It’s almost as if the Xbox 360 is showing off. Winking its little ring of light at you. Exploding some particle effect fireworks right in your face just because it can. We’re talking about dynamic lighting and ambiance, and it would be nothing more than visual showboating if it weren’t for developers like Starbreeze, who see the huge possibilities in real-time changeable atmospheres and have utilized it in The Darkness, a title that would have been largely impossible on the previous generations’ consoles.
Alan Wake has a lot in common with that game, but deserves to be placed at the opposite end of the spectrum because where in The Darkness light is your deadly enemy, in Alan Wake it’s your only hope. Wake’s chilling prophecy of a world ruled by evil minions of darkness has leapt off the pages of his novel and into his life - and it’s refreshing to play a game where your hopes aren’t loaded into a gun (Wake is no Max Payne, notes Alan Wake’s poetically-named writer Sam Lake, ruefully...) but rather down the barrel of a common garage torch.