Alone in the Dark

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Alone in the Dark

Way back when the graphic adventure genre was relatively new and ruled by games such as the King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry series, the concept of a survival horror game was an untouched subject area.  There were games using a haunted house motif, such as Poltergeist, released in 1982 for the Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer orUninvited, Infocom’s graphical text adventure released in 1986, but the game that set the gold bar standard and helped to inspire the flourishing of the entire subgenre was Infogrames’ 1992 classic PC game, Alone in the Dark.

alone in the dark box art
Box front for Alone in the Dark (1992)

Alone in the Dark was set in the late 1920′s, with gamers assuming the role of either private detective Edward Carnby or young heiress Emily Hartwood, who enter the sprawling Louisiana mansion, “Delcarto” in search of a piano supposedly stored in the attic.  The house is reputed to be haunted, and it’s last owner, Ms. Hartwood’s uncle Jeremy, committed suicide in highly unusual circumstances.  If that’s not creepy enough, after the player enters the mansion, the front doors slam shut without any help from mortal hands.  Like any good actor in a teenage slasher flick, Edward (or Emily, depending on who the player chose), heads up the stairs to find the attic.  And once they reach the attic, the game begins.

alone in the dark 3do
Alone in the Dark for Panasonic 3D0

Alone in the Dark is a game that dabbles in the  Cthulhu mythos.  The horrific situations found within the game display their Cthulhulian influence, and even the mansion is discovered to be actually named after Shub-Niggurath, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young.  However, the creatures that Edward and Emily encounter are more standard fare (and are a mixed bag when it comes to frightening appearance), and do not possess the mind and world-shattering power of Lovecraftian monsters.

alone in the dark
Cthulhu references in Alone in the Dark (1992)

The atmosphere is aided by both creepy sound effects and a well-thought out musical score.  For example floorboards creak as they’re walked on, and the character’s footsteps echo through the room as an eerie reminder that you’re the only human in the house.  The music switches to a more aggressive melody when creatures appear, and returns to a sombre melody when they’ve been dispatched.  I still have great gaming memories of hearing the strains of Strauss’ The Beautiful Blue Danube in the ballroom (you could put records in the phonograph there and see what happens).

alone in the dark gameplay
Exploring the attic in Alone in the Dark

Some people say that Alone in the Dark was the very first PC survival horror PC game using the Cthulhu Mythos as a theme, but most forget that there was another game published within the same time period that can also lay claim to that title.  MicroProse published Magnetic Scrolls’ The Legacy: Realm of Terror in 1992, a game that was set in a haunted mansion, with bizarre Cthulhulian creatures to overcome.  The two had similar concepts, but of the two, Alone in the Dark was the better game, so usually gets all the credit.

alone in the dark legacy box cover
Box front for The Legacy: Realm of Terror

The game used a different style of graphic engine than gamers were used to.  2-D polygons (colored, not textured) were used to render 3-D objects in real-time, with very quick responses to whatever action the player attempted.  These 3-D objects were then placed against standard pre-rendered backgrounds.  The result was an impressive illusion that the entire game world was being rendered in three-dimensions.  It also permitted unusual camera angles that could be quickly switched from one perspective to another on the fly, which is what Alone in the Dark is usually remembered for by those who played it.

alone in the dark gameplay
Under attack in Alone in the Dark

Alone in the Dark did very well for Infogrames, and was released on multiple platforms, including MS-DOS in 1992, the NEC -PC9801 system in 1993, and the Panasonic 3D0 and Apple Macintosh systems in 1994. (It was also scheduled to be ported over to the Atari Jaguar system, but, alas, that project was canceled.)  Its success resulted in a number of sequels, including Alone in the Dark 2 (released in 1993, and featuring another haunted mansion), and Alone in the Dark 3 (released in 1994 and sending the player to the Old West).  The franchise was rebooted in 2001 with Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, where the player got to explore an entire island, and again in 2008, with Alone in the Dark, taking the series to the modern age.

alone in the dark inventory screenshot
Inventory management in Alone in the Dark

The success of the original Alone in the Dark franchise gave the entire survival horror graphic adventure genre its birth. In fact, every time you start up a game of Left4 Dead 2, give thanks to the developers of the granddaddy of them all, Alone in the Dark!

