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Quantum Break delay photo
Quantum Break delay

Quantum Break slips to 2016

Time extend
Apr 02
// Jordan Devore
Max Payne and Alan Wake maker Remedy has delayed its next major game, Quantum Break. The third-person action title will now bring its slick time manipulation to Xbox One next year. "We thank our fans for their patience," said...
More Alan Wake plz photo
More Alan Wake plz

The Alan Wake franchise has sold 4.5 million units (so make another game already!)

You know you wanna
Mar 25
// Jordan Devore
According to Remedy CEO Matias Myllyrinne, who is "happy on behalf of the team," the Alan Wake franchise has sold more than 4.5 million units across Xbox 360 and PC to date. I can't hear numbers like that and not call for a s...
Demo with Sam Lake photo
'Intense story-driven action game spectacle,' barf
Have we even seen this much Quantum Break gameplay? The half television show, half videogame from the developers of Max Payne and Alan Wake is coming to Xbox One next year. Everything about this is hokey and trite, a Marvel ...

Quantum Break piqued my curiosity, but it still has a lot to prove

Aug 21 // Brett Makedonski
The majority of the challenge in Quantum Break will come in the form of third-person combat sequences. As Monarch unleashes an army of ground troops to deal with Joyce, he combines his newfound powers and good ol'-fashioned lead to fend off the threat. In the hands-off presentation that we saw, Joyce could freeze time in small pockets, effectively bringing a single enemy to a standstill. Turns out that soldiers aren't too difficult to dispose of when they literally can't fight back. Alternatively, Joyce could (presumably) speed up time around him, zooming from spot to spot, and bashing unaware guards into submission. There's an obvious concern here: Is the time-warping mechanic enough to sustain the humdrum that usually accompanies cover-based shooting? Although we really only saw one combat section, the fear is justified. Despite the fact that there are some more explosive elements sprinkled in (typically literal explosions) and some stylish kill cams, it has potential to turn into a rote affair if Remedy isn't careful with the variety and frequency of these sections. Although humans wielding guns are certainly a formidable and dangerous opponent, Joyce's battle against time is a more intriguing prospect. As a result of the experiment gone wrong, time will suddenly stutter, creating large sections where everything is frozen in place. It can come at any time like in the middle of a firefight, or as we saw in the demo, as a cargo ship was about to collide with a bridge. These stutters mark the second style of gameplay in Quantum Break, and they appear to be crafted to be action-puzzle sequences. Rightfully unpredictable as time fractures, people and items within these areas exhibit all sorts of different behavior as Joyce moves through the stutters. Bullets in mid-air that can be examined from a 360-degree view could suddenly pop to life without any warning, or other objects that are stuck in time-loops can serve as obstacles that need some well-timed platforming to clear. From the demo that we saw, Joyce needed to use his own powers to best these areas. As objects snapped to life, he'd freeze them or move them to create a path across the crumbling bridge. In the event that he was too slow, well, it probably would've resulted in a truck landing on his head. What the presentation didn't make apparent was how scripted these sections would be. Do you have a set amount of time to get through an area before the stutter passed and all hell broke loose? Or, would the events trigger upon reaching a certain point? Is there any room for creativity with how things are handled? Or, will it all be very guided, and lead to instant death if you don't play the exact way Quantum Break wants you to? These questions all hang over the game, and we won't really know what kind of beast Quantum Break is until they're answered. The stutters look fantastic to walk through and explore, and it's amazing to see the destruction frozen in place in a way that lets you inspect all the detail. But, whether they'll create unique and memorable experiences for each player, or are simply glorified, over-the-top set pieces remains to be seen. When initially introduced in 2013, Quantum Break was designed to meld the television and videogame mediums. During our presentation, creative director Sam Lake did a bit to outline the strategy for this. The videogame bit will focus on heroes, while the television part will center on the villains at Monarch. Actions in-game will supposedly affect the video series, and it sounds as if the two halves will seamlessly interweave at designated points throughout. While it's all shipping together on the same disc, it's unknown if the television parts are optional or mandatory watching. Any finer details surrounding the plot are also predictably unclear, as Remedy wasn't willing to discuss it at all. By the time that the half-hour demonstration was over, we had seen a lot, but maybe came away with more questions than answers. It's always aggravatingly cliché to say that a game has potential, but that's exactly what Quantum Break has. Potential to be a fine cinematic experience whose core mechanic leads to larger-than-life sequences. Potential to be the example that the videogame and television mediums can exist in blissful harmony. And, potential to be a linear, disjointed affair whose shoot-'em-up and time-stutter sections never complement one another and are underwhelming on their own. We'll have to see more of Quantum Break before we get a better idea of how it all comes together, but for now, it has potential.
Quantum Break preview photo
It could go many different ways
Remedy Entertainment has made a living by following a tried-and-true formula: take a third-person shooter, support it with a catchy and innovative gameplay mechanic, and wrap it all up with an emphasis on narrative. Max Payne...

