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Surviving Alan Wake's American Nightmare


I'm pretty selfish. I know Alan deserves to be at home, sitting on the couch, watching reruns of Mad About You with his wife, but I prefer him on the front lines of the war against the forces of darkness. Who wants to play a game about a married couple being a boring married couple?

I loved the original Alan Wake, but doubted the writer would ever return after the original's underwhelming sales performance. But here we are, and even though Alan Wake's American Nightmare isn't the direct sequel I'll always hope for, my brief time with the game gives the impression that I won't be disappointed.

Gallery: Alan Wake's American Nightmare (12/19/2011) | 8 Photos

American Nightmare is an isolated experience, pitting Alan against Mr. Scratch, his evil doppelganger. The story is contained solely to American Nightmare -- it doesn't pick up directly after the first game's The Writer DLC. Alan has also ditched the tweed jacket for a pair of Wranglers and an uzi, apparently.

The demo opened with Alan's literary manager Barry laid out on a motel room bed. On the television at the foot of his bed, a logo for Night Springs, the fictional show written by Wake, flickers. The camera zooms into the old, grimy television set and suddenly we see Alan standing in the center of a dark road, surrounded by a Motel and a gas station.

Alan Wake's American Nightmare takes a hub world approach. From the darkened road, he ventures off into different areas to complete objectives and fight enemies. Remedy told me players should expect much more action this time around.

There are new allies to the forces of darkness here. Aside from the usual shadow-possessed henchmen, there's the new bird-guy-thing revealed in the announcement trailer, and a hulking, saw-wielding monstrosity in overalls. And it's not out of the ordinary for all of them to come at you at once.

Then there's Mitosis Man, easily my favorite new enemy. He splits in two each time he's hit with light, becoming weaker and weaker as he splits into more and more adversaries. I was unprepared for the tension of enemies swarming Alan -- with light seemingly of little use against Mighty Mity.

I didn't get much time with the actual campaign, but I was given ample time to try out the game's survival mode, in which Alan is thrust into a map to survive until dawn. As you kill enemies and remain untouched, your score multiplier increases. It's Horde, Alan Wake style, with a few light sources and supplies littered around for Alan to grab between each wave.

Combat felt largely unchanged from Alan Wake, save for a few new weapons to use. The crossbow came in handy, as it could pierce the darkness and damage enemies without the aid of the flashlight. There was also an uzi and nail gun to play around with, but I wasn't enamored of either. They're both fairly weak.

Remedy didn't give me much of a glimpse at the story of Alan Wake's American Nightmare, but my demo concluded with an extended clip of the FMV shown in the announcement trailer. Mr. Scratch is a brutal jester, a reflection of Alan's darkest side, and actor Ikka Villi's sly smile and sense of satisfaction as he kills some unknown man in a motel room was chilling to watch.

I can't wait to stop him.

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