Alone in the Dark HD Remake?

Alone in the Dark

Alone in the Dark HD Remake?

According to Joystiq designer Frédérick Rayna said at the Game Developers Conference that he would support an HD remake of the original Alone in the Dark. Now we haven’t seen or heard anything since the 2008 reboot, but the question is would a remake capture the awesomeness of the 1992 original?

Well before even considering that there might be a problem with the rights to the series because it is not clear who owns the rights to Alone in the Dark though it might be in the hand of Infogrames. Also consider that besides graphics the gameplay would most likely need to be redone. So what do you think, would you be interested in a remake?

The Interview: Nelson Gonzalez

Nelson Gonzalez, co-founder of Alienware Corporation,

Nelson Gonzalez

Is a gamer born or does it happen over time? What makes one’s idea die on the cutting room floor while the other turns into a blockbuster? Gamers and those within the culture are as diverse as America itself, but we all share similarities. When entering the PC gaming world one has to know the layout, where it came from and where it is going. We can look at the background of some of these pioneers and learn from them and if nothing else enjoy a good story.

Obsolete Gamer has had a chance to interview quite a few from the Alienware and Dell family including Alex Aguila and Arthur Lewis and we were excited when we had a chance to sit down with co-founder of Alienware, Nelson Gonzalez.

 

Can you tell us about what got you into gaming?

 

It was all about the arcade baby! The arcade was the catalyst to my immersion in those virtual worlds. Aside from video games, playing games from an early age was in our DNA. Everybody in the neighborhood was hyper competitive and we played basketball, football, chess, wargames, boardgames and of course…dungeons and dragons! We loved every aspect of gaming and competition.

 

What were some of your favorite games growing up?

 

Too many. I’m pretty old, but I will mention some of the PC games which is probably what you might be interested in:

Civilization, Privateer, Myst, Falcon, X-Com, Alone in the Dark, Red Baron, Pirates, Star Wars TIE/XWing, Aces over Europe/Pacific, Mech Warrior, SimCity, Doom, Quake, Wing Commander Series, Might and Magic Series, Unreal Tournament, Dawn of War, COD Series, Medal of Honor Series

 

Now as far as Alienware part of the name and style of the brand came from your love of science fiction?

 

Absolutely. I grew up watching great SciFi and Horror flicks. Star Trek, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Invaders, UFO, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, The Time Tunnel, Lost in Space and of course, the X Files to name some of the TV shows. The movie list would be too long to detail. Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still (original), Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars would be a glimpse into my list though.

 

Alex Aguila and Nelson Gonzalez - Alienware

You and Alex Aguila were friends from an early age correct?

 

Yes, I met Alex when I was 10 or so. 35 + years…way too long! Arthur Lewis which now runs Alienware, has also been a friend since I was like 16. Hector Penton from Origin PC I’ve also known for 30 + years.

We are all big-time gamers.

 

What type of PC games do you and Alex use to play?

 

Right now I think both of us are on sabbatical. We are playing intense Warhammer 40K and its consuming quite a bit of our time. Alex plays a ruthless Space Marine Blood Angel. Hector is a brother of the Hivefleet Leviathan and my path is that of the Eldar.

 

Did you have any rivalries game wise with Alex?

 

Absolutely. Falcon 3.0 comes to mind. Quake 2 was also an immersive bloodbath 🙂

 

What was your first PC?

 

An XT 286 I believe.

 

You also began building PC’s at a young age can you tell us about that?

