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Alone In The Dark

Labeled With  alone in the dark xbox360 atari
Written by DM on Sunday, June 29 2008

One of the selling points of AITD is the fact that you can bust through almost any door using the items you pickup. Atari are not lying on this point, you really can break through almost any door in the game. The problem is, after the first level, you spend almost the entire game in Central Park. How many doors are there in a park? Busting through doors and watching them splinter is supposed to be fun. Isn’t it?

Still though, after the first level and its amazing, real-time, “building-falling-down” animations that happen right before your eyes, I could not wait to see what the game had in store for me at the main location – Central Park. What a horrible letdown this turned out to be. Not only does the game make you spend a disproportionate amount of time in the park map, but the game turns into one big fetch quest. You have to comb the park to find haunted tree stumps, and then battle the creatures guarding them. On top of this, the enemies you face are no longer the challenging, quick-moving zombies, but for the most part, they are little, annoying flying creatures and blob-like slime puddles that eat you whole if you do not shine the light on them. This is not to say that all of the action in the park is bad, a bit is just as fun as the first map. Why the developers felt that the game should not consist of different maps that all possessed the same wow factor as the initial stage, I am not sure.

The plot of the original AITD games was not the best written story around, but it was coherent enough that you could let yourself get into it. Unfortunately, this is not so with AITD 08. The story just gets more and more obscure and eventually downright silly. In fact, there are times in the game where you are not even sure what the reason is for the task at hand, and you never end up finding out! If you factor in the hokey and badly-done voice over work, and the facial animations that almost match up with the dialog, and by the time you are an hour or two into The Park, you honestly could care less what is actually happening.

There is a feature in Alone in the Dark that you will find in almost no other game – the ability to skip sections. If you get stuck on a puzzle that is either too hard, or too frustrating to complete using the game’s dodgy motion controls, then you can simply move on to the next episode. This is certainly a useful feature for those who only have a limited amount of patience when it comes to dealing with puzzles. It also begs the question of why the developers just did not make the game good enough that people do not want to skip sections? With the amount of flaws the game has, I pretty much guarantee you will be using the skip feature at least once. No shame in it with this title, take my word for it folks.

You must be thinking by now “does the game get anything right?” The fact is that this game is really not anywhere near as bad as some of the stinkers that have come out recently. The game’s atmosphere certainly does give off a scary vibe, and the 3am-in-the-dark scare factor is in full effect. The early stages are an impressive feat of graphical programming and real-time interaction. You will see some things in the crumbling building that you have never seen a game do before in real time, and the developers deserve kudos, for sure. The graphics do suffer from slowdown here and there, but only when the action gets so crazy that you almost expect slowdown after playing the other games from this generation. The problem is that the great parts of Alone in the Dark just aren’t “great enough” to overcome the deadly dull parts that take up the majority of the middle of the game.

When playing Alone in the Dark, if you stick it out until you get to Central Park, and play into it for a few hours, you will come to the same inexplicable question that most people have, I think. You will simply wonder why the game did not continue along the wonderful pace that it began with. The wonky controls could have been overlooked, had there been different locations to play in, each with their own wow moments. Unfortunately, it seems like the developers completed the first stages of AITD, and then decided they needed a nice, long, rest after doing such a good job. It makes you wonder why they dusted off such an old chestnut, only to come out swinging and then get picked off leading from first base. The ingredients of a great game are here, folks, they even start to come together, but for some reason, do not hold. This game is worth checking out for the first three hours or so. Beyond that, continue at your own peril because you really will be left all Alone in the Dark.

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Alone In The Dark

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