Alone in the Dark hands-on

Central Park erupts with horror in our closest look yet at this fiery bloodbath

Fire is also a pretty powerful weapon, of course, and in the 360 version, it's the only way to get rid of bigger enemies (beatdowns or bullets are usually enough on the Wii and PS2). When confronted by a zombie-like possessed human, for example, you've got two options: either set a chair or some other flammable object on fire and bash it into them (they'll try to get away, because they know this can kill them instantly) or find something that isn't flammable and use it to bash, chop or shoot them into a stupor. Once they're down, you can drag them to the nearest open flame and dunk them in, at which point they'll disappear in a puff of smoke.

You're not necessarily limited to using found flames, either. Carnby carries his stuff around in a pocket-filled jacket that works as a dynamic, real-time inventory system (meaning monsters can attack you while you're looking at it), and you'll be able to use this to mix and match objects, creating things like Molotov cocktails and incendiary bullets.

Pulling all of this stuff off is actually pretty complicated, or at least it felt that way when we played. With so many things to do and destroy, the learning curve is fairly steep, and while some actions - like, say, drawing a gun and shooting monsters - were a breeze, others were tricky. Just walking around was a little disorienting, since moving the right analog stick just panned the camera back and forth a little instead of giving us complete control.

That's because the right stick (or the Wii remote) is reserved mainly for realistically swinging around any club-like objects you might pick up. Some of the time this worked well, as we splintered doors with fire extinguishers or clumsily swung an axe into a zombie's torso. But it took us a few tries before we were able to do anything that required even a little bit of finesse, like smashing in a car window without completely demolishing its driver's-side door. And that's to say nothing of trying to swing a makeshift weapon while holding a flashlight, which sends your thin beam of light swinging all over the place and makes it practically useless.

Then there are the sequences in which you'll have to couple together colored wires. A neat, optional alternative to solving combination locks or hunting for car keys, these minigames force you to pick from six wires - with three in each hand - and then move them as close as possible to each other without making them actually touch. Splice together the right wires, and you'll open the lock or start the car - which would be a lot easier if we didn't have zombies lurching over and yanking us out of the car seat while we tried to get the hang of it.

To be fair, though, getting the hang of hotwiring leads to a pretty badass driving sequence in which Carnby - along with his new friend Sarah and a mysterious old man - piles into a taxi, roars out of the skyscraper's parking level and bursts into a Manhattan that's being ripped apart at the seams, apparently by the unseen fissure-monster. This leads to a memorably apocalyptic chase sequence in which you'll drive around the perimeter of Central Park at high speeds, dodging panicked drivers, chunks of falling skyscraper and gigantic fissures in the street that threaten to swallow your car.