 

I started building PC’s with 80386 Intel processors with clock speeds of 12MHz…LOL. Then we moved up to 486’s w/VESA bus video cards. Then came Pentium processors and 3D graphic cards (gaming nirvana). The dawn of 3D games such as Castle Wolfenstein and DOOM really hooked us all. I was forced to become the technician of the group so we can play all these games. We played most of those games in DOS and they required some tinkering such as creating boot disks with Autoexec.bat and config.sys files for specific games . Ah… the good ol’ days.

 

Before Alienware you created your own PC building company, can you tell us about that?

 

Well I thought that I could build PC’s locally in South Florida, but soon realized that wasn’t my cup of tea. I really liked high performance and squeezing every bit of juice out of a PC. Building standard PC’s for business’s just didn’t satisfy me. I always felt that if we did something that was specific for the gamers just like us, we could survive as a business.

 

Nelson Gonzalez - Alienware

How did the beginning of Alienware come about?

 

I was with a friend of mine (who happens to be Hector Penton’s brother) in my kitchen one day and I pitched him the idea of custom building PC’s for gamers like us. I asked him what he felt about the name Alienware and he said it sounded pretty cool. At that point it just felt right. I immediately called Alex and asked him if he would join me in this new adventure. I told him that he needed to quit his job, give me like $5K and come to work immediately. To his credit he said yes without hesitation. The funny thing is that we weren’t really speaking to each other at that time and  I can only imagine the conversation he had with the wife that night. 🙂

 

What was the first few months like running Alienware?

 

Boy it was very intense. At times we nervously laughed and secretly prayed 🙂 We had no money, no resources, but somehow we felt confident. We knew if we ‘built it’, they would come. PC Gaming was in its infancy and we had experienced how addictive it really was. We knew we were on to something, but we just didn’t to what extent.

 

What would be one of your favorite moments while at Alienware?

 

There were so many, but that first PC Gamer ’98 Area 51 review written by Gary Whitta was one of those rare moments were I felt validated.

The first online order.

When we hit one million in revenue.

When we reached 100 employees.

When we had Michael Dell visit us at Alienware.

When we sold the company to Dell.

 

Do you have a funny story about Alienware you can share with us?

 

Alex telling me that “no one would order an expensive custom PC online” and then we get 3 orders the first day 🙂

 

How did it feel to see Alienware become so big?

 

Crazy. I knew we wouldn’t have to work for anyone else if we did our ‘thing’ and we performed well. I also felt that if we bent over backwards for the customer and treated our employees like we’d like to be treated, we would be OK. I never imagined it becoming so wildly successful.

 

What was it like during the acquisition by Dell?

 

Awesome. I think Michael really understood us and because we had such a synergistic model, the transition was good and the acquisition made sense.

 

What type of PC do you play games on now?

 

Alienware Aurora i7 3.2GHz

2 X ATI Radeon 5800’s

Win 7 64-bit

 

Do you play console games?

 

No not really. I’ll load up Heavenly Sword or Gran Turismo every once in a while for shits and giggles.

 

What PC games are you currently playing?

 

I was playing DC Universe online, but stopped, we all started playing 40K. I am getting ready for SWTOR and maybe, just maybe Duke Nukem…finally?

 

What would you say your favorite classic game(s) is?

 

If I had to pick one, it would have to be Civilization. Wow… did I burn out on that one.

My second would have to be XCOM. Classic arcade would have to be Joust and Lunar Lander.

 

Alan Wake

Alan Wake logo
Alan Wake logo

A new series here at Obsolete Gamer where we hope to spark comments and debate on a wide arrange of topics. Various writers from Obsolete Gamer will give you their take (opinion) on a subject and we hope you will weigh in even if you completely disagree with us.

Alan Wake is a survival horror game that attempts to mix in more of the serialized television feel to its game. What this means is the game also plays like episodic television in which each level beings an episode.  Besides the action or important parts of the game you will also have some areas where you just walk around doing mundane tasks and it does add to the “show” feel more than if they were just cut-scenes.

