Oddworld Stranger's Wrath Update

EA and Oddworld Inhabitants give us a fresh look at the upcoming Xbox action game.

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Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath
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We've gotten some good, long looks at Oddworld Inhabitants' Oddworld Stranger's Wrath over the past few months since its debut earlier this year. While the promising third-person action game has been shown off to good effect at various press events, we've only seen a small piece of the unique puzzle that is Oddworld Stranger's Wrath. Today's demo of the title showed that underneath the unusual brand of personality-heavy gameplay elements that are an Oddworld staple along with an obviously impressive action-oriented skew, beats the heart of a wicked shooter. Oddworld mastermind Lorne Lanning gave us a peek at some of the later levels in the game that revealed a surprisingly intense, and ultimately satisfying, shooter that manages to maintain the signature Oddworld humor.

The shooting in Stranger's Wrath gets surprisingly intense later on in the game.
The shooting in Stranger's Wrath gets surprisingly intense later on in the game.

Following the plot twist in the game's rich story, which has been previously hinted at in our other looks at Oddworld Stranger's Wrath, is a significant ramp up in the gameplay. All the mechanics that you've been familiarizing yourself with over the course of the game, such as the stealth, melee, and the hilarious live ammo that's made up of a small zoo's worth of local fauna, are suddenly intensified a few times over.

One of the levels we saw featured Stranger coming up on a settlement that was under siege. Our mysterious antihero essentially does his own one-man Normandy beach landing. With pockets of foes on the beach and in higher spots that afford a painfully clear shot of our boy, the sequence turns into something out of a traditional first-person shooter. What helps set the game apart from the pack, aside from the fact that Stranger's arsenal includes smack-talking chippunks, ravenously cute fuzzles, odiferous stunks, and silk-spinning bolamites, to name just a few, is the ability to switch between third- and first-person perspectives on the fly by simply clicking on the analog stick. Besides offering a wide field of vision, the perspective change gives Stranger access to a new melee attack, the charge, which is extremely useful for taking out foes or simply dodging the plethora of ammo that is aimed straight at him. The ability to toggle between the two views makes for a flexible system that works surprisingly well given how intense the firefights can get.

As far as the presentation goes, Stranger's Wrath's visuals and audio are coming along fine. An all-new graphics engine ensures technically impressive visuals that do a fine job of bringing the rich art style to life and creating a convincing living, breathing world that makes the most of the Xbox hardware. In a nice nod to pacing, you'll now find a good mix of real-time custscenes and high-quality CG movies to move the story along. While the cutscenes will be on hand to move you along over the course of a level, the CG will be on hand to reveal the key plot points that drive the Stranger's story ahead. The audio is chock-full of the amusing voice acting that the Oddworld games are known for. This time out, however, the voice is more than just a collection of chuckle-worthy zingers, as the residents will react to your actions similar to how the town residents in Fable would act based on your behavior. So plan on hearing a lot of smack talk if you happen to knock the locals around. In addition, you'll be treated to a satisfying assortment of sound effects that sell the explosive action you'll find yourself in.

Stranger's Wrath is now less than two months away from release.
Stranger's Wrath is now less than two months away from release.

Based on this updated look, we have to say we're even more excited for Oddworld Stranger's Wrath than we were before. It's nice to see Oddworld's trademark humor paired with what appears to be a very solid action shooter mechanic. Whereas Munch's Oddysee occasionally coasted by on its winning personality when its gameplay proved to be a touch underwhelming, Oddworld Stranger's Wrath appears to be firing on all cylinders. If you're a fan of the Oddworld games, shooters, or simply long to make use of small animals in a combat situation, then Oddworld Stranger's Wrath should be on your radar. The game is currently slated to ship this January for the Xbox. Look for more on it in the coming weeks.

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