XBOX REVIEW: ODDWORLD STRANGER'S WRATH

Oddworld Stranger's Wrath explores a new dimension in the Oddworld universe. Rather than see the series stagnate, the developers have opted for a fresh style of gameplay that, oddly enough, fits in perfectly with the quirky creatures that comprise Oddworld.

The best way I could describe Oddworld would be to imagine the Muppets on a blend of crack and LSD. They look bizarre, they act bizarre but yet they're almost loveable. The characters all have a highly developed sense of self in addition to a warped sense of humor. I could just spend an entire day just watching the antics of these guys if they had their own TV show.

With less of a focus on puzzles and strategy, Stranger's Wrath takes us into the world of the first-person shooter. With a decidedly Old West theme, a variety of gameplay elements support the FPS genre and help to keep it fresh and entertaining. There are elements of platforming, puzzles and combat that occur throughout the game making it difficult to pigeonhole the game in any one specific genre category. We'll just call it an action adventure game.

Stranger is the title character. He's a rough and tough bounty hunter looking to bring bad guys to justice just for the money. He seems even more capable of evil than those he hunts down. Stranger needs money for his operation, although we are kept in the dark about exactly what kind of operation he needs - or wants. Suffice to say that the story takes enough strange plot twists and turns to keep interested in further developments.

Moving from town to town you will encounter various characters that you can interact with. Sometimes you'll get directions and sometimes you'll get valuable information on situation developments. Oftentimes you'll get some wise-ass wisecracks that are bound to cause the odd guffaw. A race of diminuative freaks called the Clakkerz are more than happy to interact with you. If you're good to them they'll follow you all over the place, chatting up a storm and giving you all kinds of information about your next objective. If you're not in a particularly good mood you can lash out at these creatures to relieve your frustrations. You can also relieve them of your money if you so desire. Instead of following you around, the Clakkerz will avoid you and razz you at every given opportunity. They'll also pass the word on to the next town that you're a bit of a bastard.

General stores and Bounty stores are other things you'll find in town. Here you can purchase weapons and ammo as well as get information on your next mission. Each town is different. There are different characters to interact with and different gameplay elements to mess with. Bosses will present themselves in each town. When you defeat one, a new path will open up that makes backtracking unnecessary. The boss battles are a lot of fun but they are tough. There are more layers to these battles than most boss fights which means you'll be busy shooting, jumping around platforms and solving puzzles all at the same time. Don't expect to get through these battles the first time through.

You'll earn more money if you can take your bounty in alive and to do so you'll have to experiment with "Live ammo" as well as watching the meter carefully. Live ammo is a unique feature. It involves the use of animals and insects that somehow interfere with the enemy to make shooting or capturing him easier. Not all of the Live Ammos are useful in boss battles but they are fun to watch and you'll want to use all of them at least once.

As with all Oddworld games, the graphics are incredible. The attention to detail is painstaking with perfectly weather wood, rich rustic colors, dense and varied vegetation and of course the odd and highly imaginative creatures that make up Oddworld. The animation is smooth and fast. Not a slowdown to report. The music perfectly supports each new scene. The voiceacting is equally excellent. Every line is delivered with conviction. Someone was taking this seriously and it shows.

If you're going to do something right, do it to the best of your abilities. That's exactly what Oddworld Inhabitants did. There are no mini-games included with Stranger's Wrath. There are no extra single-player, co-op or multi-player modes. Instead, you get one solid, lengthy game that is darn near perfection personified. Who would dare ask for more?

Preview by Chris
Fans of the series Oddworld will get a chance to play in the days of the old Wild West when this new game hits store shelves. A new adventure and all new characters will be introduced. It will be a mix of a FPS and a third-person adventure. For those fans expecting to see Abe or Munch, unfortunately, you will be disappointed, because they will not be in the game. The game was going to be released on both the PS2 and Xbox systems. However, due to some development problems, it is now going to be an Xbox exclusive.

Stranger will take players in a new direction with lots of action and adventure. Players are sure to find the same twisted humor as in other games in the series. It also seems gamers will take on the role of a bounty hunter. The goal will be to hunt down those wanted and collect the bounty. The gameplay will switch from a FPS view to a third-person view automatically. It's reported that the game switches modes very smoothly.

While details are not yet known, the game has received plenty of attention from those who have played the almost completed version. It was said that they wanted to take the Oddworld universe in a new direction and let gamers experience new characters. From the screen shots it looks like they have succeeded. Take a look at the screen shots and you will get a feel of the new world that awaits fans this January. Of course we will update the preview with all the details and game info as soon as more information is released.

Preview By Vaughn

The Oddworld series is getting....odder, for lack of better grammar. In a veritable state of limbo, the continuation to the "Oddysee" last seen on Xbox is finally in development and will be coming to Xbox and PS2 sometime in the future. Featuring a decidely darker tone than previous titles, the protagonist of this game is The Stranger, a dark brooding bouny hunter who tends to make the inhabitants of Oddworld his particular choice of weapon.

Much more than just another action title, players will go on an emotional journey with the Stranger as he comes to terms with who he is as the story progresses in his pursuit for the ultimate bounty. In case you're thinking "Chick Movie", just hold on a sec. The game will feature first person and third person elements, which naturally means you'll get to blow stuff up.

“Partnering with EA is a major win for us. Through EA’s first-rate publishing and marketing expertise, the expanded universe of Oddworld can reach millions of game fans and extend the reach of this distinctive series,” said Lorne Lanning, President of Oddworld Inhabitants.

“Over the past 10 years, Oddworld has consistently elevated the creative bar in each of their titles, providing a rich and engrossing game experience. Oddworld Inhabitants represent the type of high quality developer with which we’re seeking to partner moving forward,” commented Greg Richardson, General Manager of EA Partners.

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System: XBOX
Dev: Oddworld Inhabitants
Pub: EA
Released: Jan 2004
Players: 1
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
5.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
2.0