Quantum Break photo
Quantum Break

Here's the Quantum Break demo from Microsoft's presser

Shoot, shoot, TIME STOPS
Aug 12
// Brett Makedonski
One of the hands-down biggest hits of Microsoft's press conference at gamescom 2014 was the Quantum Break demo. In case you missed the show, here's the eight-minute demo that played. I could do without all of the third-...
Quantum Break photo
Quantum Break

Microsoft killing its original programming won't affect Quantum Break

The half TV show will be fine
Jul 18
// Steven Hansen
Remember the Quantum Break, the literal half videogame, half TV show from Remedy (Alan Wake, Max Payne). Details have been sparse since the showing two E3s ago that failed to sell me. Despite Microsoft abandoning its att...

Quantum Break: Coming to Xbox One in 2015, reveal at Gamescom

New trailer shows gameplay -- finally!
May 29
// Dale North
Quantum Break, Remedy Entertainment's latest, is coming to Xbox One in 2015. A new video released this morning shows brand new gameplay. It feels like we've been waiting forever for some solid looks at gameplay, so this is g...
Quantum Break photo
Quantum Break

Quantum Break maxes out on painful time troubles

They broke the quantums
Dec 08
// Jonathan Holmes
The next big thing from Remedy is not an "immersive" iPad game about telling ships where to sail. It's Quantum Break, a game that looks to combine everything Remedy has learned from developing games like Alan Wake and Max Pa...
Remedy photo

Former Epic Games president joins Remedy's board

Mike Capps joins Alan Wake studio in advisory role
Sep 11
// Jordan Devore
Earlier this year, former Epic Games president Mike Capps announced that he was no longer going to be affiliated with the company in an advisory role as originally expected. He's since ended up on Alan Wake and Max Payne crea...
Remedy photo

Remedy needed a company like Microsoft for Quantum Break

'The bets are getting bigger,' says CEO
Jul 18
// Alasdair Duncan
Quantum Break looks to be one of the more compelling exclusives from the next generation of consoles. The game is attempting to be an ambitious blend of TV show and videogame and such ambition doesn't always pay dividends. In...

Take a closer look at Remedy's Quantum Break

Good times messing with the laws of quantum mechanics
Jun 10
// Jason Cabral
During the Microsoft's press conference, Remedy Entertainment co-founder and Max Payne impersonator Sam Lake introduced the audience to a bit more information on their upcoming Xbox One exclusive, Quantum Break. The trailer ...

DmC and all its DLC 40% off over on Steam

Plus Alan Wake franchise is 90% off
May 31
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
DmC: Devil May Cry is 40% off for Steam's weekend deal. You have until June 3 to score the game at $29.99. Plus, the same discount is applied to all three downloadable content offerings. Vergil's Downfall, the story expansion...
Alan Wake photo
Alan Wake

Alan Wake Humble Bundle and sale on Xbox 360

Creative lead Sam Lake also talks about the franchise's future
May 22
// Alasdair Duncan
At yesterday's Microsoft press conference, Remedy Studios unveiled its new game Quantum Break which looks to mean there won't be any more Alan Wake games coming any time soon. It seems fitting then that the two series titles...
New IP from the Alan Wake folks
[Update: Official trailer added.] Alan Wake developer Remedy is making Quantum Break, a new game for Xbox One.  The trailer begun in live action with a mother and daughter. It then showed a ship (which seemed to be glit...


