waves of increasing difficulty and numerous enemies with ammo restocks available anew at each new wave all play their part. Arcade Action offers ten different maps to play across with the ultimate goal of attaining the maximum rating of three stars. Earning stars will unlock the next map on the list until all are available. It’s a pleasant addition to the Alan Wake formula, but not one which is about to rock to boat.

Technically speaking, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare does exceed the quality of the original release. Minor touches here and there – improvements in cloth animation, draw distance and lighting – showcase a greater attention to detail in the visual design, and although the narrator’s Electronic Theatre Imagedelivery my cut a bit too close to the bone, there’s no denying the quality of the voice recording and playback is fantastic.

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a perfectly welcome addition to both the Xbox LIVE Arcade line-up and the Alan Wake series. Shockingly, this bite-sized approach appears to suit the agenda of Remedy’s newest franchise far greater than a prolonged retail release, but even so Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is of a reasonable length in its own right. It’s a familiar experience in a new packaging that is so unquestionably modern that Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is setting some of the rules for itself, and in doing so has quickly become a leader in the field of digitally distributed console adventure videogames.

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