Stranger's Wrath

Guns, Outlaws, talking chickens, natives that look like penises, it doesn't get much better, or much more fun!

Stranger's Wrath is a game I waited a long time to play. I had fallen in love with Abe's Oddysee when it was first released, and the love affair with Oddworld continued with Abe's Exodus. However, with the news that Oddworld would be Xbox exclusive, I realised I may have to wait a long time before the love affair could continue, and as with all love, separation from my lover made it dwindle. Some years later I had the chance to play Munch's Oddysee and it just didn't have that something special, it was more world, and less odd. However with my own Xbox acquired, my quest to play Stranger's Wrath began. After a long battle with Sligs and Scrabs I managed to steal a copy from a Glukkon, and I was away.
I had high expectations for Stranger's Wrath, it didn't have to be a technically great game, but it had to restore my faith in Oddworld, and as this was before it was announced they were getting back into game development, it had to be one last final hurrah for Oddworld, it had to be our last glorious embrace. And in four simple words, I was not disappointed. You can stop reading now, in fact perhaps I should stop the review now? But I shall push forwards-don't give up reviewer!-Whether you like or not.
When I first started I was apprehensive, it was more Spaghetti Western than Oddworld. There were talking chickens and cats instead of green people with their lips sowed together, and there were beautiful sandy towns instead of dark grey industrial factories. Not to mention you had a gun! However there's not much more Oddworld than a gun that shoots cute small creatures…
After I got over the initial shock, my love for Oddworld was rekindled. Now that I've got the auto-biography out of the way, I should probably get on with the review. Stranger's Wrath follows a bounty hunter who goes by the name of Stranger. He needs an operation for some mysterious ailment, and the best way to make money is hunt down bandits, capture them by sucking them into his bag with the X button. Of course it's not as simple as that, before you can get to the head honcho you've got to take out his bandits. Now if the fact that you're shooting cute creatures at enemies isn't enough for you to work this out I'll spell it out for you-Oddworld is not a traditional shooter. Getting through the bandits isn't run and gun, it's a strategic puzzle, and trust me, when there are 20 bandits trying to kill you you'll have to think about what you're doing. You'll have to utilise all the different types of ammo. Perhaps you'll immobilise one group of bandits with Stunkz (they stop a group of enemies) while you lure in a group of enemies with the Chippunk and then blast them with the exploding Boombats. To make matters a little bit harder, you can make far more money if you capture the bandits alive. So while you've got those two groups stunned, you better start sucking them up, of course they don't stay stunned for long...
When you've taken out the bandits you come to the boss. They're not the most complex bosses to take down, but they can prove a challenge to capture alive, as you've got to survive for a fair bit longer, than if you were to just blast them until they died. Nevertheless, they are usually a satisfying climax to a level, and when you're surrounded by bandits and the boss, provide an enjoyable challenge.
Just as the story begins to ramp up, you're hit with a brilliant twist. Unfortunately the twist changes the structure to a far more open yet traditional shooter. No longer is it necessary to capture the enemies alive, and with your ammo being beefed up, it becomes a little more run and gun. That, and the lack of bosses, would make the second half of the game a little less engaging, if the story didn't hit its stride, and in cIassic Oddworld-fair you'll be fighting for natives against the nasty scourge of industry! And boy are the natives' surroundings beautiful! In fact the whole game is beautiful, the chicken-like Clackers are small chubby birds full of personality and zest, and they live in rich 1800s western-styIe towns. The country side ain't bad either, there are rocky mountain sides, dark caves, and old ruins. But it amps up when the second half begins, everything gets much, much bigger, from huge docks, to large cities and industrial complexes everything is beautiful, and with the blue electricity of Zappeflies, and the fiery explosions of Boombats your enemies will be dieing in a way that does justice to their surroundings!
However, it's a little disappointing to hear how poorly recorded the voice acting is. A lot of the time I had trouble understanding what was being said due to the muffled sound of the voices, it's especially odd considering the crisp quality of the sound effects and the musical score. It's a shame too, as the script certainly had its moments, though I must admit that at times the jokes fell a little flat.
I've been a little critical in this review, but they're more from an Oddworld fan's point of view, than a gamer's. It's one of the best Xbox games I've played, it may have its problems, but it should be remembered among the Xbox's best. And despite the criticisms, it's a fine swan-song for Oddworld, (though it isn't a swan-song now!) they managed to take Oddworld in a new direction quite successfully, and perhaps that was the problem with Munche's Odyssey. Maybe it was just too much of the same thing, perhaps Stranger's Wrath was what Oddworld needed to revitalise the series, and my love for it! Either way my love is as strong for Oddworld than it ever was, and I eagerly await their what they come up with next (here's hoping *crosses fingers*). I just hope it's not on the Xbox 360, or I will suffer all over again! Oh, why do I still love you when you torture me so? You're no good for me, Oddworld, but I love you all the same!


This cult-classic will have you partying like it's 1999 despite its age.

