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Thursday | August 16, 2018
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Alan Wake Preview (PC & X360)

Alan Wake Preview (PC & X360)


Alan Wake has been one of the most anticipated games in years and we managed to spend some time with code from developer Remedy to see how the game has been shaping up.

Our time with the demo begins with a video reel much like you would see on a syndicated tv show – we are presented with a ‘last time on Alan Wake’ to set the mood. It is clear that the characterisations and personalities of the individual people are going to be key to the overall experience.

Remedy always have been focused on creating atmospheric games with a strong emphasis on the narrative and Alan Wake fits perfectly in with this strategy. You generally can’t free roam around the environments like you would in Grand Theft Auto, but the sense of storytelling and mood setting dialogue is second to none.

Alan Wake is a writer and we get introduced to his agent Barry Wheeler, a character who sounds like he would fit perfectly into a british soap opera. We then leave our log cabin in the forest and head into the mysterious woods beyond.

The darkness is not our friend and it is important at this stage to start using flares to light up the surroundings. The lighting effects are really quite stunning with a strong sense of an ambient world around us – this is further enhanced by the incredible depth of the sound staging. The area around Alan Wake comes into view, seeped in smoke as it emits from the flare – the graphics and engine are not just used to push new hardware, they are tied into creating an immersive and realistic world, you really feel as if you are in the shoes of Alan as you progress. Nightmarish monsters stumble from the darkness, homing onto your lifeforce and only the light weakens them enough to be damaged by the bullets of your weapon. There is a sense of tension that we must get out of this area into a safer location and never before has a flashlight been used so effectively as a tool to not only see your path ahead but as a weapon. This is a battle against the evil forces of darkness. If you turn off the lights Alan will comment on his situation, you can almost feel his heart beat increase as he starts to panic. All these little touches really create a sense of hopelessness and being trapped in a surreal fantasy world … the makings of a bad dream.

Stunningly there are no loading sequences between the sections and it all gels into a series of events and cut scenes which flow smoothly. Once we get out of the forest and down long winding paths, entering a cable car then over a valley we end up in a car and drive along a cliff side road overlooking the water. We finally reach our incredible face off against a tornado which annihilates everything on the ground in its path.

The graphics at this point of the game development are extremely impressive, especially considering the game has been in development for the guts of five years which can sometimes lead to a disjointed end product. The facial animations and detail on the characters fully embodies them with life and even the lip synching is perfect, right down to the slight pauses in speech when he is talking to Barry. One thing we noticed was that Alan Wake is no superhero, he feels normal by his actions and struggles to perform some feats – this adds a really human touch to the character as you are immediately aware he is just an ordinary man.

Self Shadowing is used in abundance on all of the environment throughout which really helps to set the mood and create a subtle atmosphere for Alan Wake to explore. Particle effects and smoke are also used very effectively with explosions carrying a depth of weight to them which never fail to impress.

So far the Alan Wake experience is looking to be very impressive and we can’t wait to get our hands on the final retail version because we have a feeling this will be one of the games of the year. The attention to detail and the stunning way everything is all connected and implemented means this is like nothing we have seen before. It really looks to be that good.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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