Fourth Oddworld title nearing completion

'Stranger' hits alpha, but with Atari and Microsoft having washed their hands of the brand, is EA in line to publish it?

Reports emerged last night that Oddworld Inhabitants' long-awaited sequel to Munch's Oddysee, known as 'Stranger' has 'gone alpha' and that an announcement on the game's publisher is set to be revealed in the next two weeks.

Just days after it was revealed that Atari had disposed of its 50 per cent share of the company in return for publishing royalties, and three months after Oddworld boss Lorne Lanning announced that Microsoft would not be publishing Stranger, reports suggest that Electronic Arts could be the company in the frame.

EA has been particularly acquisitive of late, picking up well known brands such as Burnout 3, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, so it would be no surprise to see the US giant adding a character based game to its roster - an area it has yet to dominate with any major success, despite attempts with Ty the annoying Tasmanian Tiger 18 months back.

The game will reportedly feature both first and third person viewpoints; first person for shooting and third person for hand to hand/melee combat. The lead character is a Llama called Steef, no doubt burdened with wind issues and speech impediments like all Oddworld characters.

Despite huge PSone success under its original publisher GT, the franchise didn't enjoy the success expected of it when Microsoft thrust it into its Xbox launch line-up in late 2001/early 2002, possibly a combination of the wrong demographics, or maybe its gameplay appeal losing something in the transition to 3D.

Whatever the reasons for its success or lack of, if the game secures a publishing partner with the clout of EA, the game will be given the best possible chance of success - a fact surely not lost on Mr Lanning's bank balance.

Predictably, neither party have commented on the matter, but expect full clarification and more details on the game shortly.

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