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E3 2009: Alan Wake eyes-on impressions

It's been a long wait to see what Alan Wake has been doing with himself. The writer first appeared to us in the press at E3 2005 in the game of the same name. That demo, at the ATI booth, has been the only live demonstration shown to the public . . . until this week, that is. Now four years later we got to see yet another live demo of the game (this time at publisher Microsoft's booth) and we think that the four year wait might actually be worth it.

Developer Remedy wanted to mess with the heads of gamers as Alan Wake has to deal with the fact that his supernatual-themed book is coming to life all around him in a Pacific Northwest town. He also has to deal with the kidnapping of his wife Alice by folks who want the manuscript for this new novel. The only problem? Alan doesn't even remember writing anything about it.

The majority of the 20 minute live demo version we got to see had Alan exploring the woods in an effort to find local law enforcement and try to save his wife. Unfortunately he has to deal with the forces of darkness. In this case we mean that literally as Alan fights off apparitions and even machines that are powerful under the cloak of darkness.

That means Alan has to use light as a weapon. Having a flashlight is handy for stunning creatures and allowing them to be shot by normal weapons. An even powerful item is a outdoor flare that is super bright and can basically wipe out a score of the smoky, etheral . . . things that can throw axes at you.

Alan even has to deal with machines that come to life, including a massive front loader crashing into a cabin and a ditch digger. It's actually a little funny to see our protagonist have to deal with these kinds of threats. However those threats are very real and deadly to Alan who has to hope that his flashlight doesn't run out of battery power at the wrong time.

The graphics for Alan Wake are among the best we have seen for a game like this. Obviously light and shadow play a big part in the game and those elements are used very well in the visuals. Character and item models are very detailed and the overall dark and foreboading mood that's needed in this kind of action-adventure hybird is front and center here.

Our E3 2009 demo ended with Alan Wake driving to a lighthouse and, well, things are coming for him. The cliffhanger ending of our demo just made us want to head back and see what happens next. With Alan Wake coming next spring for the Xbox 360 (Remedy is not really talking about the PC version yet but we know it's coming) we at least have a ballpark date to shoot for.


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