A nice addendum to the original storyline, but set your expectations around size/content accordingly for an XBLA title.

User Rating: 7.5 | Alan Wake's American Nightmare X360
The original Alan Wake was a title I eagerly awaited for many years. What I got was a bit off the mark from the originally promised "GTA style open world horror title" but I found it to be a solid entry nonetheless. What it lacked in exploration and puzzle solving it made up for with an excellent story and some of the most immersive and detailed environments I'd ever seen in a horror title who's large scale hinted at plans for a much less linear game and hinted at what might have been. The biggest complaint I had about the first Alan Wake was that it had far too much action for a horror title. If a monster jumps out at you when you least expect it, that's scary. When monsters are constantly hounding you at every turn, that's just harassment. While that can be stressful, it's not really scary.

So when I heard that the latest Alan Wake title had a greater emphasis on action than the previous title I was less than enthusiastic. Remedy also insisted that this is not a sequel which also made my hopes sink. Still, I picked it up like the good little obsessive compulsive that I am and played through the campaign in a couple nights.

The art style is basically the same, although with a more colorful palette and lighting effects which does give the game less of a Twin Peaks feel than before. The combat mechanics are essentially unchanged save for a few minor tweaks. With the greater emphasis on action, ammo is plentiful. You'll find it all over as well as respawning ammo cabinets on the minimap.

Your flashlight recharges stupidly fast now, but no longer removes darkness at all when unfocused. Flares and flashbangs are not as powerful as they were before, but the game is still easier overall. In the first game you had to conserve ammo very carefully and I'd often find myself using a more powerful gun than I wanted to dispatch weak enemies simply because I'd run out of handgun bullets or trying to lure Taken into areas of light where they would be instantly killed so I wouldn't have to shoot them. Here, I find myself hoarding ammo just like before but not really needing to. I beat the game with a friggin' arsenal left over because I kept expecting the -next- battle to be much harder, but that tough encounter never really came.

I'm not claiming to be an Alan Wake expert, but I've beaten the first three times including once on Nightmare difficulty so I know the mechanics. I made it through the first 2/3rds of American Nightmare without having taken any real damage and I never died, so if you're a veteran of the series you'll probably find this pretty easy. Also the campaign has no difficulty selection so you're stuck on "average".

I'm not going to spoil any of the story, but like the two DLCs for the first game it is not a bad bit of extra epilogue. Voice acting is solid from the main and returning characters but some of the new characters are pretty amateurish. This is a shame because I considered the voice acting to be one of the first game's strengths (sure Barry was annoying, but he's an annoying character so that means the voice actor actually didn't do a bad job). The doctor at the observatory is particularly wooden in her delivery.

Manuscript pages make a welcome return, but unlike in 1 you won't be scouring the map to find them. Even sticking to a relatively linear path you'll get most of them without even trying particularly hard.

Still, if you're looking for a full sequel you aren't going find here. Just pick this up for the low price as an appetizer while we wait for a proper new title. I don't feel ripped off by this game, but think of it as the "third DLC for Alan Wake".

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