Well, it’s been a while, but we now have a new Oddworld game to play through. Ok, ok…not actually new, but a HD spit and polish of the 2005 game, originally released on the Xbox. It was a classic game that was criminally overlooked at the time, and not a great deal of people ever played it. Now it’s back, with the team at Just Add Water taking the helm of future Oddworld titles and this HD remake if the first of many more Oddworld titles to come. For those people that played it the game is held in very high regard. So, is it worth downloading, or is it better left as a fond memory? Read on, my friend….
Like a Clint Eastwood film, a stranger arrives in town. No-one knows who he is, or what he wants, but he’s a creature on a mission. Starting by wranging up bandits and outlaws, capturing them for bounty and earning plenty of moolah on the way. He then hears a story about a town inhabited by greatures knows as “Grubbs”. The town used to be protected by a race of creatures knows as “Steef”, but they became extinct, and now that they have gone a demon terrorises the town, so stranger decides to take a trip, unfolding a great secret along the way.
What I liked:
The Oddworld games, from Abe’s Oddysee to Exoddus, and Munch after those, all have a fantastic universe to like in, and stranger’s wrath is no different. Part “Oddworld”, part any western movie you have ever seen, the world you get to play in is fantastic. It’s all joined up by the hub town where you can take on new bounties and purchase upgrades from the various shops. Typical upgrade fare really, such as ammo pouches, knuckle dusters and armour, all earned with the cash you earn by taking down the bad guys. The character of stranger is a joy to control, all animal fury and surprisingly agile at the same time. Hand to hand fighting works, but you really want to get used to switching to the crossbow. The big part of this game that still stands up to this day is the live ammo. You can hunt down various creatures in the wild and attach them to your crossbow to help you take down the baddies. There are bolamites (spiders) to tie up the enemy, Chippunks to annoy the hell out of the enemy and lure them to other parts of the level, and zapflies which sting the crooks and can also be charged up to open doors and blow up barrels. There are nine critters in total, and they are drip-fed to you as to not get you all confused, and part of the pleasure of the game is messing around with the different combinations of critter to screw up the bad-guys day. The levels are big and there are a load of new easter eggs that JAW have stuck in there for the fans of the series, so exploration is recommended. The final point is the HD polish itself. The guys at JAW have done a fantastic job with the game. This is a labour of love, and you can see that the team are huge Oddworld fans. It’s no lazy HD remake *cough cough Ico/Shadowofthecolossus*, they have really gone to town on it. HD textures, trees are rounded off, the foliage is more realistic, and there’s more of it, polygon counts on the models have also been increased and look fantastic…even the menus look better. The team at Just Add Water have set the bar for all future HD remakes….anything less than what they have achieved with this and it’s just lazy.
What I loathed:
It’s a testament to the original game that it still stands up today. There are however a few little niggles. Lots of the buildings in the areas you explore are empty, then again they would be in a desolate wasteland, so that’s a moan for the point of it. The game plays like a dream, but i’ll be the first to admit that when it’s getting to the mid point of the game it gets a little samey. The HD port is a blinder, and tezturally everything looks great, although on occasion the shadows do suffer. And one thing that really bugged me, which was exactly the same in the original game is the jumping. It can be a little frustrating at times, it just feels like Stranger should be able to jump that little bit higher than he does….you just wait until you try to get out of some water….it’s a fucking ballache at times.
Oddworld: Strangers’s Wrath is a fantastic game, and even though it’s now 6 years old, in these days of “me too” military shooters it’s like a breath of freash air. It’s funny, exciting, a pleasure to play, it looks and sounds great and has more character in it’s opening ten minutes than most games manage throughout their entire playthrough. The guys at Just Add Water show all other game developers how a HD remake should be handled, and is you’re a PS3 owner you should download this game as soon as humanly possible.
The score: 8/10
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath is available now on PSN for £9.99