You play as Alan Wake a famous writer that while on vacation in a small-town called Bright Falls is thrown into a mystery and a horror story involving his wife, his past and present works and a creepy town history that can give Silent Hill a run for its money.

The game itself has the feel of a Silent Hill as you are just a normal guy who all of a sudden has to go all Alone in the Dark, carrying a flashlight to fight of shadow monsters called “Taken” you also become proficient in hand guns, shotguns, hunting rifles, flash bangs, flares, flare guns and the use of batteries.

Now there have been tons of reviews on the game so I won’t go to much deeper into that aspect. Here is my take and there may be some spoilers so you are forewarned.

J.A.’s Take:

The game is well done, let me start with that. Sure, there are some clipping issues sometimes and the camera can spin you in an awkward direction and there are a few other tidbits, but I can deal with that. One of the problems I had was the game was too easy in one respect and then difficult in another. If you have ever played any third person game like a Silent Hill or Resident Evil then the normal difficulty with be a joke. Pretty much you will never run out of ammo except one very small part of the game and you can kill almost anything with the handgun alone.

Speaking of ammo, one thing that pissed me off about Alan Wake is the need to always find a way to make you lose your weapons and gear. Again, in the normal difficulty you will always have enough weapons and batteries, but almost every time you finish an “action” area you fall or trip or donate your weapons to Toys for Tots and you start the next “action” area with almost nothing.

If you play like me, in a survival horror game some of the keys to winning is to conserve ammo and run from a good number of your enemies, but in Alan Wake if you conserve ammo you just end up wasting it. As for running from enemies, unless you are near a strong light source it is a waste of time because many enemies can just appear behind you or they run super-fast and as a writer you have never hit the gym so you can’t sprint very long.

Speaking of running, let’s take a break and talk about puppies. What, you don’t want to talk about puppies in the middle of an Alan Wake rant? Too bad because my puppy rant might contain useful information about Alan Wake, but you have to listen for up to ten minutes or no achievement for you.

In a nutshell that is how I view the watching of the Night Springs television show that you can watch in game. Night Springs is a Twilight Zone rip-off show that you can watch on many of the televisions in game. The problem is twofold. One, for the most part you don’t need to watch the Night Sprints shows for anything other than an achievement.  Two, when you are being chased down and are in the middle of intense action it makes no sense to spend up to ten minutes watching a badly made in game show that does nothing for you. The same applies for the radio. Sure, the radio show gives you some current information and town info, but again, it is long and doesn’t really help you in the game and takes you out of the moment.

Another take you out of the moment comes from chasing down manuscript pages. Now to be fair, this is part of the story and the more you collect the more you understand about what is happening to you and even what will happen. The problem is in most of the action sequences you need to keep moving. When you are being chased by the cops and the taken at the same time it is just silly to stop and search that mountain in the distance for a book page. Also, if you miss some pages it can be really hard to understand what you are reading and it doesn’t help you that much really.

How about some coffee? Writers love coffee and there are 100 coffee thermos’s throughout the game you find just for an achievement, but again, it takes you out of the action and does nothing for you. I will admit sometimes it was cool to grab some coffee while shooting a taken in the face, but when you need to run and gun it just kills the mood to go foraging for your Starbucks coffee carrying device.

As for the story, you will either love it or hate it and don’t expect the ending to wrap everything up nicely. In the age of downloadable content the idea is to extend the story by making you shell out points (money) to buy more episodes until Alan Wake 2 comes out.

Alan Wake the signal
Alan Wake the signal

Bottom Line

I would not have purchased this game personally, this is a rental. I could have beaten this game in a day and playing on nightmare mode is only for achievements. If you play on Normal and have ever played any shooting or survival horror game you will be bored as the monsters are easy to kill, you have to much ammo and the only way they can even hit you is to sneak up on you from behind and try to surround you gangbang style.

The story was meh and I am not paying for your DLC to finish a story you should have in the first place. I care about story and history and this and that, but in a run and gun game I don’t want to watch television shows, listen to down home radio or read about how the great red oak tree was hit by lighting in 1834.

