Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2005-07-01 Xbox Action/Platform E10 (Everyone 10+) EA Games / Oddworld Inhabitants

Previous Oddworld titles came out as puzzle-platform games and were known for their funky environments and peculiar humor. This time, Oddworld Inhabitants (the developers, not the people living in Oddworld) took the game in a completely different direction. Oddworld Stranger's Wrath combines two styles of gameplay, which make it all the more original: a blend between a first person shooter and a third person platformer become a sure recipe for non-stop action.

The game has a well-defined Wild West theme, where the old west meets technology. And this is where our protagonist comes in.

Stranger is a skilled bounty hunter, and his life can be summed up into hunting criminals and bringing them back to the bounty office dead or alive for "moolah". Obviously, capturing them alive will give you a bigger reward, but it requires more effort since you have to wear down an enemy's stamina instead of his health.

After a while, you find out that Stranger needs these rewards to total up $10,000 because he needs to have a delicate surgical procedure done that will improve his health (although you don't know for the longest time what is it that ails him). Unfortunately, the good doctor supposed to perform this surgery is taken away by the evil guys. So here begins Stranger's great adventure, where many action-packed fights and plot surprises expect him. You will get to learn Stranger's story, who he is and where he came from.

One of the weirdest things in the game is the choice of ammo for your crossbow. Instead of arrows or bullets, Stranger will hunt little creatures that serve this purpose. These creatures range from skunks and bees to chipmunks and flies. Talk about "live" ammo!

Each of these little creatures has its own special "power". For example, the chipmunk lures enemies to it and bollamites (a kind of spider) are used to paralyze your enemies for a short period of time. Of course, to have these types of ammo available, you will have to hunt them first (aka, knock the little animals out to capture them). Later in the game you can buy breeding bags which allows you to increase your supply and not spend time hunting. You can have two types of ammo loaded at any time, so try out different combinations to see what works best for you.

Since the little ammo-creatures are fully animated, watching them at times is pretty funny. Oh, and now and again, some of them will even talk to Stranger ("Do you really know how to use this thing?").

Combat doesn't rely exclusively on the ammo, since Stranger also has a few moves of his own. He can shake off any damage done to him and recover his health (you will actually see bullets flying off of his skin as he does it). He can run considerably faster in third-person view, which allows him to ram enemies (brief stun). And he can kick some ass with some physical combat.

Although the voice acting is quite good, it lacks in variety. All the bad guys sound the same (except for the bosses) and all the villagers sound alike (actually, they all sound like they've been inhaling some helium). Stranger however, has this "everything's cool" tone in his voice which is what makes his personality. No matter how bad or difficult the situation gets, Stranger will always speak in this manner.

Graphically, the game is outstanding. I mean, just look at all the detail put into Stranger! Even in the dusty old-west settings you can see little clouds of dust lifting up from the ground as a breeze goes by. But once you reach other zones, you will see how the graphics only get better.

The gameplay might be a little odd, and the storyline is way beyond the oddity point, but Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is a game that you won't put down until you know how the plot ends. Too bad it's a bit short.