Odd weapons help ‘Oddworld’ shine

Odd weapons help 'Oddworld' shine [Hosted by CNN.com]

Date: 14/02/2005

Author: Marc Saltzman

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2005/TECH/fun.games/02/11/oddworld/

Some video games rely on gimmicks to stand out.

Consider EA Games’ “GoldenEye: Rogue Agent,” which lets you play a bad guy in the James Bond universe or Ubisoft’s “Prince of Persia” titles, in which your character can manipulate time by pausing or rewinding the game.

The gimmick in EA Games’ new “Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath” is its weapons system, which isn’t like any you might expect.

The weapons don’t fire bullets or lasers. They are alien critters, such as exploding Boombats or piranha-like Fuzzles that attack the closest enemy when fired into a crowd. And they help to make this “Oddworld,” the eighth in the franchise, the best yet.

You begin “Stranger’s Wrath” by assuming the role of the Stranger, a bounty hunter commissioned to track down a host of bizarre outlaws. Consider this scenario a cross between “Star Wars” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” an odd mix of science fiction and spaghetti Westerns.

As the Stranger, you accept missions from the Bounty Store and follow a map to track down fugitives, such as Filthy Hands Floyd or The Looten Duke. If you bag a baddie, you collect a cash reward you can use to buy better weapons, brass knuckles, clip extenders or stamina boosters.

Over time, the Stranger’s bounties become more difficult to catch — as well as more lucrative.

“Stranger’s Wrath” is played from a third-person perspective when climbing ropes, jumping across chasms or engaging in fistfights, but you’ll need to toggle to a first-person view to look through binoculars, target enemies with a double-barrel crossbow or activate a faraway switch with a projectile.

The game’s ammo includes Stunkz that emit a poisonous gas to choke enemies and Stingbees that can be fired machine-gun style before they swarm the outlaws. Zappflies are your only unlimited ammo, and they’re ideal for collecting and retrieving other live ammo, which grazes in the game’s outdoor environments.

Ammo upgrades include Riot Slugs that explode in midair and spray shrapnel and foul-mouthed Howler Punks that lure enemies into traps.

Live ammunition is a cute concept that doesn’t grow tiresome because you need to strategize about which critters work best in different bounty-hunting situations.

Fugitives are worth more alive than dead, but they are harder to capture than kill. To earn your bounty, you must walk up to the stunned (or deceased) outlaw and press the X button on the Xbox controller, which sucks him into a bag with a kind of portable vacuum cleaner. The game is called “Oddworld” for a reason.

Retailing for $49.99, “Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath” includes a lot more action and violence than past “Oddworld” titles that relied on puzzle-solving (1997’s “Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee”) or cooperative teamwork (2001’s “Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee”).

That said, “Stranger’s Wrath” is just as humorous and entertaining, and ultimately, it’s a more gratifying adventure than its predecessors because of the live ammo gimmick that remains fresh until the game’s conclusion.