Alan Wake is like playing an Outer Limits episode, but not a very good one. Take Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark and that Darkness game put it together and you still have a game that will put you to sleep not keep you A.Wake.

So that’s my take, what’s yours?

The Interview: Chris Tremmel

Boogerman game
Boogerman game

Chris Tremmel

There are thousands of great games across all platforms that we as gamers have enjoyed for many years of our lives, but what about the people behind them. Just as there are fans of games there are the game makers themselves who weave a concept into code to be displayed on your system of choice. Many times the idea that became the mega-hit game of the year came to the developer or designer in the middle of the night, but from there it was many sleepless nights to turn that vision into reality.

One of Obsolete Gamer’s main purposes is to get the story behind the game and we do this by speaking with the designers, developers and publishers who helped bring us oh so many hours of enjoyment. Sometimes it begins with a gamer profile where we just find out a game they like and from there a dialog starts and soon you find out all kinds of wonderful information.

This is what happened with our gamer profile of Chris Tremmel. I discovered him through his clothing store, Gamer Cultoure and when he submitted his gamer profile with the game BoogerMan I wanted to find out why he liked that game and what I found out was he was one of the main creators of it. After that I had to learn more and Chris was very accommodating in answering our questions.

Gamer Cultoure logo
Gamer Cultoure logo

Obsolete Gamer: Let’s start with a little history, what was it that got you into gaming and working in the gaming industry?

Chris Tremmel: When I was a kid, my parents hooked me up with a Texas Instruments\99-4A computer. I was already a gamer thanks to PONG, and the AT2600, but the TI-99 allowed me to begin making my own games! I think I started with “porting” my choose your own adventure books into interactive form. 🙂

Obsolete Gamer: When did you begin working at Interplay?

Chris Tremmel: I officially started working at Interplay in 1992 I believe. It’s funny because I first interviewed for a tester spot. I didn’t get the job because my “autoexec.bat, and config.sys” knowledge was a bit rusty. I went home, studied up, and returned for a 2nd interview a month or two later. This time I got the job. The 1st games I tested were the original Alone in the Dark on PC, and the Lost Vikings on the Amiga.

Obsolete Gamer: Who else did you work with primarily at Interplay?

Chris Tremmel: I initially worked in the testing department but quickly made friends with a couple of designers and producers, primarily Mike Stragey and Alan Pavlish.

Obsolete Gamer: What was it like working for them?

Chris Tremmel: I hate to sound really cliche’, but working at Interplay in 1992\1993 was “magical”. I was in awe of everything being made and was thrown right in to working with some of the brightest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with. It was an amazing time as I was being taught my core design fundamentals by great guys like Mike and Alan. I knew this is what I wanted to do forever.

Obsolete Gamer: When did you first start working on Boogerman?

Chris Tremmel: I believe we started Boogerman in early 1993? It’s hard to remember exactly.

Obsolete Gamer: Who else worked with you on Boogerman?

Chris Tremmel: My boss, and the man that hired me out of test Michael Stragey. 🙂 Also Alan Pavlish was the executive producer who we would run stuff by on a regular basis. We also worked with an external animation house called Little Gangster, as well as some in-house artists, and additional programming support, but primarily it was Mike and myself.

Obsolete Gamer: How did you come up with the concept and story behind Boogerman?

Chris Tremmel: Interplay came to Mike and said “we want to make a gross-out game that appeals to the Garbage Pail Kids demographic.”

Interplay logo
Interplay logo

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us a little bit about the development process?

Chris Tremmel: Conceptually we knew we wanted to make a “gross” game. Mike came up with the idea of a gross Superhero and off we went! The ideas just starting pouring out from Michael and myself, I would say we were never short of ideas for characters, locations, etc.

As for the design of the characters, we worked very closely with Little Gangster and went through dozens of designs until we finally settled on what you see today. Funny enough, several of the bosses in the game including the main boss BoogerMiester were originally design concepts for Boogerman himself.

