Preview: Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath

January 21, 2005


For some time now, Oddworld Inhabitants (OI) has been putting out some of the most unique games in the industry. They are well-known for tackling serious subjects and blending them with light-hearted humor to create fantastic games. Previously, OI was teamed up with Microsoft to deliver Xbox-exclusive titles. April 2004 marked a change when they teamed up with EA. It was too late in the development cycle to port the newest title, [i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i], over to other consoles, but EA assures us that future titles will be multiplatform.

[floatleft][/floatleft]I recently had the opportunity to speak with Lorne Lanning, the co-founder of Oddworld Inhabitants, on the upcoming title. If there is one thing that stands out about Mr. Lanning, it is that he is more enthusiastic about his work than any person I have ever met. The high level of energy he brings to the table is undoubtedly part of the formula that has created such success for the studio, and that same energy is present in [i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i].

[i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i] is different from previous OI titles in that it strays away from the primarily third-person style of gameplay that OI typically employs. [i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i] sports dual modes, allowing you to switch between first-person and third-person modes on the fly. While this took some careful planning, it is sure to add an air of variety that most new games lack. Upon playing [i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i], you will also notice that Stranger possesses physical abilities that were missing from previous Oddworld heroes. OI decided to take a different approach to hero design and focused more on a physically strong character instead of the physically-weak-but-intelligent characters in their previous games.

[i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i] drops you into the middle of a western-style game where you play a bounty hunter named Stranger. Stranger suffers from a deadly sickness, and his only hope of survival is a very expensive operation. Stranger’s motivation to capture these bandits is indeed selfish as he fights to save his own life while putting himself in danger at the same time.

[floatright][/floatright]The dual game modes that I previously mentioned are a little different than your typical first- and third-person modes. The inspiration for some of the aspects of the third-person mode ironically came from the PlayStation version of Driver. The ability to slam into other cars and send them careening into the air was implemented as a nifty feature in [i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i]. As Stranger runs and begins to pick up speed, he will be able to ram into enemies and send them flying. First-person mode will see Stranger wielding a double-barrel crossbow that uses “live ammo.” The “live ammo” that I speak of just happens to be in the form of little critters scattered all over the Oddworld countryside. Stranger will hunt and collect nine different types of live ammo and can later purchase the ability to breed his own ammo.

[i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i] has 12 unique bounties for your playing enjoyment. Each unique bounty has a wide variety of henchmen as well as a boss who can all be turned in for cash. Each bounty has the phrase “Dead or Alive,” and the choice is yours. Live bounties pay out higher, but the satisfaction of putting an enemy six feet under will be too great for some players. The dead or alive concept presents the gamer with yet another choice in how their gaming experience will play out.

To say that Lorne and company paid attention to detail would be a serious understatement. In fact, the crew recorded over 5000 gamespeak samples for this game alone. As a fan of previous Oddworld games, I was admittedly in the closet about the concepts and ideas behind [i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i]. After hearing what Lorne Lanning had to say about the upcoming title, I got quite giddy and have been unable to stop thinking about it. [i]Stranger’s Wrath[/i] is set to be released on January 25th, and you can bet that it will find a nice place in my gaming collection.