There are a few of driving sections, but these are almost entirely dull and seem likely to be leftovers from the days when Alan Wake was going to be an open-world game. The cars handle fine but the engine noises are rubbish and many of the driving bits seem extraneous. At one point you're just driving down an open road, no enemies or other cars in sight, with nothing to do but cruise along and wonder why your truck is making a noise like a bear having a wank.
Despite all this, it's hard not to feel sorry for Alan Wake. (That is to say, Alan Wake the game - it's easy not to feel sorry for Alan Wake the character, with his melodramatic disposition, endless blathering and silly conviction that the best thing to do when your wife goes missing isn't to just call the police.) Remedy has worked hard to produce a polished game, one with impressive visuals and a new take on combat. On those fronts it's succeeded. Had Alan Wake been released three years ago, it would have been easy to recommend the game as a solid, polished action-adventure.
The genre has moved on since then. Games such as BioShock have shown how compelling and original storylines can be told in innovative ways. The likes of Uncharted 2 have offered up not just lush visuals but diverse locations and varied gameplay. With Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream broke the rules of game narrative and forced the player not only to think before pulling the trigger, but to feel.
By comparison, Alan Wake is tired and derivative. Everything about it feels dated, from the linear level design to the red-green switch nonsense to the visual stylings (surely not even J Allard has attempted the hoodie-with-jacket combo since 2005). There are plenty of fancy cut-scenes, dramatic voiceovers and cinematic camera angles, but even when Alan Wake does a good job of pretending to be a film you just feel like you're watching a really bad film. That's particularly true when it comes to the ending - without spoiling anything, let's just say you're left thinking, "You mean I kick-started all those generators for that?"
All the same, there's a weekend's worth of fun here for action-adventure fans who aren't too bothered about innovative concepts and varied gameplay, and don't mind a lot of repetition. Alan Wake is an accessible, undemanding game with a neat combat mechanic and decent visuals. It's just not a very original game, it's certainly not an exceptional one, and it's a shame it wasn't ready a few years ago.