Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath
Abe has always known to tickle my senses. That little fellow farted more often than my grandma and he did it with his conscience in full effect. On my orders he made the most incredible sounds a man can squeeze out of his high knee, amazing, isn’t it? Abe however is no more among us. He had to make way for a new hero named Stranger. Does he have the charm to make me forget Abe and his farting habbits?
Stranger’s Wrath takes a completely different approach than his predecessors. Where you had to control an antihero in Abe’s Oddysee/Exodus and Munch’s Odysee you now get to control a true bounty hunter. This fact alone is reason enough for me to answer negatively on my first question. However OSW has more to offer than just a new lead character. The game is a mix between first person shooting and third person platform action. I myself am not a big fan of those combinations. It’s like bisexuals and shower gel and shampoo in one; they always have the tendency to prefer one over the other. I guess it’s just something I’ll have to learn to live with.
When the first bunches of enemies try to sneak up on me I immediately notice the difference between the two camera angles. The first person mode is obviously more action driven while the third person point of view offers more platform gameplay. In first person mode Stranger can operate his crossbow. The cool thing about this weapon is the ability to mix up your own ammo. This ammo is probably the most funny thing you’ll encounter in the world of Oddworld. Throughout each level you can find little cute animals which you can use as ammo. This is a nice diversion to other FPS where you’re always waiting to get a new weapon. In OSW you’ll be switching ammo in stead of weapons. The ammo ranges from cute chipmunks that lure the enemy to aggressive spiders that spin a web around the enemy knocking him unconscious for a while. It’s certainly a good approach by Oddworld Inhabitants but do they get away with the first person thing?
Well, not exactly. Your main goal in the game is catching as much bad guys as possible, dead or alive. They do however tend to give you more Moolah (money in Oddworld) for catching the baddies alive. You can achieve this by first knocking your enemy unconscious as stated above. Finally Stranger will take out some sort of device that sucks the baddie into his little sack. The camera angle however changes when doing so into third person mode, even when you were in first person mode. This can get pretty frustrating in hectic situations as you’ll be switching camera angles and trying to stay alive while doing so. Another disadvantage is the fact that the enemies are pretty good at aiming from a long distance. This is a lot harder to do for yourself which made my Stranger hit the ground a little too often. The times that you’ll be forced to use the third person view are also very rare making this option rather worthless.
The doubting nature of the developers concerning the camera angles is something we can forgive them, but the choices they made when it comes to character design are just unforgivable. It’s pretty clear that the designers have put their inspiration aside while developing these hideous creatures. Who else can come up with the idea to put duck like creatures in the game and give them the role of good guys? The only game that could get away with this was Duck Hunt, and we all know that those irritating ducks weren’t exactly good guys. I thought the message behind Duck Hunt was quite simple, namely; never make a game where ducks are in the shoes of good guys. But hey, some developers tend to ignore those remarks. But don’t come wining if you’re not happy with the score of this review, you kinda asked for it yourselves.
I always liked the characters in previous Oddworld games but these creatures feel like a very low-budget variation to the earlier characters. Luckily the game world looks a lot better. From the rippling water to the blinding lens flares; everything in the Oddworld universe looks colourful and detailed. But the awful character design and sporadic bugs pull down the overall graphical value of the game and make me feel like the developers were in a hurry again.
The sound department is equally disappointing. They tried to give Stranger a low, tough sounding voice but it’s clear that they used some sort of sound filter to achieve this which makes it sound really crappy. The NPC’s are not alone ugly bastards; they also have these irritating Kentucky Fried Chicken accents. And I’m not a big fan of American fast food chains to begin with. Most games these days don’t have problems in the sound department but when they do, it tends to give the whole game a more worthless feel and that can’t be the main goal of a developer when releasing a game.
The biggest minus however is the total lack of an addiction value. Although not all games lead to an addiction, there has to be a certain spark when you first play the game making you want to continue playing. I had a hard time forcing me to play the game thoroughly because it just didn’t make me feel anything. The awful voice-overs, the identity crisis and those damn ducks make me long for good ol’ Abe. I sure hope Oddworld Inhabitants thinks the same about this, so please blow some new life force into our beloved anti hero. Abe for president, again!