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Alone In The Dark 4: The New Nightmare  
The classic survival horror series debuts on PlayStation 2

CarlitoAlone In The Dark started it all. Back in 1992, when Interplay released the first games developed by Infogrames, the survival horror genre was born (even if this classification was only used when the first Resident Evil came out). Resident Evil would have never existed without this masterpiece. For the first Alone In The Dark, the developers were able to create a 3d world using prerendered backgrounds and 3d polygonal characters on machines that were not supposed to have the power to support a game of that type. And the atmosphere was frightening, sinister for the first time, a game was really able to scare the player. The Alone In The Dark games we are now at the fourth instalment had themes that remained unique to the series. First of all, the first instalments took place at the beginning of the XX century; the atmosphere was inspired by the horror novels of Poe and Lovecraft. Resident Evil and its clones are usually oriented towards a science-fiction horror tale.

Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare seems to take a different road from its predecessors. The hero is still called Edward Carnby, but since the game takes place in 2001 he is not the same character of the previous instalments. Then, Infogrames decided to publish the game on nearly any platform available. While the Dreamcast and PsOne's hardware is still relatively compatible in its conception to the one of a PC, the Playstation 2 is a whole different story. That is probably why this Playstation 2 version doesn't make the series any justice.

Gameplay : 6.0

Edward Carnby is a private investigator. One day, his best friend, Charles Fiske, is found dead in an island near the coast of Maine, Shadow Island. Every detail on the island seems to be wrapped in mystery. Carnby immediately decides to start an investigation on Charles' death. He discovers Charles was searching for three ancient Indian tablets in Island on the account of a client, Frederick Johnson. Carnby contacts Johnson and offers to take over the case. He accepts and sends along with Carnby a young professor specializing in Indian Languages, Aline Cedrac.

While flying over Shadow Island, a mysterious creature attacks Carnby's airplane and the pilot is killed. Carnby and Aline succeed in escaping the airplane using two parachutes. Unfortunately, Aline lands over the roof of a mansion, while Carnby lands outside the perimeter of the park around the mansion.

After this story, narrated in the introduction with a mix of FMVs and scenes rendered in real time, you have to choose which one of the two characters you prefer to start with. The developers created for this game two completely different paths, each with different difficulties. Aline starts her adventure on the roof of the mansion, injured, with no weapons. Fortunately, she immediately finds a way to recover her health. Carnby starts the game with a gun and he has to find a way to the house through the park and the sewers. Then, Aline's game is definitely puzzle-oriented, while Carnby's one focuses on action.

I played the PC and PSX versions of the game, before getting my hands on the PlayStation 2 game.The PC and PSX version were both difficult games (as usual for the Alone In The Dark series), but at the same time they were highly enjoyable, also thanks to an extraordinary dark atmosphere. The ideas, the atmosphere is still here, but Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare for PlayStation 2 has some technical limits that make the gaming experience just frustrating. Paradoxically, this PlayStation 2 version seems slower than the one on Psx.

The controls are classic for the genre, but definitely outdated. The game plays like Capcom's Dino Crisis, but the terrifying slowdowns that occur when there are two-three enemies on screen make the concept of controls nearly laughable here. At the beginning of the game I found myself fighting against three dogs at once on the screen. The character started to respond badly to the controls and the framerate dropped drastically; the dogs killed me. I tried again, following the same route, and once again I was killed. I had to find an alternative route in order to encounter no more than two dogs on the same screen in order to proceed in the game. The game supports only 3d controls for your character; in other words, pressing the left or right button in the d-pad will make your character turn left or right; pressing up and down you will walk forward or backwards.

If you are used to adventure titles like Metal Gear Solid 2 or survival horrors supporting the 2d control system (like Silent Hill 2), you'll have more than a problem trying to get used to the controls of Alone In The Dark 4. Adding to that, for some reason, the game doesn't support the use of the Analog Sticks to move your character on the screen.

The prerendered environments designed by the developers are dark, mysterious and create a constant dark atmosphere actually darker than the atmosphere of a Resident Evil game. Anyhow, the exploration is completely ruined by long, really annoying loading times. The game loads for 2-3 seconds just every time there is a change in the camera angle. In other words, not only when you enter a new area, but also when you are moving within the same room. The same problem occurs when you need to access your inventory by pressing the triangle button. The menu doesn't appear immediately, just like it happens in any good adventure title - the game needs to load for a few seconds before you can actually access it.

Also the puzzles disappointed me. The Alone In The Dark series is famous for the difficult puzzles, but this chapter seems to take the (bad) road of Resident Evil: puzzles are always the same thing, find-the-object put-the-object-in-the-right-place, with very few variations.

Overall, uninspired gameplay cursed by the technical limitations of this PlayStation 2 version.

Page 2: Graphics, Sound, Replay Value, and Overall Opinion


Scores
Gameplay
6.0
Graphics
5.5
Sound
8.0
Replay Value
5.5
Overall Score
6.0



Developer
Darkworks
Publisher
Infogrames
Origin
France
Genre
Adventure
Players
1
Peripherals
Dual Shock 2
8MB Memory Card
Release Date
North America
September 24th, 2001
Europe
September 28th, 2001
Sections



Carnby in the sewers.

Aline outside the mansion.

An enemy is going to appear!
More screenshots of Alone In The Dark 4: The New Nightmare



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