Mega64: Alan Wake and his magical flashlight

Oct 08
// Tony Ponce
After the Bayonetta 2 video, this one is much, much, much better. Here is Mega64 at their finest -- harassing the crap out of people! I love how after a minute Derrick just fesses up to being a d*ck for kicks and giggles. Th...

Getting It Right: Max Payne

May 10 // Allistair Pinsof
Max PayneDeveloper: Remedy EntertainmentPublisher: Rockstar Games, Gathering (PC)Released: July 23, 2001In a nutshell: With only a PC arcade-style racing game behind them, Death Rally, Remedy spent half a decade developing Max Payne: An ambitious shooter set in NYC that told a contemporary noir story through comic book panels, cutscenes, and action. It stood out in 2001 for its photo-realistic graphics, cinematic presentation, and slow-mo mechanic. Spotlighting the player’s actionsI often find myself slowly panning the camera like a E3 demo guide when I play a Call of Duty game -- going against the game’s player direction in order to give myself a more cinematic experience. But, when I play Max Payne I feel like the ideal performance leads directly to the ideal visual feast. This is a rarity in videogames, but I’m not sure why it should be. Game developers must always perform a balancing act in giving players space to perform while also giving them rewards for their performance. The key to Max Payne’s success is its ability to highlight player action in a flashy way without taking away their influence or ruining the flow of action. Max Payne was revolutionary in combining these two aspects into a seamless experience. Where other games might put you in a fight and then present a cinematic of the events following it, Max Payne’s visual flair in battles came directly from the player’s actions -- letting a well-aimed bullet and bold dodge trigger brief cinematic moments.Metal Gear Solid made me feel like I was watching an awesome action flick, but it wasn’t until I played Max Payne that I felt I was in one. By framing the player’s actions with panning camera angles, dramatic zooms, and mesmerizing slow motion, Max Payne put the spotlight on the player’s actions in a way never attempted before.Developers shouldn’t be inspired by the mechanic of player activated slow-motion. Instead, they should focus on the effect framing a player's actions can have on combat. God of War and Uncharted achieve the same impact by presenting wide cinematic angles during platforming segments. Ninja Gaiden 2 applied this by highlighting deathblows in spectacular fashion, while Deus Ex: Human Revolution added spectacular visual animations to certain abilities when successfully performed. Even Resonance of Fate, a Japanese RPG of all things, managed to make a rote battle into a John Woo fever dream where characters endlessly jumped and fired guns when given the order. In years since Max Payne's debut, God of War, Fallout 3, and other games have done this in their own way to great effect. It’s easy to look at bullet time as a gimmick or a novel feature. In truth, it changes everything: the tone, the pace, and the spectacle of combat. There is nothing else like it. Even though others games replicated this feature, as in the F.E.A.R. series and Stranglehold, it never felt quite as special as it did in Max Payne. Versatile arsenalA good selection of weapons in a game is defined by its strengths as much as it is defined by its shortcomings. On the surface, Max Payne has the most generic set of weapons a videogame could possibly offer. As it should -- after all, the story is based in New York City, circa 2001. While sci-fi and arena shooters may have more imaginative weapons, few games strike the near perfect balance of Max’s arsenal. Due to careful calibration on the developer’s part, each weapon has its ideal time and place. Even during the game’s final hours, I found myself reaching to weapons obtained hours earlier out of strategic necessity. Sure, the Striker may have terrible spread (in the first Max Payne, at least) -- and you can cheat the reload of every weapon by quickly swapping them in-and-out -- but otherwise the entire weapon selection is pretty much flawless. In one instance, you may assume a door in front of you leads to a narrow hallway, so you equip dual Ingram uzis to deal maximum damage in a short amount of time. Turns out it’s a wide open courtyard with enemies above and below. Oops! So you snipe an enemy above, pull out the M4 Carbine on enemies below, and dive into an incoming group of enemies with dual Desert Eagles.As good as the first Max Payne’s weapons were, the sequel perfected it by giving projectiles a dedicated button and rebalancing other weapons (although the grenade launcher and baseball bat were sorely missed). While many games have a loadout similar to Max’s, it’s rare they strike the same balance. The difference it makes is drastic. Instead of leaning toward the vastly superior weapon, Max Payne’s intense combat scenarios and challenging difficulty demand the player to know what’s right for a specific enemy type and setting. Every battle is a victory well earned in Max Payne, even when it leaves poor Max hobbling on one leg toward the next ambush. Emotional complexityWhen David Cage and Jenova Chen speak of “emotional complexity”, I roll my eyes. After all, who is to say a father grieving for his kidnapped son is more emotionally complex than Kratos’ endless rage at the gods? From a distance, every emotion is equal in its potential for impact. It all depends on delivery and the player’s value judgement.However, I don’t entirely dismiss the idea of “emotional complexity.” It’s just that to me it means something much different. It’s not about the value judgement of a specific emotion but the layering of contrasting emotions: The way a Smiths song can sound so dour, while Morrissey’s sardonic lyrics can make me smile. The way George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead can make a zombie a source of fear seconds after being a source of laughter. Max Payne is also