| Alan Wake (Xbox 360) |
Alan Wake is a game that blends survival horror with action along with a healthy focus on story as well. The main character is a writer named Alan Wake who is going on a much needed vacation out in the quiet mountain town of Bright Falls along with his wife Alice. Shortly after they arrive Alice disappears and Alan wakes up in the middle of the forest surrounding the town while being stalked by otherworldly creatures called the Taken. These beings are weakened by the light and tend to attack in large groups with deadly melee attacks. Luckily, Alan has some skill with a gun as well as his trusty flashlight and survives long enough to get back to town only to find he has somehow lost an entire week.
From there Alan must attempt to figure out what is causing the strange events in this small town while also trying to get his wife back alive. The actual gameplay is fairly simple, but very satisfying with the player using the flashlight to target the Taken and destroy them. To kill a Taken the darkness covering it must be burned away by the flashlight which leaves them exposed and able to be killed by bullets like a normal human. Taken come in different types with some having better armor and others being faster, but most act the same way for the most part. Oddly, all of the Taken seen are male despite the implication that both men and woman can become one and females falling prey to the darkness is never shown.
The main character Alan is shown to be very caring at times and shows concern for his best friend and wife, though he also suffers from an extremely short temper and is suggested to have problems with alcohol. Barry, his best friend who was clearly intended to be the comedy relief in an otherwise dark story has several character flaws himself, but the game does show him to have redeeming qualities as well. While giving the main characters flaws helps them seem more realistic the game has an unfortunate habit of giving men all the worst characteristics compared to female characters. While the woman in the game do have flaws themselves they usually aren't as drastic as the ones the male characters have. This isn't too extreme, but I did feel that the game made an attempt to make the women seem wiser and more cool headed than the men at times.
The biggest flaw the game has is its complete refusal to cause any lasting harm to its female characters while killing off the men in fairly high numbers. Men get attacked and killed by Taken or turned into Taken themselves and killed by Alan shortly after while the worst the women suffer are brief possession, being knocked out, and in the case of one woman, being killed before the game even begins. I will admit that it made sense for most of the enemies to be male due to the location and the way the Taken fight, but there wasn't any reason for the game to exclude any type of female Taken, especially with how lightly the women in the story get off compared to the men.
I don't really find the game to be truly sexist so much as it follows the same stereotypes that many games today do. For what its worth, I feel the game did make an effort to keep the characters balanced by giving both the men and women flaws and simply didn't do as good of a job as they could have. Still, the fact that men got the short end of the stick so much more often will probably leave a bad taste in most gamers mouths. The game is a lot of fun and most of the characters are well developed, though the subtle misandry throughout takes a bit of the enjoyment out. With beautiful graphics and a deeper storyline than most games its well worth buying if it fits your tastes. If you can stomach all the male bashing in the mainstream media you can probably tolerate this title enough to at least give it a rental and see how you like it.
- Reviewed by MidnightUndead
Rating: T (Blood, language, use of alcohol and tobacco, and violence)