GSY PREVIEW | X360 Wednesday, March 3, 2010 | 10:07 PM

Gamersyde Preview: Alan Wake

Gamersyde Preview: Alan Wake

It's 7pm, Wednesday February 24th at the gates of Paris, the scenery is in diametric contradiction to the idyllic town of Bright Falls. However, it's there that we had the chance to try the long-waited Alan Wake and to discuss it with the developers. An exceptional evening for an exceptional game.



For the few people who haven't heard about Alan Wake, it's important to remind that it was one of the first next-gen game announced, five years ago. The first screenshots made quite a splash, then we had no news until last year E3 Microsoft conference where we were shown a pretty average looking gameplay demo. Consequently it's with high hopes (it's a Remedy game after all !), but with a little bit of fear too, that we started to play the game.

No more suspense, Alan Wake astonished us from its production to the atmosphere that's been created, but above and beyond all, its technical mastery. Remedy used to be known for its top-notch rendering engines, and they prove again they are worthy of their fame. To be clear, none of the existing Xbox 360 games even compares to it, and even on PS3, which have more real exclusive titles, it's hard to find an equivalent. Killzone 2, Uncharted 2, Crysis, these are the few games which can compete with it. Whether it's the real-time projected shadows produced by the essential flashlight (those were obviously missing in Condemned 1 & 2), the total absence of aliasing (720p 4x FSAA), the breathtaking realistic lighting effects, the huge size of certain levels, SSAO, the atmospheric effects, the humongous size of some moving objects, the vegetation which interacts with characters and wind, or the largely satisfying framerate (with a light tearing that should disappear in the retail version) and many other physical and graphical effects, Alan Wake never ceases to amaze you with relative ease.



This technical mastery leaves us deploring Microsoft's choice not to favor more real exclusive titles for its console, as it shows how powerful the Xbox 360 is and how poor multiplatforms engines can be. But let's stop moaning and let's appreciate this one as it's not only a technical performance but it also comes with an excellent production.

The first 90 minutes, corresponding to the first "episode" of the game, that we played successfully switched between action sequences during the night and daylight exploration. The developers have chosen to deliver a maximum of in-game information through some conversations, instead of systematically interrupting the game with cutscenes (although there are some when needed), and this choice seems to be totally relevant. Alan is simultaneously the main character and the narrator of this adventure, this seems again to be absolutely logical.



The first episode directly begins with a nighttime scene, which is in fact the tutorial of the game where the player can learn all the controls. This sequence is already amazing as the hero tries to escape from a twister destroying huge parts of the scenery. This sequence is interrupted by the voice of Alan's wife, Alice. She wakes him up as they are arriving in Bright Falls by boat. Was it a dream? A premonition? That's what we will discover later on in the game. The arrival at Bright Falls gives the opportunity to admire this magnificent small town and to discuss with Alice and a passenger on the boat, and then to visit a typically American restaurant in order to retrieve the keys of the villa you've rented to spend your vacation. In the restaurant you'll meet some of the local citizens and you'll learn more about Alan Wake's notoriety, which seems to be about as big as Stephen King's. Once in possession of the keys, after an enigmatic meeting, a beautiful cinematic sequence brings us to the villa, where we discover that Alice is terrorized by the dark, a detail that will be very important in the storyline.

After some unclear events, Alice disappears and Alan wakes up at night after a car crash, 7 days later, without any memory of what has happened since his wife disappeared. What happens during that time is obviously essential to the central part of the scenario. In fact, Alan discovers some pages from a manuscript that he has supposedly written even though he doesn't remember writing them and these manuscript entries unequivocally describe his currently situation. These pages are scattered all along the game and are more or less hidden. The last part of this episode is a mix of action and exploration, which ends in a thundering scene at the top of a dam.



