11-15-04 - 1


"Oddworld : Stranger's Wrath" is almost done. I think it's a very good game. Not nearly as good as it could have been, not as good as Halo 2 or Half Life 2 (probably, we'll see), and of course we're just talking about the single player, they have great multiplayer and we have none, but still one of the better single player experiences in the last year. Our lovely friends at EA are doing almost zero marketting for us, so I thought I'd do some here -

Clearly the semi-innovative thing about it is the 1st to 3rd person gameplay. This is the first game I know of that has a really fully functional 1st person shooter and a 3rd person platformer/melee/driving put together, and quite seamless and smooth where you can switch back & forth and it feels good and natural. You actually switch in combat to do various moves, unlike some games where you move in 3rd and snipe in 1st, etc. The 1st and 3rd are also actually different, it's not like Heretic or Everquest or something where you can use either view, but the 3rd person is really just 1st person on a stick behind the axis of rotation.

In 1st person, the game is basically a shooter, but the weapons are a bit quirky. Many of the weapons are not basic damage weapons, they're tools for manipulating the enemies, and you can combine them in sequences for "combos". One of the basic combos is just to freeze a guy with bees so you can lay a thudslug or boombat on him. Another common one is to skunk a mob then drop a boombat in the middle of them. There are also lots of environmental traps that you can make use of; there's lots of knocking guys through glass to their death, things like that.

In 3rd person, the game is like a platformer/adventure/driving/melee game. Here, you are fast, very fast, and control sort of like a car or motorcycle (actually the controls morph from standard walking at low speed to more like a car at high speed). You can ram and meelee. One move few people know is that if you jump before you ram a guy, you keep your velocity and go through him - very useful.

One of my favorite things about the game is the twist. I won't give it away (we've asked all the press to keep it a secret), but part way through, there's a big story twist. That's pretty standard in movies and games, but there's a difference - the play actually changes a lot as well. Unlike most games where you get a story twist, or play as the enemy, and the gameplay is basically identical, here the whole feel of the gameplay changes a lot, the pacing changes. It's a cinematic thing, there's a shift and suddenly the feel is different for the 3rd act building to the climax. In the beginning, you're a bounty hunter, in the end?

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