Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath Reader Review
The Oddworld series of games have perhaps the largest cult following a niche title could ever amass, putting to shame even those of Shenmue and Beyond Good and Evil. Despite this Oddworld games have never really been very good, with the two PSone games being little more than irrelevant Flashback/Prince of Persia clones.
Oddworld: Strangers Wrath then, is the fourth Oddworld title from series creator Oddworld Inhabitants. Unlike previous games in the series, Strangers Wrath doesn't follow the exploits of likable alien slave Abe but instead the mysterious Stranger, a Clint Eastwood-esqe character, who - in a bid to raise enough money for a mysterious "operation" - takes on various bounties across different towns, hunting bad guys wherever they may be.
The game uses a somewhat strange gameplay mechanic - the ability to fire 'live' ammunition. This plays out in much the same way as Halo 2's dual wield mechanic in that each Xbox trigger corresponds with a specific barrel on Strangers crossbow. Unlike Halo 2 however, you can't fire both weapons at the same time, instead using one weapon to reveal a weakness in the enemy and the other to damage said enemy. The mechanic works surprisingly well adding a much needed layer of strategy to what would otherwise be a somewhat simple FPS.
However, in the second half of the game it becomes just that, with all the bounties done and dusted and the western setting all but disappeared - Strangers Wrath becomes a pretty generic shooter, playing out more like Halo (I hate Halo!) and Serious Sam (meh) and less like the game you could have fallen in love with. Another factor which ties Strangers Wrath down is the difficulty level - it's virtually non-existent. After you get to grips with the 'live ammo' thing, boss battles become less a test of skill and more a test of patience and timing - both of which are very important factors in Strangers Wrath as boss battles tend to be far too drawn out and over repetitive.
For all it's faults though, Oddworld: Strangers Wrath is still a fun and interesting title with graphics that really push the ageing Xbox hardware to its absolute limits. It's slightly upsetting, then that the best Oddworld title yet is also the last.
7 / 10