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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who's Afraid of the Dark?

Another week down and another game added to my finished pile. Alpha Protocol didn't take me too long to get through but it was fun while it lasted. International intrigue and a great stealth mechanic made Alpha Protocol a blast to play. I think the ending could have used a little work (at least, the ending that I saw) but it was worth the effort nonetheless. I'm still a little unclear as to why reviewers seemed to come down so hard on this game - though the review scores are still quite good across the board. Alpha Protocol may not be the best game I've ever played but it was definitely worth my time.

Before I move past Alpha Protocol, I wanted to mention one last thing. As I got near the end of the game, I couldn't help but get a little "Deus Ex" feel off the game. I'm not sure if my brain just associates corruption and shadow government agencies with the cybernetic storyline in Deus Ex but the association was definitely there. If you liked Deus Ex or if you enjoy RPGs, I highly recommend Alpha Protocol.

Now that I've finished saving the world, it's time to focus on saving something on a smaller scale in Alan Wake. I started playing Alan Wake on Sunday and am currently on a mission to save Wake's wife and perhaps located Wake's former grasp on reality in the process. Despite being a little hesitant to jump back into a survival horror game, I'm glad that I gave this game a chance.

Alan Wake is much more than simple survival horror. The game looks and sounds great. Perhaps not on par with some more recent games like Red Dead Redemption or Uncharted 2 but still exceptional in its own right. The atmosphere delivered in Alan Wake is terrific. The visuals, soundtrack, and sound effects create a world that is both beautiful and terrifying depending on how high the sun is sitting in the sky.

The true strength of Alan Wake is in the story and performances by the game's virtual cast of characters. After playing through the first half of the game, I can barely wait to continue the story through to the end. Despite short bouts of extreme terror, I can't help but push on towards the end of the game. Alan Wake's narrative is pulling me along, forcing me to play far longer and more intensely than I would while playing a horror game. Perhaps it's the Stephen King fan in me that really "gets" this game. Or perhaps it's the gamer in me that is really digging the game's (unexpectedly) tight controls and excellent action that bridge the gap between narrative and third-person shooter. I can't wait to get home and play some more Alan Wake tonight!

Finally, I've been unable to put a stop to my recent feeding frenzy on eBay. I've purchased a couple more titles that I feel are well worth playing - especially at these prices. I picked up a copy of Halo 3 ODST ($15) and Left 4 Dead ($14) for my Xbox 360. These are two titles that I missed due to their heavy focus on online multiplayer. But at these prices, I think it's time to enjoy the single-player campaigns for both games. Even Left 4 Dead's single player experience has got to be worth $14, right?