Obsolete Gamer: When Boogerman was ready to launch did you believe you had a hit on your hands?

Chris Tremmel: Ya know, this is a weird thing… I was so new to the industry and so excited and stoked every day to be making games that I never really thought about “hits”. We knew we had something fun, and we knew people responded to the content the way we wanted, so that was enough for me. I still remember our very 1st magazine preview EVER. It was in Diehard Gamefan, they dubbed it an “instant classic”, we were happy.

Now some gaming sites and magazines game you high marks while others gave you more middle of the road scores. Do you think they just didn’t get it or what was the disconnect?

I think we were pretty happy with the reviews. We had some serious competition that year with Earthworm Jim being released at the same time. I think Boogerman got the scores it deserved, it was a good game, just not everyones cup of tea.

Obsolete Gamer: What was your feeling about winning the grossest character of 1994 award from Electronic Gaming monthly?

Chris Tremmel: Honored for sure. The entire Boogerman universe is still very close to our hearts to this day (Mike and myself). I still believe the franchise has a lot of potential.

Obsolete Gamer: Was there a plan to make more Boogerman related games?

Chris Tremmel: Yes, absolutely. AND a cartoon. The cartoon was actually started, at least script writing, character design, etc. but I believe in the end Universal went with the Earthworm Jim cartoon that was in development at the same time. Which btw, I am a massive EWJ fan and I loved loved loved the cartoon.

There were clocks made, t-shirts, and even a Boogerman phone. In addition we DID start the sequel on the Sega Saturn. We had a basic design document done and had contracted some amazing matte painters to start working on backgrounds. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition. Michael and myself left Interplay to pursue work with another company, I think we both wish Boogerman 2 could have been made. We had some really fun ideas.

Obsolete Gamer: How was it to see Boogerman released for the virtual console in 2008?

Chris Tremmel: Neither Mike or myself were involved in this. I believe this happened after Interplay changed hands. We were incredibly happy to see it up there though, downloaded it immediately!

Obsolete Gamer: Did you play Boogerman a lot yourself and do you still play it today?

Chris Tremmel: Absolutely! Mike and I both played all the time while making the game, AND after the game was released. Out of all the games I have made, this one probably got played the most. I definitely still bust it out once or twice a year. I like looking back and try to figure out what the heck I was thinking with a particular layout, or just to laugh at some of the character designs. Lot’s of laughing during the development.

Obsolete Gamer: After Boogerman what came next for you?

Chris Tremmel: Mike and I left Interplay to make a game for EA based on a Saturday morning TV show called “Bump in the Night”. Unfortunately this game was never finished\released, although we did have a rad demo running on the Saturn. I ended up at Virgin Interactive after that working on the N64.

Gamer Cultoure dog tag
Gamer Cultoure dog tag

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us a little about Gamer Cultoure?

Chris Tremmel: Sure! Gamer Cultoure is a side project I have started that is clothing centric. It’s really a basic line of T-shirts, hoodies, etc. that are gaming themed. The line is really small right now, but I intend to continue to grow it over the next year or two. After leaving Activision early in the year I decided to take a little time off and try something different for a little while. It has been a fun, rewarding process for sure.

Obsolete Gamer: What do you think of gaming today in comparison to gaming back in the early to mid nineties?

Chris Tremmel: Oh no, this is a loaded question. 🙂 It is definitely different. The process has become more complicated, usually requiring a large number of people to make something significant. The money involved in some of the triple A games is staggering with some budgets now reaching 100 million dollars. That naturally changes everything in terms of peoples priorities, and agendas. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. One of the nice things though as of late is seeing the rise of the “indie” studios, small teams executing on great ideas. It is very easy to get distracted now a days when making something. The bar has been raised so high, and with so much money involved it takes some serious planet-aligning powers to take something killer to market. All of that being said, I hope the younger guys and girls that are in the industry today feel the same sense of magic that I felt in 1992.

