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So I got to play the first episode of Alan Wake the other day. This one's been coming for round about forever - the last major game by these developers was Max Payne 2 (great good fun, that one). It was on XBox, but we'll forgive that because it was so much fun!
This game is a supernatural thriller, and sets some of the best atmosphere I've seen in a game. It has some amazing looking light and shadow effects, which is used to great effect as a gameplay mechanic: you use your torch to "burn" the darkness away from your supernatural foes, rendering them vunerable to your bullets. The sound is also excellent (you'd hope so in a "psychological thriller"), and the voice acting is top-notch. All the little details add up to make it an immersive and entertaining experience.
I found the first episode very tense in parts, so they've done their job properly. Starting off in a twilight-zone weird dream senquence, we get a little normalcy as a scene-setter to end up creeping through a darkened forest toward the safety of a petrol station's lights, pursued by a ghostly axe-wielding maniac.
The gameplay was not all that challenging on normal; I'd play on hard in future. Multiple enemies attack with little warning at several stages in this episode, creating some tense fight scenes. It helps that Alan is no typical computer game superman; his aim with a pistol is wobbly, and he runs out of breath quickly while running. The cutscenes are very well executed and voice-acted, although the in-game characters' faces were a wee bit plastic. Remedy, go talk to Valve or Rockstar about animating faces properly!
I can't wait to play this game on the PC. The developers announced that this was cancelled a couple of months ago, though I'm betting that they'll release it for PC in a year or so (after all that lovely console money has been milked). Here's hoping!
Concluding remarks: effing good fun, especially played in a dark room with the sound up!