Written by Colby Thursday, 23 February 2012 17:00
As one of the few and proud who chose Alan Wake over Red Dead Redemption on that fateful day in May 2010, I was not disappointed by the focus on story, the living atmosphere, and the Lost meets Stephen King story. I have not had time to play the DLC that was added on to the fiction of the Alan Wake universe, but I did not let that stop me from diving into the downloadable title for the Xbox 360, "Alan Wake's American Nightmare."
American Nightmare: The Campaign
My first impression is that it seems like it would be quite a stretch to call this a sequel. After playing the first campaign level it didn't feel as if the story of the life was being advanced, but that this was more of just a shoot off that provided a short adventure that probably doesn't fit into the big picture of where the Alan Wake franchise goes, or at least where I hope it goes. Alan's wife and his agent Barry are both noticeably absent. The first level is little more than an extended campaign, but already the differences are noticeable. It's as if they changed almost every aspect and mechanic in some way. For instance, there is much more of a focus on action. You aren't being starved for ammo, in fact there's an ever replenishing ammo cabinet in the middle of the map. Apparently, Wake has also been doing conditioning drills, as he's now able to run significantly farther without getting winded and having to stop. The setting is different. Say goodbye to the forest of the Northwest, because now it's the desert of Arizona where you will be taking on the Taken. Finally, the collectibles have been streamlined. Coffee thermos' are completely gone and the manuscript pages are much easier to find. This is probably my personal favorite of the changes. Despite everything being different, it still feels the same. The game is fun to play and the story is as mind-bending as ever.
Introducing: Action Arcade Mode for American Nightmare
If Alan Wake's American Nightmare only contained the campaign it would feel extremely thin, even for a downloadable title. The addition of an arcade mode provides a huge boost in content. Arcade mode is most analogous to the combat rooms in the two latest Batman games. You use weapons laid throughout the level to take on wave after wave of Taken, building up a score multiplier by avoiding attacks and getting consecutive kills. The difference is that a time limit is attached to each run and once the timer is up you have survived until the dawn, the sun wipes out any remaining Taken, and your score is totaled. I thoroughly enjoyed the one map I played enough to play it over and over.
At this point I really haven't found anything negative to say about Alan Wake's American Nightmare, but if you're adamant about hearing if it has any faults at all, watch for my full review coming soon. Actually, just watch for my full review no matter what.