full of emotionally complexity. In play, the game can be harrowing depending on player health and ammo. In storytelling, the game can be freighting or laugh-out-loud funny depending on what it’s presenting at the time. In one instance you are in a nightmare having a dead baby shoved into your face, while another stage contains a parody of BBC’s Upstairs Downstairs. Having contrasting emotional elements isn’t a key to success, as Fez and Sword & Sworcery recently proved. Both games have dialog and elements that break the game’s fiction for a cheap, self-knowing laugh. It all comes down to delivery. While Max Payne 2 may take itself a bit more seriously, both games succeed in skillfully telling a story while giving the player enough opportunities to laugh, tense up, and occasionally shit themselves. True emotional complexity -- that is contrasting emotions piling into each other; not sappy music playing over pastoral landscapes -- makes for games with more depth. Whether it’s melancholy music playing over an upbeat adventure or comedic dialog overlapping a harrowing scenario, layered emotional tones can create unique, memorable moments in games. Start with a bangNeither Max Payne has a good story. Sure, they have great atmosphere, personality, and characters, but they hardly make up a tale we haven't heard before. What these games do have, however, is an immediate and clear goal given to the player by a time-tested story method: starting in media res.For you illiterate swine, in media res is a Latin term which means “into the middle of things." It’s when a story begins without introducing the setting, characters, and/or scenario. The audience enters into the story at a mid-point. The result is two-fold: positive and negative. On one hand, it creates an indifference in the viewer by distancing them from the characters’ reality. On the other hand, it creates a goal for the viewer: “I must figure out how things got to this point!”Thankfully, Max Payne is such a great narrator that we feel connected to him despite not understanding his situation. Max’s goal and our goal both intersect and conflict: We want him to get his revenge but we also want to know how he got his revenge. It’s an odd thing.I can’t tell you how many games I’ve played that start me from square one. Whether I’m a soldier in a training course or an orphan boy in a mystical village learning ancient mythology, I’ve been through the ringer so many times in games that I now find starting a new one intimidating due to the inevitably dull opening act. Max Payne’s approach is refreshing. I don’t need to have everything spelled out for me. If a developer feels that they must slowly initiate the player to the game world's history, please have the restraint to hold back until an hour or so into the action. Exposition is a cheap tactic in film, but in games it can be devastating to immersion and flow. Not every game needs to follow suit, but if games considered reining in the exposition early on we could tell familiar stories in new ways. Which is what storytelling should be about! Intelligently varied enemy encountersIndividuality is overrated. Location is everything. Just look around your day job or school. Are the most successful workers/students so stunning or are they just the product of fortunate events that lined before them?Sure, Max Payne may not have the enemy variety of an id Software game, but it makes up for it through economical placement. The game consistently changes things up when it comes to enemy positioning and strategy. Sometimes you’ll open a door and a thug will be standing in front of you with a shotgun pointed toward your face, so you point one right back at him. Another time you may have thugs running away from you for cover -- when do you ever seen that in games? Thugs come in through windows, elevator shafts, and occasionally grapple down from above. You are constantly on your toes. A far cry from Call of Duty, where enemies shuffle out of the same door and line up behind the same wall.It’s hard to give enemy variety to a game grounded in reality. Uncharted and Call of Duty throw heavily shielded enemies for challenge, but they are a nuisance that ruins the flow of combat. Max Payne shows that being creative with simple enemies and increasing their numbers can be much more engaging than one super-powered enemy with a shotgun -- though even Max Payne makes this mistake with a couple lackluster boss encounters. Thankfully these are the exception rather than the rule. I’ll be completely honest: I was worried I would have to force this entry or completely abandon it all together. As much as I loved Max Payne in 2001, I wasn’t sure it would hold up. I was pleasantly surprised than to rediscover how fantastic it is in nearly every aspect. The sequel made some major improvements in combat, but I still prefer the tone and quirks of the first. It’s hard to pick between the two but thankfully no one is forcing us to.I find Rockstar’s changes to the series very disconcerting as a fan, but I’d rather they make it their own than force themselves to fit into the mold Remedy made. The offbeat humor and tongue-in-cheek story of Max Payne definitely isn’t something most developers would attempt, which is a big factor of why it’s still a refreshing play. One thing I trust Rockstar will get right is the series' penchant for turning combat into a spectacle worthy of a Hollywood action film. So many developers today fail to realize that having action surrounding the player isn't the same as them contributing to it. There are only so many times you can watch a scripted sequence of a helicopter crashing and feel impressed. As the middling Modern Warfare 3 proved, having more helicopters falling and more explosions isn't the answer. The answer, upon revisiting Max Payne, is painfully obvious: Let the player tell the story through their actions and make the presentation so smooth that it feels as if the camera, animation, and enemy reactions were choreographed all along.

