In a year chock full of beautiful High Definition remakes, from Ico, Prince of Persia and Halo, how will Just Add Water's spit and polish of Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath stack up?
Well first things first it gets the basics right, this puppy is running at 60 frames per second, making for a mega-smooth console experience and making sure that every twitch of your dual-shock is instantly replicated on your screen. They have also gone to town on the games textures, not only upping their resolution, but improving and re-drawing a lot of them, making for one beautiful looking game, one that could easily be released at retail. Audio has also been given a major overhaul, the scratchy somewhat muffled voices of the original Xbox game have been given twice the sample space, and in some cases re-recorded for extra clarity. Even the menus have been completely changed with J.A.W. going back to some lovely original concept art and making amazing use of the extra resolution the PS3 hardware offers. So there we have it, a new bar has been set for the HD remake, all other developers take note. So what about the bloody game then?
You are cast as 'The Stranger', Half Clint Eastwood, half bounty-hunter and half lion-thing. I know that's three halves, but The Stranger is far too cool for just the two. The first chunk of the game will see you hunting down rapscallions and taking them in, dead or alive, sounds simple enough, sure, but what about if you have to hunt for your ammo first? See, the Strangers main weapon is the crossbow, each side holding a creature you have to hunt out in the levels, and these critters all have their unique powers. So you can find yourself hiding in the long grass and firing a chipmunk onto the floor, drawing the enemies towards it so you can wrap them all up in spider webbing, which then allows you to wander over and suck them up into your bounty bag for cash reward. Or maybe you can hit them with a fuzzle, causing them to run around like a loon, maybe even drowning themselves if there is water close. Or you could just rush in with Thud-slugs and waste their sorry arses, but you get less cash for bountying a dead body I'm afraid.
The point is you can play Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath in a multitude of different ways, swapping between a first and third person view with a click of the stick, it's a great system and it works wonderfully. You'll definitely need that third person view for the platforming sections, and also for when you are running on all fours to get to you destination faster, I did mention he was half lion-thing, yes?
You may have noticed I've not talked about the actual story for the game yet, and that's very intentional, it doesn't seem like much of an epic yarn when you first begin to play, but right about the time you start to think you've had enough with all this bounty-hunting lark, something happens, something cool, and something that'll keep you hooked right until the end credits roll.
This is my third time playing though Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, and I can say without hesitation that this is the best its ever been. It's just as gripping as ever, but now it has the looks to match its beating gameplay heart. If you've not played this before, get it now. If you have played it before, get it now, it looks divine and the 60fps really makes it a joy to experience again. The best Xbox exclusive has now become the best PS3 exclusive, and if you have ever considered yourself a gamer you owe it to yourself to grab this as soon as humanly possible.