The US government sends a probe into an alien parallel universe, but naturally things go wrong. An alien damages the probe resulting in the impending destruction of the universe if the probe can not be recovered. Step in Cutter Slade, a wise-cracking hard arse former navy SEAL who you have the honour of playing. Slade is ordered to escort three scientists into the parallel universe, but once again things don't go so well as Slade is separated from the scientists-losing most of his equipment in the process-and so an epic adventure of seemingly simple tasks that never quite go to plan begins.
Slade wakes up in a small village draped in beautiful white snow. He makes first contact with the aliens, and much to his dismay they tell him he is the Ulukai who is the prophesised being who will save the world from Fae Rhan, the evil dictator that rules Adelpha. What did I tell you about things not going to plan?
One of the first things you'll notice about Outcast is the interface and presentation. At a time when widescreen monitors were not readily available, Outcast is played at the highest resolution of 512x384, this means that you're playing in widescreen! Across the bottom of the screen there is a black bar, and while this cuts down on your vision, it adds to the cinematic feel of the game. While there is a HUD, many steps are taken to keep you immerse in the beautiful world of Adelpha. To bring up the map you hit tab, and when you do Slade has a pair of futuristic goggles descend over his eyes, and the map comes up. To further immerse you in the world, early on you are given the Gamsaav, a mystical item, that when squeezed, saves your life essence (in other words it saves the game). However, as you squeeze it, it glows and makes a noise, so if you try and save near an enemy they will investigate. It's the small details like this that were ahead of its time, you see games like Dead Space praised for integrating the HUD into the back of the protagonists suit, but Outcast had already been there and done that almost ten years earlier!
Upon completing a few tasks around Ranzaar (the snowy starting area), you're told that the Ulukai must collect five Mons before he can stop Fae Rhan. When you leave Ranzaar, you come across another very progressive feature. Outcast is completely non-linear! The Mons can be recovered in any order! While the quests themselves are quite linear (though a few do give you a choice or two here and there), you can play them in any order you like. I know games like the Elder Scrolls were around before Outcast, but I'm having trouble thinking of an action adventure as old as Outcast that is as non-linear.
But this is where we discover that Outcast has aged a little less than gracefully in certain areas. Shamazaar is a lush land of green riss (the most popular food in Adelpha) fields populated by Gandha talan (the working class), Fae talan (soldiers), and Twon-Ha (bird-like creatures that you can ride). When you mount a Twon-Ha you'll find you can't move, and when you walk through riss you'll find you move incredibly slowly. Problems like these are to be expected with old games, and can actually be fixed with CPU-Grabber, but it's annoying nonetheless. However, I suffered a far worse problem when I was about half way through, when the game suffered multiple fatal crashes, but thankfully this was fixed with a third party mod. The last problem-and perhaps the biggest-is not fixable by anything but a time machine and a memory wipe.
You see certain aspects of Oucast's gameplay has not aged particularly well. Most side-quests consist of going between quest vendor and quest vendor (A fact that Slade himself makes light of!), and while the dialogue and voice acting has high production values, and is deliciously cheesy, it's not exactly engaging. Especially when a seemingly simple task turns into a long trek across Adelpha. Ten years ago, exploring the world itself as you did the quest was probably engaging enough, and while the graphics have aged remarkably well (thanks to the unique smooth look of the voxel engine), it's just not as big of an attraction as it would have been ten years ago.
As well as the dialogue and story, the combat itself has aged very well. While it's an action adventure, you move with WSAD, and aim and shoot with the mouse. You can even go into first person mode for better aiming. Apart from your human pistol, you will get a multitude of alien weapons-from mortars to sniper rifles-and you'll need them, you see there isn't exactly a lack of Fae Talan around… though there will be by the time you're finished! I believe at one point near the end I was fighting 20+ Fae Talan, which is quite an impressive achievement for a game so old.
While there are a lot of enemies, there can be large gaps between them. So when you're not fighting, it simply feels like you're walking around talking to people… which is pretty much the case. To make matters worse, you can weaken soldiers, and lower their numbers by doing resource quests. These generally involve convincing the leaders of the different regions of Adelpha to stop giving supplies to Fae Rhan. In the desert region of Motazaar this would mean they would stop mining metal for the soldiers' weapons, which would make the soldiers' weapons weaker, in the marshy region of Okasankaar this would mean they would stop supplying the soldiers with Sankaar (fish) which would make them physically weaker and therefore easier to kill. There are four resource quests in total, and by the time you're finished you will kill the soldiers in two or three shots, and they will do very little damage, making the game incredibly easy.
There is however, are several aspects of Outcast that time will never diminish: the story, the well realised and in-depth world, the dialogue and voice acting, but most of all, the delicious sci-fi sense of humour and references. For a start the different nations of Adelpha are accessed through Daokas, that look almost identical to Stargates from Stargate, and in the city of Motazaar there are buskers playing music from Star Wars. If you have a long attention span you should definitely give Outcast a try, it might be slow at times, but listening to the Star Wars theme as Slade is sent on yet another seemingly simple task that turns into something much harder will ease the pain.

Posted by Foolz Sat, 25 Oct 2008 04:57:14 (comments: 4)
Sat, 25 Oct 2008 20:32:37
What no score? Do you expect be to read the damn thing? Nyaa
Sun, 26 Oct 2008 02:41:21

Expect perhaps isn't the right word...
Sun, 26 Oct 2008 14:04:08
They gave up games for movies after strangers wrath. They were pissed that it sold so poorly despite such great reviews.

It is an odd game for the mass market to understand at a glance. Odd, indeed.
Sun, 02 Nov 2008 06:17:59

More due to EA's terrible attempt at Publishing it. Abe's Oddysse and Exodus were really popular games.

They recently said they plan to make another game though, I just hope it isn't 360 exclusive. That waas another reason Stranger's Wrath didn't sell so welll... nobody cared about Oddworld on the xbox. It was a big mistake to leave Sony.

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