Concerning the gameplay, we have to face the fact that it's quite classic in design yet quite riskless in return. The action sequences look like any TPS shooter, with a shoulder-level aim and free movements which allow you to shoot while avoiding enemies attacks. The flashlight is of course very important as it helps for aiming, but it also weakens the enemies by taking away the darkness that inhabits them and protects them from bullets. In tighter situations, you can even use distress flares, which will result in some superb lighting and slow-motion effects. Dazzling, in every sense of the word. Controls are responsive enough to let you manage stressful situations (we've seen a sequence where the hero, helped by two other characters, have to resist a massive wave of enemies while waiting for an elevator, a typical survival-horror scene that you have come to expect in games such as Resident Evil or Left 4 Dead) and a dodge button (the same as the Run one) is set to limit virile contacts against enemies or elements from the scenery. The slight inertia of the character and some stiff animations could annoy the nitpicky gamers, but exploration and action sequences quickly become comfortable and captivating. One question remains: will the adventure deliver enough variety to keep the player interested until the end? Considering the excellent narrative and the incredible atmosphere of the game, no doubt that it should keep you interested until the ending, said to be worthy of the best TV shows (according to the developers).



Conclusion


It's hard not to enthuse after this first episode of Alan Wake. There still are some drawbacks, like the stiff animations or the rendering of faces when in close-up, but Remedy has proved once again that their technical mastery, and most of all, their capacity to create a deep atmosphere with a perfect narrative. Hopefully a game which, unless a huge down turn in the rhythm of the following episodes, will captivate us as soon as May 21st.
For now, check out our Oskari Häkkinen interview, featuring the voices of our good friend Spawn from xbox-mag and of course, Driftwood.

Preview: Interview
Download: WMV | MP4 | AVI

All comments

Page 1 2 >>
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:18:13

here still are some drawbacks, like the stiff animations
see, i'm not crazy, the game DOES have stiff animations.

still can't wait for it tho. this and conviction are gonna kick ass....well, i hope so.
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:21:35
What does stiff animations means?

Like what exactly does or how it looks? because fro what I have seen teh animatios of Alan are amazing and very detailed.
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:23:04
Man this game will own!! AW FTW!!
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:26:29 In reply to IRAIPT0IR
Posted by IRAIPT0IR
What does stiff animations means?

Like what exactly does or how it looks? because fro what I have seen teh animatios of Alan are amazing and very detailed.
it's a pretty self explanitory statement...the animations....are stiff...ie, not natural/smooth.
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:31:57 In reply to KORNdog
Posted by KORNdog
it's a pretty self explanitory statement...the animations....are stiff...ie, not natural/smooth.
Well yeah,what I want to know or maybe I dont but just I don't see it thats all,thats why its confusing to me.
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:34:44 In reply to KORNdog
It's not that bad really, but compared to the rest, it is a bit disappointing. Talk about nitpicky gamers. ^^
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:34:50 In reply to IRAIPT0IR
Posted by IRAIPT0IR
What does stiff animations means?

Like what exactly does or how it looks? because fro what I have seen teh animatios of Alan are amazing and very detailed.
Yes they do look very good, but when the rest looks exceptional then things that lag behind a little will look more out of place.
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:38:55
Well I don't need a Bayonetta level of animation here so its no problem at all to me like I said I dont even see it for me everything looks polished as hell and fantastic.

Edit:

I have a question for you guys that played it,how linear its the game?

Like I dont mind a linear game but did you explored a little bit?
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:52:45 In reply to IRAIPT0IR
It's very difficult to say much about the linearity of the whole game. We only got to play the very beginning of the game, so it's quite normal there was not a lot of room for alternate paths and exploration. Don't expect to be free to wander around just everywhere, but, as Oskari Häkkinen said (check out the interview), although this is not a sandbox game, there is still some level of freedom in the game.
Commented on 2010-03-03 22:55:52 In reply to Driftwood
Yeah I was in fact watching it when I made the post and after I clicked post he started to say that your path will be wide wnough so you can pretty much be able to explore and find stuff.

