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Review: Alan Wake (Xbox 360)

Alan Wake tries a new pick-up line

Instead of something really useful, like say a lightsaber or fiery sword, Alan’s main weapon to light his way is usually a flashlight. Yes, he literally carries the torch for the proud tradition of action heroes everywhere.

However, the flashlight does do damage to the creepy Taken, as it strips away their protective darkness once Alan shines on them for extended periods. Yes, these Taken are allergic to light. What’s more, squeezing the left trigger on your controller intensifies — well, boosts — the beam of light, which renders the regular Taken vulnerable in a jiffy.

Which lets you to proceed to show them the light by blasting them away the Hollywood way — with assorted weapons that can be found along the way, like pistols, shotguns, hunting rifles and flare guns.

However, note that boosting the torchlight drains the batteries, which are in short supply. And of course, ammo for the various guns scattered around the locations are also pretty limited.

So you have to snoop around for supply boxes, some out in the open and some well hidden, to stock up before running for the next checkpoint. Run out of ammo and batteries, and poor Alan will have to run and dodge attacks until he reaches a safe zone.

Open during an emergency. And yes, it’s an emergency now. Think out of the box, Alan!

Combat is pretty much from the school of “Shine Torchlight, Shoot Your Gun and Sling Pyrotechnics”. Pretty much like a rock concert, in fact.

Hint: You don’t always have to waste ammo on the Taken. Shoot at gas tanks lying on the ground, and the resulting explosion will have you shouting “C’mon Baby, Light My Fire!”. Or if the Taken have their backs against a nest of electrical livewires, shoot just once with a shotgun to have them flung backwards for an electrifying — and frying — time.

Note that the Taken come in various flavours, not unlike certain games where victims are left for dead or undead. Aside from the usual grunts wielding exes, there are the ‘tanks’, the chainsaw wielding ones that are tougher to kill, while there are the spooky ones that can dematerialise at will. And not surprisingly, they tend to gang up on poor Alan Wake, who’s often….taken…by surprise at their sudden appearance.

Some good news: There is an extra throwaway option for offensive weapons against the light-fearing Taken – handheld pyrotechnics like flashbangs and flares. These are especially useful when Alan is surrounded by the Taken and needs to take them out in a flash.

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