Alan Wake

Platform: Xbox 360 exclusive
Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: Q2 2010

There’s a big part of the bit-tech collective which is seriously wondering if Alan Wake will ever be released, let alone what state it might be in when/if it does arrive. Originally announced in 2005 as a DirectX 10 exclusive game for Windows Vista, Alan Wake has since shifted to become a Xbox 360 exclusive that’s apparently set for a Q2 2010 release.

At it’s core Alan Wake is a game about a man trapped inside his own head – specifically his nightmares. The eponymous Alan Wake is a novelist who first comes to the coastal town of Bright Falls in order to find inspiration for his next book, but instead finds his wife missing and himself being hunted by photo-sensitive monsters who lurk in the shadows of the literal ghost town.

Compounding the tension further is the fact that Alan feels certain he somehow initiated the situation and that he is playing the part of a character in a story he once wrote, but can’t remember specifically…

Games to Watch in 2010 Alan Wake's final call and spies vs spies
Alan Wake - Shoot first, write later

It certainly sounds like thrilling stuff, especially since it’s coming from the studio and writer who made the first Max Payne and the gameplay looks pretty spiffy too, with the action based around using light to banish the monsters. Slightly worrying though is how much the structure of the game seems to have changed over the course of development, with a previously announced sandbox world having been discarded and the title now rumoured to be sporting an episodic presentation.

Alan Wake is undoubtedly a game with a lot to prove, especially in light of the platform changes and extended development period, but it may be worth having faith in it for a while longer. There are few studios with a reputation as strong as Remedy’s and few writers as in tune with the gaming format as Sam Lake, so they might just manage to make Alan Wake worth the wait after all. Either way, it’s a title we’ll be watching very closely this year.

Alpha Protocol

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: Q2 2010

We might be going out on a limb with this one, but despite the lukewarm reaction that others have had to Obsidian Entertainment’s new spy RPG, we’re quietly excited about how Alpha Protocol might turn out – especially since we saw the game on show at GamesCom 2009.

Billed as a modern day espionage game, Alpha Protocol follows the usual story of a betrayed CIA agent who finds himself up to his neck in secret societies, double deals and missing missiles. What sets it apart from other games though is the vigour with which it attacks the subject matter, allowing players to form their own allegiances and follow different routes through the game.

Games to Watch in 2010 Alan Wake's final call and spies vs spies
Alpha Protocol - Licensed to roll 2D6 for damage

The bulk of Alpha Protocol’s action is based around the series of safehouses you have established throughout the world and to which you retreat between missions. From within a safehouse you can build dossiers on all the characters you interact with, conduct research, buy equipment and arrange meetings. Once your prep is complete you can undertake a mission, either conducting raids or all out assaults or simply meeting with informants.

The third person action system that drives most of Alpha Protocol’s combat is about what you’d expect from a modern shooter, but it’s underpinned by an extensive RPG system that tracks your weapon proficiency, friendships and special skills. Lockpicking, hacking, bluffing and interrogation – these are just some of the things you’ll need to have in your arsenal, with most levels offering a choice of play-paths to players. There’s a consequence to everything you do in Alpha Protocol and in the tangled web of relationships you find yourself trapped in there aren’t any clear goodies or baddies, so you always stand to make new enemies as well as allies.

It’s not all looking good for Alpha Protocol though and the Sega-published action-RPG has been hit with delays on more than one occasion. Despite the development problems though we’re still hopeful that Alpha Protocol might manage to blow us away when it’s released later this year.
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October 14 2021 | 15:04