Thats awesome and what I needed to know thanks Drift.
Commented on 2010-03-03 23:14:18
The best thing about the interactivity, is that the game isn't gonna creep the uncanny valley shithole the fish mouth lip-synch like heavy rain people had. Its gonna have tailored animation to key NPCs, that still arent incorporated in the game and only recently they completed (only the facial mo-cap... the other is other business all together). Till now it still rellied on a "emo" pre-banked generator:

http://www.gameblog.fr/images/jeux/337/AlanWake_Ma...

Now its gonna be this awesome:

http://xcastonline.com/index.php/News/fact-alan-wa...
Posted by Driftwood
Don't expect to be free to wander around just everywhere, but, as Oskari Häkkinen said (check out the interview), although this is not a sandbox game, there is still some level of freedom in the game.
Just the fact that there is a town and this is a Sandbox engine, it's probably like Silent hill and the city map scenes... all streets cut-off for game and narattive reasons. It's nice it let us walkabout in a sense of freedom, just people shouldn't expect it to be a real... You can get to where you sight can see.
Commented on 2010-03-03 23:22:05
this games my most wanted of the year.. i really hope they nail the atmosphere, and the storys there
Commented on 2010-03-03 23:26:00 In reply to bleachedsmiles
Posted by bleachedsmiles
this games my most wanted of the year.. i really hope they nail the atmosphere, and the storys there
Only by the preview videos Im 100% sure of that,best atmosphere in any game to date.
Commented on 2010-03-03 23:46:20
the only thing i'm concerned about with it will be it's length.. for something thats only offering single player, and no doubt only one unchanging story, i expect no less than 10hours worth of gameplay...how many chapters are in the game? i'm sure i heard that theres only 4?..with the first taking between 60-90mins depending on who's hands on you read, this offers the possibility of the game only being around 6hours?

I'd be annoyed if we get a short game and then dlc chapters for it before the years out. I know that they've atleast assured us we're getting a story with a begining, middle, and an end, for our 7yr wait..i just hope it's as full and entertaining as it is pretty
Commented on 2010-03-03 23:50:02
Ill be front row when it drops.
Commented on 2010-03-03 23:57:42 In reply to bleachedsmiles
Posted by bleachedsmiles
the only thing i'm concerned about with it will be it's length.. for something thats only offering single player, and no doubt only one unchanging story, i expect no less than 10hours worth of gameplay...how many chapters are in the game? i'm sure i heard that theres only 4?..with the first taking between 60-90mins depending on who's hands on you read, this offers the possibility of the game only being around 6hours?

I'd be annoyed if we get a short game and then dlc chapters for it before the years out. I know that they've atleast assured us we're getting a story with a begining, middle, and an end, for our 7yr wait..i just hope it's as full and entertaining as it is pretty
" The most important. The durability of Alan Wake. I read a interview today where a invited ask to Oskary Hakkinen about this topic and.....Remedy is surprissed about people thinks that its about 8-10 hours. Remedy cant said nothing concrete, but Oskary confirm its superior. The first episode endure about 1 or 2 hours. And there are too many episodes. I think this is a fantastic notice. "the history is extensive, complete and nothing precipitate", said Oskary."

Thats a comment someone posted in the AW official forums from an interview,dont worry I expect at least some 12-15 hours.

Source
http://forum.alanwake.com/showpost.php?p=61413&pos...
Commented on 2010-03-04 00:14:20
thats good to know.... you can't have to much of, what i hope, will be a good thing.

Now comes the hard part - total media blackout from it. Was almost impossible to do with ME2..have a feelin this will take it up a notch
Commented on 2010-03-04 01:24:57
So the game basically looks just like the screenshots in terms of how sharp and clean it looks?
Commented on 2010-03-04 03:53:14
This game has nice graphics for sure. I like the engine and lightning and have also seen first 15-20 min in youtube. But the preview seems to be talking how cool it is going to be rather than game and its graphics :p
Commented on 2010-03-04 04:28:17
I agree about being very confused as to why MS doesn't put up the dough for more true exclusives like this to show just how amazing it's graphics can be.

