Mar 092005
Authors: Jessica Brooke

Imagine a world where villainous outlaws roam freely and bounty hunting is a viable way to earn a living, but the only way to capture the outlaws is by firing live animals at them from a crossbow.

This is the odd world in "Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath." This is the fourth game released in the "Oddworld" series and the first of the series produced by Electronic Arts (EA). Unfortunately, it is only available on Xbox.

In this latest chapter of "Oddworld," players assume the role of Stranger, a rough and tough, but not too bright bounty hunter. If John Wayne and Chewbacca had a baby and then dropped it on its head a couple times, that would be Stranger.

The game begins with directions to help players quickly learn the controls, as well as bright pink markers that tell them where they need to be heading. But people shouldn't get used to this. As soon as the first bounty is cashed in, the game becomes intense and challenging.

The weapon is a crossbow filled with live ammunition. Various creatures each serve a different function to debilitate an outlaw. Players hunt ammunition as they make their way through a wild frontier in chase of their bounty.

Ammunition ranges from Chippunks, which lure prey out into the open, to Fuzzles, little balls of fur with needle-sharp teeth. The ammunition players choose to fling affect outlaws differently. Bolamites only wrap them in a web, while Fuzzles will most likely kill them.

Moolah is the currency in Oddworld. Outlaws increase in Moolah as players advance through the game and are worth more alive than dead.

"Stranger's Wrath" combines first-person shooter, third-person combat, and strategy. Realism is combined with fantasy in a way that would make Tim Burton proud. There's not one human among the Oddworld inhabitants, but the landscape over which players traverse is stunningly true to life.

The characters are often spouting off obnoxious quips that are entertaining, and the story line is intriguing. Stranger is not hunting bounties to get rich. It is instead because he is in desperate need of an operation. Side plots accompany each bounty assignment.

The game is seamless, with no wait for screens to load. The save feature works automatically and doesn't interfere with play.

"Stranger's Wrath" is a brilliant departure from role-playing games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and its imitators. It does not rely on graphic violence and incorporates strategy in a way that will keep the player feeling challenged.


3 out of 4 rams





 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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