The original game, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, was released on the XBox back in 2005. They said that this wasn't just a lazy remake but we wanted to find out for ourselves.
Before you actually start the game, you'd be allowed to select the difficulty level: easy, normal or hard. The game starts by getting you familiar with the mechanics by taking you in one of Stranger's actual hunt.
The game plays in two different modes - third person and first person. You can switch between modes at almost any time in the game. You'd be playing mostly in third person view mode during explorations. During combat, you can either fight in third person or in the first person mode where you get to shoot with a crossbow.
The way the game lets you roam around freely is really nice. You'll be jumping from platform to platform, climb ropes, jump on windows, run through fences, and many others. All of these are mixed up with Stranger's athletic abilities such as double jumping and running like a wild animal. You can also prank the villagers for some extra fun.
Fighting is fundamental to your survival. In thid-person mode, Stranger can perform melee attacks such as spinning and head-butting. In first person mode, the game lets you use live creatures as ammunition. The creatures also look differently and does their own unique thing. There are 8 different critter ammos in the game and you'll come pass them as you progress. Make no mistake, beating the game requires an effective use and knowledge of all the ammo.
The basic premise of the game is to ask for a mission in the bounty store and start hunting outlaws. You can either capture your target dead or alive but capturing them alive rewards you with more Moolah (the in-game currency).
During combat, you have to keep in mind Stranger's life and stamina meters. The green bar basically tells Stranger's health which you can replenish in exchange for your stamina. The stamina meter (the blue bar) recovers overtime when you stand still or when you bounty your dazed off enemies.
The specific outlaw you go after basically becomes the boss to hunt. You can defeat a boss by shaking them off and bountying them or simply find a way to kill them. Hunting for outlaws also involve finding their hideout.
The enemies are smart enough to know that you're around. Sometimes it seems that they're too smart, making the game frustrating for beginners. Enemies can easily spot you from afar; to play stealth, you need to make sure that you're standing on bushes which is easier said than done. Enemies are also smart enough to predict and evade your attacks.
To help you in your survival, there's always a General store in each town you visit. The general store offers upgrades. The upgrade system is not very sophisticated but is a much needed help nevertheless. You can also buy ammo from the general store just in case you're feeling lazy to capture them yourself.
Perhaps the best selling point of the game is the beautiful HD graphics. The first time you play the game makes you raise your eyebrows and say "mmm... nice". The HD upgrade makes Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath the type of game that is fun to watch from over someone else's shoulder and can easily impress your friends.
The game runs on 60fps for the most parts but lags on certain parts of the game, especially when there are a lot of characters on the screen like in a town. We didn't have the chance to compare this version with the original version but just to say, the characters and environments have been remodeled so the game boasts of higher polygon count than the original game. Reflections have also been added in the environments and it's pretty obvious as you play the game.
The environment is mostly made up of rocks, a few grasses and trees. It's understandable since the game seems to take inspiration from "Wild West" environment. Having mentioned about grasses and trees, they're not really as dynamic as with games totally built from scratch on the Vita like Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
Even with all the knit-picking we try to do, we'd still say that the game's seven-year-old graphics rivals most games released on the Vita.
Almost all the characters in the game are voiced. In fact, the music, voices and sound effects have all been upgraded from 8-bit 11KHz to 16-bit 44KHz. Stranger has his own low tone while cluckers (essentially the village people who look like chickens) seem to share the same voice. You can talk to NPC's by pressing the square button. In some cases, you can just go nearby two talking cluckers and you'll overhear them speak. You'll notice that almost all the characters talk in cowboy fashion style.
Talking to NPC's can help you get directions related to your mission from time to time. It can get annoying sometimes because most NPC's repeat the same dialogue over and over again. When you press the talk button alone, Stranger talks to himself and gives a hint on what you should be doing next.
The integration with the Vita's touch controls in this game is surprisingly good. The touchscreen support fitted very well with the game's menu and presentation. The only disappointment we've had is switching from third-person to first-person view. Double tapping is a slow-way of getting into first-person mode. You can use the rear touchpad to punch when enemies get close but it could have been better if there was just a way to switch between views quickly. Also, it could have been better if there were gyroscopic controls as with other games with first-person view mode.
Finally, they've put in an extra menu that gives you access to movies that you've watched throughout the entire game. You can unlock concept arts that could make you get a feel more of the world the developers and artists tried to create in this game. For completionists, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD for the Vita has 37 trophies for you to collect.
For old fans of the series who are looking more into a re-imagining of the classic 2D sides-scrolling puzzle, there's almost no footprint of the old game here other than the "Oddworld" title. But on its own, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD provides a hefty challenge and good amount of content. The HD upgrade is more than worthy of that $14.99 price tag, add to that the unique gameplay style that you'd get.
Rating for Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD (Vita)
|Game Info:||Platform: PlayStation Vita|
Developer: Just Add Water
Publisher: Oddworld Inhabitants
Release Date: 12/18/2012
Rating: T Teen
No. of players: 1
- Beautiful HD graphics
- Wide and open environment
- Unique combination of third-person and first-person action
- Interesting story and good art direction
- Fair amount of content
- Hunting outlaws can sometimes feel like a chore
- The game can be extremely hard on some parts, requires frequent saving and "sanity check"
- It's hard to switch between third-person to first-person view mode and vice-versa.