[Getting It Right is a monthly series in which I take a look at the elements that make up a classic game. What were the key ingredients that set it apart and make it hold up to this day? Read on to find out.] It’s not e...


Part one of Max Payne 3 comic out now, read it for free

May 05
// Brett Zeidler
As was previously promised just a few weeks ago, Rockstar and Marvel have released the first part of the Max Payne 3 comic. Written by Dan Houser and Sam Lake, "After The Fall" explains a bit of Max's childhood and some event...

Mr. Scratch responds to critics of American Nightmare

Apr 05
// Conrad Zimmerman
In this new promotional video for Alan Wake's American Nightmare, the villainous Mr. Scratch presents a slideshow of critic responses to the game, replying to them and adding his own commentary. Our very own Maurice Tan is e...

Remedy is working on a game for next gen consoles

Mar 22
// Dale North
Remedy Entertainment is hiring for their next game, which they say is a project 'targeted at future generation consoles.' A posting on Remedy's community forums let members know that more than 20 job openings will open up in ...

Alan Wake hits two million sales, has legs as a series

Mar 13
// Jim Sterling
Remedy's Alan Wake has topped two million sales on Xbox 360 and PC, becoming enough of a success to secure its future as a series.  "We've moved over two million copies -- that's including PC," Franchise development head...

Alan Wake PC vs Xbox 360: Gah! So pretty on max settings

Feb 21
// Dale North
I spent some time with Alan Wake on my beastly [brag] PC rig (featuring dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 cards) last night, running this already pretty game on max settings. As you'd imagine, it looks sooo much better th...

Alan Wake PC recoups costs within 48 hours

Feb 20
// Jim Sterling
Oh PC gaming, that hotbed of piracy where developers can never make any money. That's where Remedy was able to make back all of its porting and marketing costs for Alan Wake within a 48-hour period. DAT PIRACY! The game becam...

