American Nightmare is the second game in the Wake series. Not the sequel most were hoping for but its not half bad.
If you remember from the first game, Barry Wheeler mentions that Alan Wake has written a episode for Night Springs, which was actually his first gig as a writer. You will also learn a little about Alan Wakes background, how he started out as a writer and how he got so famous and what led to is "party life style". The manuscripts are back and they provide some strong story points and also like I just mentioned some background on Alan.
You will see a few new faces along the way but to be honest none of these characters will be remembered and I really hope to never see them again. Its not that I really "hate" these new characters but they are just bland and boring and I just really could care less about them. I'll explain why I don't enjoy some of these characters in a bit.
The overall story in American Nightmare is interesting but it has nothing on the first game. It was a little disappointing because I'm a huge story-driven gamer and Alan Wake is one of my favorites. But American Nightmare just doesn't deliver like Alan Wake did. But don't get me wrong its far from a weak story. It will have you interested throughout and it provides a lot of info that fans of the first game would want cleared up for them. But it won't be remember for a epic tale. The ending was a bit confusing but if you pay attention it will make sense and provides a open road for a possible sequel.
Gameplay - The famous Light/Dark combat system is back and its better than ever in my opinion. With a huge arsenal of weapons with a few familiar ones like Flash-bangs and Flares. There is plenty of firepower to fight the Taken with. Some of the weapons include: Sawed-off shotgun, Assault Rifle, Flare gun and the Nail Gun which was freaking awesome to use. I had so much fun impaling enemies with a ton of nails. Point being is that there are a plenty of weapons and the variety between them all is nice and is a lot of fun to try each one. Of course a lot of the weapons are locked in cases and you need manuscript pages to obtain these weapons.
As far as the gamplay in general goes. It is much of the same from the first game, no real new mechanics or anything. But is that a bad thing? of course not, I loved the way the gameplay was and I still love it now, one of my favorites game mechanics of all time is the power of light Alan Wake wields. Like I said there isn't much new to be said about the gameplay, new weapons provide a fresh feel to things but the gameplay is as solid as ever.
There is also an extra game mode along with the campaign. Which is Arcade mode. What this is exactly is a survival mode but no multiplayer involved which is a little of a down side, because this would be a blast to play with friends. Nevertheless that does not mean its lame in any way. Its actually a ton of fun with plenty of different maps, weapons and also supports leader-boards which will provide some more replay value. Finding manuscript pages in single player will unlock more weapons in arcade mode. The longer you last without getting hit will increase your multiplier. Thing is, arcade mode is fun, and sometimes addictive. I found myself playing for hours after I finished the story mode. Would be a ton of fun to play this mode with friends but it was a smart choice not to include mutliplayer with a game like Alan Wake. Arcade mode is a lot of fun and is a great change of pace from the story telling experience Alan Wake is known for. With the campaign being only about 3-5 hours long. It was a good decision to include a fun new mode such as Arcade more. With that and some achievements to gather, you'll be wanting to keep this game around for a little while longer after the story.
Sound - American Nightmare may not get noticed for its soundtrack the way Alan Wake did but it is a goody. Especially a brand new song from "Old Gods of Asgard" called "Balance Slays the Demon" and it is a hot track. It has a nice old school rock 'n' roll sound to it. You can also purchase this song on iTunes or Amazon which I was very happy with. I purchased it the first night I heard it. The band of course if you didn't already know from the first game is "Poets of the Fall" which done a few songs for the first Alan Wake game and they were also amazing. In game they are known as "Old Gods of Asgard" of course just so I don't confuse anyone. As for the rest of the songs, they are pretty good but nothing you'll remember. To put it simple, the soundtrack isn't that great but its good enough to set the mood and go along nicely with the story scenes.
Now for the voice acting...I wasn't impressed with it. The only voice actor who pulled off a nice job, was Matthew Porretta aka Alan Wake. He is such an amazing voice actor and does a hell of a job narrating also. Its a shame he don't have more work because I consider him one of my all time favorite voice actors. Other than him, everyone else is either "okay" or just down right horrible. Especially the scientist lady, I almost couldn't stand listening to her. But thankfully there aren't too many new characters because the ones they showed I didn't care about and they just sounded "unconvincing".
Graphics - The game looks pretty similar to the first game. Very dark and creepy atmosphere. The game looks good. The animation could use a bit of work. It's not exactly super smooth and the jumping still feels and looks a bit awkward. The lip syncing is a little better than the first one but still could use some improvements. The facial animation in general are pretty good but nothing that will "wow" you, but honestly it wasn't a huge concern with me. It won't suck any of the fun out of this game. The fact remains. Alan Wake is a good looking game. The overall graphics are top notch but they won't blow you away neither will the animation. The environment it self felt and looked creepy but not as half as much as the first one did. The world is a descent size and has the look of an Alan Wake world. The textures are rich and just all around very nice.
Bottom Line: American Nightmare is not the sequel Alan Wake fans were hoping for and it won't win any awards. But it is fun, and every Alan Wake game should give it a try. It is short, only around 3-5 hours (depending on if you go after achievements and/or collectibles). The story is enough to keep you interested till the end but it has nothing on the first game. If your a fan of Alan Wake I recommend you download this ASAP.
Same great gameplay from the first game.
Tons of new weapons to play with.
Arcade mode is lots of fun.
Bad Voice Acting.
Same locations over and over get repetitive.