You won't hate yourself.
By MONTY PHAN
LONG ISLAND NEWSDAY
In Oddworld Stranger's Wrath, to say that you have a "live round" does not mean you have an unfired bullet in the weapon's chamber. It means that your ammunition is literally alive.
But then, would you expect anything less from a land called Oddworld? After all, this is a game where the titular Stranger professes a dislike for guns, so he wields a crossbow -- which he uses to fire small, living creatures at his enemies. Oddworld's versions of the NRA and PETA must not be big fans of the Stranger.
Stranger's Wrath comes from the same folks who designed Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, both of which are markedly different from the most recent offering. For example, as you may have guessed, there's a lot of first-person shooting in Stranger's Wrath. The world, however, is just as gorgeously rendered as ever.
As the Stranger, you have a simple mission: You need a life-saving operation, and the only way to afford it is to collect the bounty on Oddworld outlaws. So you wander around an alien Old West, slingin' your crossbow (or whatever it is that one does with such a weapon).
The best part of the game is its inventive take on ammo, two types of which you can load on your crossbow at once. Take, for instance, Fuzzles, which sound as if they'd be cuddly and fun, but are really just sharp-toothed, cranky critters that gnaw on the first enemy they encounter. After they're shot, Chippunks amusingly lie on the ground taunting enemies, luring them close enough for you to fire off a Bolamite, a spider-like creature that encases your target in sticky webbing. There are half a dozen other varmints, with easy-to-grasp names like Thudslugs and Boombats.
The game play is fairly simple. The Bounty Shop gives you your targets, and you set off in the appropriate direction, encountering various henchmen along the way. By fighting up close with your fists or from a distance with your crossbow, the goal is to knock out your enemy.
Bottom line: Stranger's Wrath is a solid, original game that may not make you want to rush home to play, but doesn't make you hate yourself if you do.