The advent of rehashing old games from the last generations has been a key option for introducing some of the classic titles that gamers may have missed when they were first released. This is the case for Oddworld: Stranger’s Wraith, a game missed out by PlayStation owners, due to a planned version never panning out. Now, thanks to developer Just Add Water, that has been remedied with a re-release in full HD glory.
If you didn’t play the game when it originally came out on the first Xbox, then the story follows a character called Stranger. He is a bounty hunter. As you can surmise from his name, not much is known about Stranger, other that he needs a mystery operation that will cost 20,000 of the games currency; called Moolah. So to collect the required amount Stranger works to capture bandits and outlaws using his trusty double barrelled crossbow and a menagerie of creatures that can be found in the world and used as weapons. The story offers some interesting twists in the later part of the game, but builds slowly giving you a chance to understand the gameplay mechanics before throwing anything too strong your way.
The creatures that dot the landscape are actually dumps. Stranger can use these animals to trap and kill the bandits he is hunting. It’s a clever way of hiding the need for ammo based collection and gives you a little mini game to hunt down the creatures that you need to set that perfect trap. Each of these creatures has a particular use; for example the Stingbee is a rapid firing bug that works in a similar way to a machine gun and the boombat is a grenade that deals out damage or kills nearby enemies. The trap is the key to this game, Stranger has an impressive arsenal of critters to take the bandits down with, but if you want to collect the higher bounty then you need to set traps and take pot shots to bag them alive. The game is a combination of First Person Shooter and Third Person platformer, most of the battles you encounter are First Person Shooter affairs with Stranger required to set traps or snipe at enemies then move behind cover to protect and recover from any damage (which can be done by holding Triangle) but this lowers your stamina which automatically recharges over time or when you capture a bandit. You get more stamina and Moolah for live captures than dead ones, so it is always better to try and capture alive if possible.
The Third Person aspect of the game works in a similar fashion to games like Croc and Prince of Persia, but without the wall running. Stranger can climb and leap over blocks and the like, but this adds a more tactical edge to the game. With Stranger able to climb up to higher vantage points to trick and trap or snipe at the enemies below. The tactical side of things depends on the area that you encounter enemies in; you have various options to tackle the enemies within a given area from run and gun to a more stealthy approach. Stranger will be outnumbered dramatically in most encounters therefore you need to break groups up and pick them off one-by-one, to aid you in this Stranger can hide in tall patches of grass and lure bandits to him for a swift knockout or into trap creatures called Fuzzles, that attack and knock them unconscious.
Third Person mode did bring up one problem for me, if you move the camera round and it hit a wall or another object in the environment it seemed to get stuck and required a swift pull back and forth to dislodge. Not a massive problem but annoying in some of the more hectic boss fights.
There are constant allusions in reviews of HD versions of older games about how the graphics look and how it is only high resolution textures not a full HD re-creation, but for once this isn’t the case. Stranger and the world he inhabits looks amazing, of course it is still a PSN game and doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of Uncharted, but the pure fact that it is a PSN game you just wouldn’t believe that it could like this. The environments, while very much of the dull scale of the colour palette with lots of dark browns and grays, look crisp with no jagged edges or unrefined pixels. There are many a point during the game where the camera swings in close to objects or buildings, I’m not entirely sure if that is meant to happen or not but still you get a good view of the textures and even close up they look good.
The amount of game time that you get from Stranger’s Wraith is truly unbelievable, at least for a PSN download. It really is without a doubt the best looking HD re-release I have played with some amazing graphics, Just Add Water has done its job well, something that you would expect from this developer. Barring the two minor problems I had during my time with the game, it has been a brilliant experience.
The best thing of all is that Oddworld: Stranger’s Wraith HD is out just in time for Christmas, and if you want to treat yourself at Christmas, this game is one of the best presents you can get.
Rating: Excellent Review Policy