Review of Alan Wake’s American Nightmare for Xbox Live Arcade

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is the Xbox exclusive title that is a spin off follow-up to the original Alan Wake. It manages to fit neatly inside the realm of cannon while not limiting the series further, and for an XBLA title it’s pretty awesome. But awesome enough for fifteen dollars? Read on to find out!

Story: Alan Wake is once again plopped into a dark nightmare, this time by no other than his evil shadow twin Mr. Scratch. Even better, the nightmare is a looping scenario that goes on and on for Alan while Scratch is out in the real world ruining Wake’s reputation. A solid story that is made even better by the numerous TVs scattered throughout the game that show snippets of the dark doppleganger in the real world.

Sound: Poets of the Fall does the main theme for the game, “Balance Slays the Demon”. But needless to say, there are a LOT of other awesome heavy rock ‘n roll tracks in the game (ex: Kasabian has a song in-game). The music is awesome on its own (easily worth Youtubing on your own time) but when it plays in-game, all is perfect. Heavy rock is present when you’re blasting down hordes of enemies with a pump-action shotgun or running down a hill from an exploding sattelite crash. And it feels epic. The voice acting is nice too, although Alan Wake andMr. Scratch are the only characters I really enjoyed. Sound: 10/10

Presentation: Before I get into the amazing graphics, I want to mention that the story is presented impressively. It reuses the same three settings three times each for the entire game, while managing to stay entertaining every time around and tie in a story-related cause (keeping it under the XBLA download size limit). An impressive tactic that so far only developer Remedy studios has been able to pull off effectively. As far as graphics go, up there with the best Xbox 360 has to offer no doubt. It rivals SWTFUII, and that’s saying something. Presentation: 10/10

Gameplay: If third person action with a flashlight, loads of guns and lots of freaky enemies sounds good, that’s because it is. Alan Wake’s gameplay is completely centered around flashing and bashing (heh). You have to first remove the darkness shield on enemies with your Energizer flashlight, then follow up with a few gun shots. It sounds simple and is in the beginning, but it evolves as the game progresses and things get hard. Loads of new enemies have been introduced since the original game, including (but not limited to) giant chainsaw wielding hillbillies and darkness grenadiers. It definitely adds variety and forces you to play with strategic positioning, but really shows off the new guns as well. Being trapped in a corner is no longer the bane of Wake’s existance as he now has wicked awesome guns to clear entire hordes with like the SMG or my favorite, the combat shotgun. That combat shotgun wipes out as many enemies as you can flashlight at, no questions asked. Aside from running and gunning, there’s also a bit of an open world aspect to the game, being pretty big and explorable, good for the manuscript page searching. Gameplay: 10/10

Pancakes AND darkness monsters make for a good breakfast combo at the local diner

Multiplayer: N/A

Length: The story mode is five hours on its own. The arcade mode (ten minute survival horde mode) is fun and has a few neat unlockables, adding another hour onto that five. Then the compulsive collector inside each of you will want to go back and find all the manuscript pages, adding in another five hour runthrough of the awesome story mode. Needless to say, this downloadable title is crammed with content. My only possible gripe is that (fanboys are gonna burst when I say this) there should’ve been multiplayer for arcade mode! The game could’ve fit that into the download size (it had .66GB before it hit the 2GB max) and it would’ve made arcade mode something way more fun to come back to. Length: 9.5/10

Overall: Alan Wake’s American Nightmare gets a proud 9.9/10. If it had just one more ounce of content, it would’ve touched the big ten-0. But don’t let that detract you from getting this epic XBLA game. It’s definitely the best exclusive title Xbox 360 has to offer, and when you buy this game you’ll see why.

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