Oddworld Stranger's Wrath Xbox
by EA Games
Developed by Oddworld Inhabitants
Release Date: Out Now
Oddworld Stranger's Wrath, an introduction.
The Oddworld games have long been a favourite amongst gamers. The early games in the series appeared on the PlayStation console and Oddworld Munch's Oddysee was a successful launch title for the Microsoft Xbox. The games in the series so far have been a unique blend of platforming with a decent sprinkling of puzzles. Oddworld Stranger's Wrath adds a FPS element to the game and it makes for a different feel. This may seem like a peculiar design choice from the developers but it's a decision that has paid off very nicely and the game even has the potential to appeal to gamers who didn't like the previous games in the series.
What's the game about?
Essentially the game begins as a mixed Oddworld/Wild Western flavoured experience with you playing as Stranger, the bounty hunter. Stranger is attempting to claim as many bounties as he can to save up enough cash to afford an operation (the operation itself leads to a nice twist in the game). Stranger is not your typical bounty hunter though and has some rather unique weapons. The game successfully combines FPS and platform game elements in a way that's never been done before. The game is a single-player only experience with no multiplayer element in the game.
What's good about the game?
If playing as a bounty hunter wasn't good enough, you also get to use live ammo. You have an assortment of little critters that can be caught and fired from your crossbow. Critters such as Chippunks, Zappflies and Bolamites are fired as ammo and each of these critters has different effects on your enemies. Naturally with your ammo being of the live variety (even though it's live it can be upgraded), you'll have to catch it yourself and this adds a welcome twist to the game formula. Stranger's Wrath allows you to play the game in the first and third-person. When carrying out the platforming actions such as jumping and climbing (and generally moving about of course) you'll prefer to use the third-person view and this view is also preferable for carrying out spin attacks. When you capture the enemies (in order to collect the bounty on them), you'll also switch to the third-person view. When you're firing your live ammo though you'll want to use the first-person view and it's great to see that you can move around in this view. In fact the game actually feels like a quality FPS in the first-person view and the developers have done a great job of making both the first-person and third-person views feel very good and blend so well. The game isn't exactly a linear affair either as you can choose which bounties to pursue. You can save anywhere you like too and a quicksave feature has also been included. Such a friendly save system helps to prevent the game from becoming frustrating.
What's not so good about the game?
The real disappointment with Oddworld Stranger's Wrath is its lack of subtitles (mentioned below). Apart from being a diluted experience for deaf gamers though there isn't much else to complain about. Some fans of the Oddworld series might take a dislike to the FPS elements that are in the game (if they don't like the genre of course) but in all honesty the game feels more enjoyable than Munch's Oddysee.
How does it look?
Graphically Oddworld Stranger's Wrath pushes the graphical abilities of the Xbox and looks very good. It's no surprise that the game appears to have been cancelled for the PlayStation 2 as it's doubtful the game would have looked or performed as well. The developers deserve praise for not only the look of the environments but also Stranger and other characters within the game. Even your live ammo looks nicely detailed as it sits in your crossbow waiting to be fired. Loading screens have been kept to a minimum and the game seems to run rather smooth thanks to a solid frame rate.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Disappointingly Oddworld Stranger's Wrath is not ideal for deaf gamers. There's no option to enable subtitles and you'll find that the game's cutscenes and numerous items of speech are not subtitled. Throughout the game you can converse with town inhabitants and none of these conversations are subtitled. It's a small consolation that the tutorial messages are shown in text but at least you'll know how to control Stranger and perform the various actions. Your objectives can be recalled at any time by pressing the back button which is of some help. You are notified in text if Stranger is hidden or has been spotted which is helpful when you are closing in on a target, which is a nice touch. It is a shame that you'll be unaware of the conversations and comments that take place though and it does take quite a bit away from the experience.
Oddworld Stranger's Wrath is another enjoyable game from Oddworld Inhabitants and the chances are that if you liked their previous games, you'll appreciate what this game has to offer. You have to admire the way the developers have changed what was a successful formula in quite a significant way and yet have still managed to turn out a very enjoyable game. That said it's very disappointing that the game isn't subtitled and for this reason alone it's probably wise to rent the game first to make sure you can put up with missing out on the game's dialogue.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
All in all it's a great Oddworld game and it's a brilliant mix of FPS and platform game elements. There are some disappointing omissions for deaf gamers though.