Tech Analysis: Alan Wake trailer

And so the gamescom madness kicks off with the first triple-A trailer: a fascinating developer insight into Xbox 360's forthcoming psychological thriller, Alan Wake. The vid ran exclusively on Eurogamer TV yesterday, and today, Digital Foundry adds its tech annotations courtesy of contributor Alex Goh.

Impressions on the video are positive; it's genuine, it's real-time, there's a ton of actual in-game action (in addition to the engine-driven cut-scenes) and it is curious to note that the v-sync issues the game currently has have not been corrected in the final, released video as is mandated in the Xbox Live Marketplace video specs. Technology-wise, Remedy is certainly going for it with the volumetric lighting, and the dynamic nature of the lighting scheme and the shadows is superb.

There's also much to love in the game's atmospheric approximation effects, manifesting not just in the "haze" enveloping each scene but also in elements such as the cloud rendering. Performance in the final game should be interesting; graphics technology really has its work cut-out dealing with transparent alpha textures, and Alan Wake seems to be employing them in spades. The level of post-processing involved is also noteworthy in that, combined with the muted colour scheme, it works well in reducing the instances of edge-aliasing.

The latest Alan Wake trailer, complete with Digital Foundry technical analysis.

On the not-so-impressive side, even in this specially prepared showcase video there is some low resolution geometry, and the texture filtering sometimes isn't brilliant, but none of this has anywhere near as much impact as the screen tear. Yes, it's exaggerated somewhat owing to the 30FPS nature of the video source (if you need reminding, in such cases, torn frames are on-screen for twice as long as they should be, or they are completely removed), but regardless, clearly it's an issue, so it will be interesting to see how the final game stacks up in comparison.

Overall though, this is an excellent trailer and we're very excited about the game itself. Light as a weapon and a safety net is a neat concept, and it'll be interesting to compare it to Gears of War and its Kryll creatures, and the story elements sound intriguing. And as a kick-off to the expected riches of gamescom, this presentation will do quite nicely...

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