Review: Alan Wake's American Nightmare

Feb 20 // Maurice Tan
Alan Wake's American Nightmare (Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Remedy EntertainmentPublisher: Microsoft StudiosReleased: February 22, 2012MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15) Following the events of Alan Wake's finale and the novelist's subsequent dark adventures in The Signal and The Writer, Alan has made his way back to yet another piece of Americana: desert-ridden Arizona. During his absense, Alan's dark half Mr. Scratch has been running amok in the "real world" and continues to grow ever more powerful. Tonight, it's time to put an end to his rule of malice. Tonight, evil lurks in Night Springs. [embed]222126:42741[/embed] American Nightmare follows the structure of an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, inspired by the supernatural and science fiction pulp action genre, as Alan tries to piece together a final solution to rid the world of Mr. Scratch. From a roadside diner and motel, to a mountain observatory and a drive-in, Remedy has once again tried to portray an easily identifiable world within a world and succeeded. Environments are somewhat more open than the largely confined areas seen in Alan Wake, and finding manuscript pages, which now also unlock better weapons, encourages exploration. Before long, you start to notice that there are far more missing manuscript pages than you can find in a level, even when sweeping it extensively. There's a simple reason for this, and it's not one that everyone is going to like: American Nightmare's story mode makes you retread the same levels multiple times before its conclusion. Each time, enemy encounters become more challenging, new types of enemies are introduced, and new collectibles can be found. Different and new paths through the levels also present themselves, although this difference can be marginal at best. There's a story-related reason for returning to this familiar ground and the characters who inhabit these levels add to the intrigue somewhat. Even though you won't just be doing the same thing multiple times in a row, it can become a bit too familiar before the journey is over. Thankfully, this repeated journey is an enjoyable one. I seem to be one of the few people who didn't have any problems with the controls and combat in Alan Wake, but combat is definitely a bit tighter this time around. Largely due to the new weapons and the faster regeneration speed of the flashlight -- which also renders the use of batteries mostly obsolete -- you'll find yourself lighting up and blasting Taken without too much trouble. A few new insectoid and raven classes of Taken may prove to be troublesome if you have existing phobias; hell, you might even develop a few new ones along the way. Some other new enemies include a Taken that launches darkness grenades at you, the Splitter who splits into two smaller versions if you focus your beam on him, and a The Hills Have Eyes type of mutated hillbilly giant who wields a buzz saw. Some of these new enemies don't exactly fit in the darkness-infested altered reality of the original Alan Wake, but Alan is trapped in a Night Springs story (the fictional Twilight Zone-style show in the Wake universe), so it's easy enough to overlook in favor of improvements on the gameplay. Although American Nightmare is billed to be accessible to new players, it's still largely tailored to fans of the original game. Manuscript pages fill gaps for those new to the Alan Wake universe, but this self-contained spin-off story still picks up some time after the last "special feature" piece of downloadable content, The Writer, and many allusions to the original can be found in radio shows, cutscenes, and TV viewings. You don't need to be an Alan Wake veteran to enjoy it, but it most definitely helps. Since Alan is supposed to be trapped inside an episode of Night Springs (or is he?), TV sets will no longer show you the little Night Springs episodes when you turn them on. Instead, you'll find Mr. Scratch talking to you through the magic of live action video. Mr. Scratch is brilliant as a Alan's psychopathic alter ego made flesh, and serves as one of the more believable and memorable examples of a purely evil videogame antagonist in recent history. He is Wake's version of George Stark in Stephen King's The Dark Half, a tale alluded to often in American Nightmare. These little videos also add a lot of character to create a more tangible opponent -- something Alan Wake was missing -- and what Mr. Scratch is lacking in mystery compared to the Dark Presence in the original game, he more than makes up for with sheer evil. Besides the new story and updated combat, a conceptually brilliant mechanic sees the light of day in American Nightmare. Alan can now reshape reality by recreating a setting to match his manuscript pages, which triggers an event that was not supposed to happen according to Mr. Scratch's plans. For the first time since you were able to turn words into objects by shining your flashlight onto them in Alan Wake and its DLC, you finally get to put your often hinted-at powers to work and really play as the creative artist who can wield the power of creation to combat the Dark Presence's influences. As innovative and ambitious as the mechanic sounds, however, it's sadly underused and underdeveloped. Instead of being able to actually be creative with this weapon of creativity, altering reality through the process of exerting free will and breaking the chain of predetermination, you end up following a streamlined design. The act of reshaping reality is as simple as walking to markers on your map to press a button, until a setting is deemed complete enough to allow you to progress. It's a shame, since the first time you see the results of your reality-reshaping actions alongside a booming soundtrack, your mind is overwhelmed with the sheer possibilities of such a mechanic within the Alan Wake universe. The second time you do it, it's a case of déjà vu. The third time, it's Groundhog Day. Since American Nightmare acts as both a continuation of the story and a self-contained spin-off experiment, this is definitely one of the key aspects we'll want to see