Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath

by Angela Simpson
author awarded score: 90/100

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath Review
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Oddworld Inhabitants
Format Reviewed: Xbox
Review by: Angela Simpson

Anyone having played an Oddworld title before will know they’re in for something different and innovative when it comes to the gaming world. Oddworld Stranger's Wrath once more brings imaginative ideas to life by way of its many quirky in game features and full of life characters. The introduction and following cut scenes are something pixar would be proud of, truly breathtaking visuals and brilliant audio brings the world and characters to life. You play ‘Stranger’ a gravelly voiced and rather aslan like bounty who has a mission and no dirt talking outlaw is going to get in his way. I wont give away the story because that would just be bad reviewing, suffice to say it’s clever, deep and will draw you in more than the latest goings on in Wysteria Lane.

oddworld stranger's wrath review

Gameplay is easy going pardner. Stranger is played in a mix of first and third person perspective dependent on what he’s up to at the time. Third person mode is pretty much where all the non shooting, platform action is and it is in this mode that you’ll be walking, running, jumping, climbing and performing melee moves for much of the game. First person is the mode in which the firearm action happens and it is this mode that sees stranger utilise his rather nifty live ammo, double barreled cross bow. Much has been made in the pre release press of the ‘Live Ammo’ aspects of this title and I can tell you that the hype is all true, it’s both an ingenious and hilarious concept that works so well it’s actually rather scary and we’ll be discussing the various aspects of this throughout this review. Controls are easy to get to grips with as it switches between third and first person perspective seamlessly, however I will mention my one gripe with the title is it’s slight camera problems, but it was never really bad enough to warrant real frustration. The in game tutorial level is a doddle and a lot of fun to go through and you’ll learn additional tips along the way.

‘Live Ammo’
As it is one of the major concepts of this title I’m going to give you the lowdown in its own section. Essentially the ammunition in Oddworld: Strangers Wrath consists of various small, living creatures that you load unflinching onto your double barreled crossbow, some of them even enjoy it! Another interesting twist is that you must ‘hunt’ for your ammunition throughout the game. See a small creature bounding along minding its own business… ZZzzapf! Mosey on over and pick that sucker up and save him or her later for taking out something a little bigger and a whole lot meaner. Some of the ammunition is cute, some of it darn right ugly, but each will have its own special place in your heart, be it the skunk styled ‘stunks’ which, when fired cause the enemy to ‘puke’ enabling you time to bounty them, or the returning character of the ‘fuzzle’ that you can either fire directly onto an enemy or set as traps where an enemy will walk, either way the resulting screams and panic of your enemy as they are fuzzled to death is hilarious. All up there are nine types of live ammo to collect (most with upgrades) but I’ll let you find out what they are yourself, after all, it’s more fun that way.

oddworld stranger's wrath review

speaking we should only really need to say ‘this is an oddworld title’ since all prior Oddworld titles have brimmed with graphical delight, needless to say this title is no different and does not disappoint. The intro sequence and cut scenes as previously mentioned are stunning and even cinematic, introducing the player to the world of Stranger in a compelling manner. In game graphics too are beautifully crafted and filled with so much detail that the world, odd though it is springs to life and makes you want to see what lay around that next corner. The Wild West style too is done superbly and if you’re a fan of that genre you wont be disappointed, there are varmints aplenty and dusty streets galore as well as later levels that somehow manage to fuse the old West with something a little more advanced, wonderful stuff. Lighting should get a mention as it too is beautifully done, a couple of tiny glitches here and there did nothing to denigrate this title, in a word, superb.

The audio in Stranger is also of a very high level, sadly for deaf gamer however, much of the in game dialogue is not subtitled, which means they’d miss a lot of the rather amusing tête-à-tête that occurs throughout the game as the outlaws threaten and the townsfolk chat etc. I should point out that all of the in game instructions are however written on screen so the deaf gamer should have no problems there. The voice acting in Stranger is of a very high standard and carries with it that Oddworld sense of quirky characterisation. The gravel voiced Stranger himself has deep guttural tones which suit the physique of a muscular aslan type of creature and it's all done with a stylish Wild West twang. Language within the game does at times border on crass however so younger players beware, the game does carry a teen rating and I’m assuming it is for this reason, though the adult gamer will find it all rather amusing more than anything else, it is the old west after all. Music in the game is gorgeous also, wonderfully orchestrated and adding to the entire feel of the title as does the many sound effects, some of which are so subtle you can tell a lot of effort has gone into it.

oddworld stranger's wrath review

Xbox Live and Multi player
, nope, there’s none, nada, zero, zilch. A shame really as pummeling a friend with fuzzles over live would have been superb fun, but I really can’t bemoan this title for the lack of multi player given the single player game is just so darn good.

The Female Gamer angle is simple enough, there is no lead female character, you play Stranger who is all gravel throated he-creature but that doesn’t detract from the game at all, sure it would always be nice to have the choice between kick ass male lead and kick ass female lead but it rarely happens that way. This title is a gamers dream, any gamer regardless of gender.

Overall Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath is another beautiful title from Oddworld Inhabitants that brings yet more zany characters and beautiful story to an already filled to brimming world of wonder. It’s graphically resplendent with some of the most gorgeous cut scenes and amusing dialogue you’ve come to expect from an Oddworld title. It is these little Oddworld touches that make this game truly something special. The Wild West theme has never been better done on any console, buy it now pardner or die tryin.