Obsolete Gamer: Are you working on any video games at the moment?

Chris Tremmel: As of right this second, no. Expect that to change very soon. I will definitely keep you posted any news. 🙂

I quickly wanted to give a shout out to all the people I worked with at Interplay. Thanks Mike, Alan, Brian, Rusty, Tim, Burger, Kerry, and way too many more to list. All of you guys helped me get started on this amazing journey and I appreciate it to this day.

Obsolete Gamer would like to thank Chris Tremmel for taking the time to answer our questions.

Games Coming Out May 2010 For Consoles

Coming Soon sign
Coming Soon sign

May can bring many things, flowers, a step closer to summer break and your girlfriend getting the marriage itch. Let’s focus on games being released for consoles, after all, if you don’t get your girl flowers and marry her you will be spending your summer break alone.

Iron Man 2 (May 2nd)

The two is for double the action as you can select Iron Man or War Machine. Some of the major changes in the game are centered around Iron Man’s suit. In part 2 your suit A.I. (Jarvis) will automatically switch between power modes. For example, when you are flying more power will be given to boosters and when walking your weapons and shields will have more power. In addition the game has a lot more detail, Iron Man can destroy multiple parts of buildings and the environment before it comes crashing down. Finally the bosses are bigger than ever giving you a true comic book fighting experience. Overall, IM2 looks to be a great improvement over the first one.

Lost Planet 2 (May 9th)

It’s summertime on the Lost Planet, in part two of this shooter you move away from the ice and snow of part one and find yourself in a lush tropical paradise, well, maybe not a paradise unless you call being surrounded by huge hulking monsters and killer lizards paradise.

One of the coolest things about LP2 is the new four player co-op, now you and four of your buddies can venture out together to take down your enemies. Team work is key because you can kill each other with your weapons and general splash damage, but together you can also lay some real hurt on the local inhabitants.

In the co-op mode you have your own life bar and a team life bar. When you die you can spawn at specific points and rejoin your team, but as your time members die the team life bar drops as well. When the team life bar is empty its game over.

Lost Planet 2 has kept everything that the fans liked in the game including the various weapons, mech suits and vehicles. The grapple is still in the game and even more useful than ever as you can use it to climb on to the large bosses and ride them to death.

Alan Wake (May 16th)

Alan Wake is an adventure/horror/thriller/action game. The game looks and plays very much like a television series complete with recaps and cliffhangers between levels or “episodes”. In Alan Wake you play a struggling writer who takes a trip to the country with his wife (can you already see where this is heading?) His wife disappears and Alan begins his search for her believing she is being held for ransom.

Soon Alan discovers this sleepy little town is engulfed in an evil “darkness” that can not only posses anything it comes in contact with, but it can manifest itself into various shapes and creatures. For the most part the name of the game is to stay in the light. Light is not only used for protection, but offense as well as that is the only thing that hurts the darkness. However, you are not just running from shadows, as the body count rises the police will show up to investigate and guess who they will want to question first?

This game looks pretty cool and if you liked games like Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and Alone in the Dark then this is definitely a title to pick up.

[added by Honorabili] Red Dead Redemption, May 18th

This game looks like a much more modern and epic version of Gun, one of my favorite western games, ever. Hopefully it will also have the same kind of level of action and in-depth storyline, and incredible soundtrack.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (May 23rd)

If you suffer from vertigo this game will kill you, in Super Mario Galaxy 2 Mario continues his planetary tour with his pal Yoshi and this time you can control his tongue and inhale pretty much anything in sight. A brand new move available to our favorite plumber is his drill that allows him to dig into and through planets to collect coins and traverse from one side to the other.

Now of course all the puzzles, jumps and characters are still there and the visuals are still as colorful and vibrant as ever. Simply put if you are a Mario fan you need to pick up this title.

So there you have it, there are more games being released in May but these are the ones we are most interested in. Feel a game should be on the list, let us know.