further explored in the future of the franchise. Given the limitations of a downloadable title, it's understandable that Remedy didn't take this all the way, but it fits the Wake universe so perfectly that just a taste of it is simply not enough. Through your repeated journey, you'll meet characters with whom you can interact a bit more than before. The voice acting of the second character you'll meet is cringeworthy, as is her mindboggling insistance on holding her arms in creepily peculiar position that is as robotic as her voice. While you are talking to these characters, you're free to walk around a bit as you go through the motions of a conversation, leading to a lot of cases of jumping around and aiming your gun at their faces while you're telling them not to be afraid. Still, American Nightmare manages to make a hipster girl sexy against all odds, so it deserves credit for that. What criticisms one can raise against American Nightmare's story mode tend to vanish while playing the game's third act, as increasingly tense combat encounters are accompanied by rock music and ramp up the pacing to the finale. It's during this last act that all the elements of gameplay, visuals, and music start to fully work together, and it's only then that you finally reach a state of perfect flow while playing it. Even the matter of going through the same levels is eventually forgiven as everything falls into place -- it's almost the complete opposite of the third act in any Stephen King storyline. Moreover, the title looks and feels like a full-fledged title. While it's not quite as long as Alan Wake was, it's equally as satisfying most console shooters' campaigns. By the time you finish it, you have to remind yourself that it's "only" an XBLA title. The story mode is worth the price of admission alone and it's a no-brainer for Wake fans to pick it up just to see more of their favorite hero, but American Nightmare also offers a new "Arcade Action" mode called Fight Till Dawn. More like Mercenaries and less like a Horde mode, this is where you'll improve on the combat skills you may have honed while beating the harder difficulties of the original game. Five levels give you ten minutes to blast through as many waves as possible for the highest score. Every time you shoot or dodge an enemy, your multiplier bar increases. Get hit, and you lose all your multiplier progress. It's a frantic mode that forces you to never get hit if you want to compete on the leaderboards, and one that you'll quickly find yourself playing for an hour here and there. Even though the new weapons feel like overkill for Wake veterans in the story mode, their relative strengths and weaknesses come to fruition in this Arcade mode. It also highlights the occasional dysfunction of your dodge move, unfortunately. This dodge move is key to maintaining and increasing your multiplier during large group encounters, but can also be a bit fickle about working as advertised. Occasionally it will let you down like a childhood friend during times of crisis when you thought you could count on it. After putting a couple of days into Arcade mode, you will learn to work around it, turning the dodge move into a somewhat flaccid extension of your virtual persona, like a numb arm you flail around as a last resort against an oppresive foe of darkness. Once you've performed well enough in the standard five levels, you can unlock their Nightmare difficulty versions that start you out at a different location on the map, and mixes up weapon and ammo locations. Any player who doesn't get enough of a challenge from the story mode will get his ass kicked in these Nightmare levels. The levels are far darker, there is only one escape zone of light to regenerate your health, and waves keep spawning regardless of your progression. It's no small feat to survive one of these levels, let alone reach a high score, and despite the odd annoying Taken grenadier who can regularly hit you out of the blue thanks to the lack of a proper grenade indicator, this is by far one of the tensest experiences you'll find on the Xbox 360's entire digital platform. Arcade mode is a very welcome addition overall, especially since most of American Nightmare is lacking in the mystery and brooding atmosphere that Alan Wake had plenty of. The renewed focus on better combat and high octane action empowers Mr. Wake beyond the weak and shaken physical and mental survivalist of the original. Then again, Alan has already fought his fears and claimed victory over a smoke monster, his irrational Ego, and a thousand Taken, so he is ready to kick some ass this time around. Having said that, anyone who claims there is no tension to be found at all has simply never played any of the Arcade mode levels on Nightmare. Alan Wake's American Nightmare is as close to a full console title as we've seen on Xbox Live Arcade to date. Its story mode is fun foray into the twisted universe of Alan Wake, even if some of what's going on won't always make complete sense to any but the most dedicated of fans. Remedy has admirably tackled the repetitive nature of the campaign in order to get the most out of the the content they had, although it does start to wear thin at the midway point. Thankfully, a strong final act and a ridiculously addictive Arcade mode more than make up for it. For the hardcore Alan Wake fans, there is a lot to love in this new title. You can enjoy it fully without knowing about everything that happened in the original, the DLC special features, and the expanded universe from the Limited Edition book, but you are most definitely rewarded for having stuck with Alan in his past adventures. If anything, my main gripe with American Nightmare is that it shows Remedy can take the Alan Wake series to places that could blow us away if someone would just give them the resources to create another full retail title, yet we are only allowed glimpses of various mechanics and experiments in their downloadable titles to date. If that makes you think it's not worth playing, think again. Alan Wake's American Nightmare is a worthwhile expansion to the novelist's saga and one that you'll come back to time and time again, quite literally until the break of dawn.