I have no idea why they haven't bought up more talent as Sony's exclusive list is really starting to pull away to quite a lead imo.

Anyhow, the game looks really interesting. Probably just a rental for me as it doesn't seem to offer much in terms of high replay, but it still looks like it's going to be a true classic for this generation. Guess we'll find out soon enough.
Commented on 2010-03-04 09:28:22
Could the game be as long as Resident Evil 4?

I don't expect 3rd person shooters, especially with graphics as amazing as these, to be such a long game, but if they made it like 15 hours long, that'd be mindlblowingly awesome. I'm not sure if the gameplay looks too simple, or there just are much fewer enemies than in a Max Payne.
Commented on 2010-03-04 09:28:30
from what i have seen the surrounding terran looks great, but the character models look beyond crap, whish there was more feeling in the charcaters movement and look, shame this is not coming to the pc, ah well i still can play splinter cell
Commented on 2010-03-04 09:49:34
Great and informative interview, Spawn!
Commented on 2010-03-04 12:45:01
Nice preview guys.

Personally I dont get why this game is such a hype machine, it looks decent but at the begining ( like few years ago lol ) I was expecting something totally different in the terms of gameplay. Massive waves of enemies etc...oh come on how original. I'd rather play Fahrenheit/Heavy Rain type of game without tons of QTEs.
Commented on 2010-03-04 13:01:21 In reply to digi_matrix
Hey, I asked questions too, and, except for Spawn's noticeable French accent that might add a lot of charm to his, mine were ok too. :'(
Page 1 2 >>

About the game


What's up?
  • amerakindesi
    amerakindesi @Tiz: halo 6 should incorporate all the halo species to date. Humans, covenant, brutes, flood, forerunner & also introduce a new species (1 Hour ago)
  • amerakindesi
    amerakindesi @Tiz: halo 5 was a disaster storywise. Only way they can fix halo 6 is to drop that other spartan and focus only on master chief (1 Hour ago)
  • amerakindesi
    amerakindesi @Tiz: i love the anniversary mockups. For the true fans to enjoy the classics with a modern feel. (1 Hour ago)
  • Tiz
    Tiz Anyway, it's early days. The next time we hear about Halo after Halo Wars 2 will be E3, and it will either be H3: Anniversary or a Halo 6 trailer and my money is on H3: A. (4 Hours ago)
  • Tiz
    Tiz The H6 campaign I meant. (4 Hours ago)
  • Tiz
    Tiz @amerakindesi: I liked 4's campaign as well, 5 was a massive misstep and while Joe isn't necessary for the H5 campaign to be good, I think he is necessary for it to be epic. (4 Hours ago)
  • amerakindesi
    amerakindesi To be frank though I loved halo 1, halo 2, halo 3, halo 4 campaigns in that order. 4 was my fav. (4 Hours ago)
PreviousNext
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood GSY is getting some nice content at 3 pm CEST with our July podcast and some videos of the Deus Ex Mankind Divided preview build. :) (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood For once we'll be live at 4:30 pm CEST. Blim should not even be tired! (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood More Quantum Break coverage coming in a few hours, 9:00 a.m CEST. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood We'll have a full review up for Firewatch at 7 pm CET. Videos will only be tomorrow though. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood Tonight's livestream will be at 9:15 GMT+1, not GMT+2 as first stated. (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood New GSY Live dedicated this time to Just Cause 3 on Tuesday 9:30 GMT+2 (> 3 Months ago)
  • Driftwood
    Driftwood Join us tomorrow at 10 pm GMT+2 for a new livestream. We'll be playing Rise of the Tomb Raider. (> 3 Months ago)
PreviousNext
Top stories