Ask any fan why they like Alan Wake, and you'll hear different stories. Some will talk about how they enjoyed the Stephen King, Twin Peaks, and Lost inspired storyline and setting. Others will laud the tense experience on the...


Alan Wake's American Nightmare video prepares for launch

Feb 17
// Jordan Devore
With Alan Wake's American Nightmare almost upon us, it's time for a mood-setting launch trailer. Fitting voice-over work, plenty of slow-mo dodges, and a pack of oversized spiders -- yeah, this is pretty good. The game may n...

Alan Wake on PC: Launch, tech features detailed

Feb 02
// Dale North
Alan Wake will hit Steam on February 16 and will follow a bit later at retail in something they call a "game box." Pricing is confirmed at $29.99 on Steam. What you'll get with this PC version is high-res graphics and support...

The DTOID Show: Anthony Carboni's American Nightmare

Feb 01
// Tara Long
Happy Hump Day, fellow humpers! In celebration of humping, tonight's episode will be strictly devoid of humping. You're welcome. On tonight's show, we relay the good and bad news surrounding Dragon's Dogma, give a run-down o...

Boxed PC version of Alan Wake also on the way

Jan 26
// Jordan Devore
Despite boxed copies of PC games being largely irrelevant to many of us for years now, someone is still buying these things. We know that Alan Wake will see a release on Steam sometime next month, and now Nordic Games has ste...

Alan Wake finally makes it to PC next month

Jan 22
// Fraser Brown
It's taken over six years, a canceled version and a petition, but Alan Wake is finally coming to PC this February. And some people though the wait for the Xbox 360 version was a long one. Remedy revealed its month of release ...

CES: Alan Wake's American Nightmare kicked my ass

Jan 11 // Conrad Zimmerman
Today at CES, I had the chance to check out the game's arcade mode which pits Alan against waves of increasingly dangerous enemies which he must stave off until dawn. The stage I played was set in a graveyard and a pretty large one at that. Weapons are scattered around the environment along with the occasional safe haven, lit areas underneath lamps which will provide temporary respite and refill Alan's health before flickering out. The combat system follows the same pattern as before. Enemies are protected by darkness which must be burned off using a flashlight before they are rendered vulnerable to attack. Gamers already familiar with Alan Wake are in for a surprise or two, though, as new enemy types will require you to switch up tactics. The grenadier, for example, keeps his distance and uses explosives to ruin Alan's day. Even more insidious are the Splitters. These enemies aren't coated in darkness at all and can be immediately killed. But if you focus your flashlight on them, they'll multiply and become even more of a pain in the ass. Toss one or two of those into a group of regular enemies and it's very easy to wind up with an uncontrollable mob on your hands. The combat is also more frantic than ever. Enemies are much more aggressive and the pace of the game is very quick. Even as an experienced player, American Nightmare ripped me a new one and neither of my two attempts to survive the ten minute round met with success. That's a good thing and I expect that the end result is going to be one hell of a good time to play. Remedy couldn't give us a firm date on when we'll get to play the game in its full glory, as Microsoft has yet to reveal the order in which the House Party titles will hit XBLA (natch). All I can do is expect to be shining a light in the darkness sometime in late February or early March.

I was a big fan of Remedy's Alan Wake. But one of the less thrilling aspects was the combat, which never really evolves much throughout the game and begins to feel a little like a chore the longer you go. My solution to ...


The DTOID Show: Tara Long's Pokemon Nightmare

Dec 19
// Tara Long
Greetings, travelers! The Destructoid show is back for its regularly-scheduled Monday episode, and boy, have we got news for you! (The answer is yes, in case you were wondering.) First up, Alan's Wake's American Nightmare is...

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