Saturday, April 17, 2021

Oddworld: Soulstorm Review – A NEGATIVE Batch Of Brew

Playing Oddworld: Soulstorm is as arduous as Abe’s quest to liberate his Mudoken brethren from slavery. Each step is a supreme test of patience as you methodically guide your followers through challenging hazards, sweating over the fact that one slip-up could unravel all your effort. If you enjoy putting up with that old-school challenge, you might love this journey. However, if you’re a newcomer or a fan that believes this style of platformer hasn’t aged very well, turn back now. Soulstorm doesn’t do enough to modernize the series’ tedious gameplay, and a litany of severe technical hiccups spoil Abe’s attempted comeback. A reimagining of Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, Soulstorm’s gameplay remains largely the same: you recruit and guide followers through 2D platforming stages littered with dangers. As charming as the classic Oddworld games are, they can be frustratingly difficult and that hasn’t changed much in Soulstorm. Most Slig enemies and other hazards mow Abe down instantly, and I was infuriated by how little wiggle room I had to correct course when things went sideways. Abe drops so fast that it makes the health meter seem like a cruel tease. While playing Soulstorm, I often felt like I was walking on eggshells because of that high price of failure, retracing every step, re-recruiting every Mudokon, and carefully guiding them through a gauntlet of foes is soul-crushing when it all falls apart in seconds. Dying to unexpected perils, like being suddenly gunned down by off-screen enemies, feels cheap and happens way too often. A crafting system serves as Soulstorm’s biggest addition, but it doesn’t feel necessary. You must repeatedly gather the same ingredients every time you die (by searching lockers, trash cans, and fallen foes), which wore me down in a hurry after repeatedly replaying certain sections. The crafted tools themselves, like proximity mines, smoke screens, even a flamethrower, do add a welcomed element of flexibility and improvisation to gameplay. Dropping smoke screens to create hiding spots anywhere is nice, but I wished I didn’t have to make these items myself and grew tired of digging around the same spots over and over.   Even when Soulstorm’s difficulty eases up, the gameplay is bland. The action feels largely the same from previous games in the series, and that formula doesn’t evolve significantly beyond the first few hours. Even the more interesting sequences, like facing down a giant mech aboard a speeding train, are far too punishing to be fun. I’m glad that Abe controls better now (he even has a double jump), but the controls still have a mushy unresponsiveness that makes entertaining actions, like possessing Sligs, feel like a hassle. The controls also lead to additional deaths because Abe doesn’t act as swiftly as you need him to, especially during the ill-fitting, overly demanding combat arenas that pit you against waves of baddies while you try to protect fleeing Mudokens. Soulstorm would be a tough recommendation for anyone outside of diehard fans if it performed flawlessly, but I encountered several progress-sabotaging bugs (even after installing the big day-one patch) that should scare off even those players. When I died, Mudokens sometimes failed to respawn alongside me even though my tally indicated they were still alive and under my command. That meant I lost out on turning in followers that I’d spent ages trying to safely liberate, which negatively affected my overall quarma – a vital metric in determining which of the four endings you get.  Abe occasionally gets stuck in environmental geometry, forcing a restart. At one point, I fell into an infinite loop. One escape portal permanently vanished once I reached it, forcing me to abandon followers. A gun in a late-game turret sequence failed to shoot despite working fine in previous segments. After multiple restarts, I randomly discovered that clicking the right stick “fixed” the weapon for some reason, allowing it to fire. I spent over an hour trying to lead a large group of followers through a particularly challenging area, but once I opened the exit door an invisible wall prevented me from moving forward. I was forced to restart this entire, lengthy sequence twice before the exit worked properly. Soulstorm’s gameplay pushed my patience to its limits, but these bugs sent me over the edge and made me nervous every time I started a new level. “What on Earth is going to screw me over this time?” I regularly asked myself. Soulstorm’s faults are a shame because its narrative and presentation brought a smile to my face. Abe and his pals are goofy, delightful underdogs I couldn’t help but root for. The enjoyable story is packed with heart, and the cutscenes look great. I wanted to welcome Abe into a new generation of gaming with open arms, but Soulstorm fails to make a case for why its brand of cinematic platforming works today. In fact, Soulstorm only reaffirmed that Abe’s past adventures are best viewed with rose-colored glasses.

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    8 Tips You Should Know Before Jumping into Necromunda: Underhive Wars

    Necromunda: Underhive Wars, the tactical RPG adaptation of Games Workshop’s legendary tabletop game, comes to Xbox One today. Before you hurl yourself into the brutal gang wars of the Underhive’s endless halls, factories, and slums, here are 8 tips you should keep in mind to help you crush the competition and rise to the top.

    1 – Jump into the campaign to learn the ropes

    Learn the ins and outs of destroying your enemy through the 15-mission story campaign. You’ll be introduced to all core game mechanics and the three playable gangs, along with their strengths, perks, and more at your own pace. You’ll get your fair share of allegiances, backstabbing, and utter bloody carnage as well, courtesy of Necromunda-veteran and Underhive Wars writer, Andy Chambers.

    Necromunda: Underhive Wars

    2 – Take full advantage of the gridless Movement System

    Before you rush off and get ambushed by an Orlock, chopped up by an Escher, or squashed by a Goliath around a corner, consider where you’re going. Thanks to its gridless movement system, Necromunda: Underhive Wars gives you considerable freedom in where you go, how you go there, and the precision of your positioning.

    3 – Use the Underhive’s environment to your advantage

    The Underhive is a huge and inhospitable place, full of deadly traps and hazards. Use them to gain an edge over the enemy. Lure foes into deadly gas vents before ziplining to safety, or make use of barricades to make your gangers harder to hit… The possibilities are endless, so always look out for interactive objects, natural choke points as well as cover opportunities, and make the most of them.

    Necromunda: Underhive Wars

    4 – Secure the high ground whenever possible

    In Necromunda, reaching the top is both a figurative and literal goal. High ground grants you significant bonuses to both ranged accuracy and resistance. Some skills also require gangers to be more elevated than their target to be usable. Once you’re up there, you’ll want to defend your advantage and prevent the enemy from reaching you, by using tools like the stances described next.

    5 – Controlling enemy movements: Overwatch and Ambush

    On their turn, your gangers can adopt defensive stances like Overwatch and Ambush. This will cause them to automatically attack moving enemies that might later come into melee or firing range. Foes caught off-guard by these will also be interrupted, forced to lock the movement points previously allocated to get them to their current position – a very efficient way to make sure your opponent has to commit to a position where you have the advantage.

    Necromunda: Underhive Wars

    6 – Special Weapon Skills

    Make sure to make full use of your special weapon skills, such as Trick Shot, Heavy Barrage, and Aimed Shot. These will let you take down several enemies, cover a large area with a hail of bullets, and cause debuffs and massive damage to priority targets. Also keep your gang’s particular perks in mind, changing your gameplay to suit their strengths. Escher, for instance, will cause extra poison damage in melee combat, further weakening their opponents.

    7 – Sabotage & Tinker

    The Saboteur and Lay Mechanic classes can turn the machines and hazards of the Underhive to their will. Sabotage an interactable object to make it ineffective or dangerous to unsuspecting enemies, or repair it with Tinker skill. Control over interactables like elevators, ziplines and health dispensers adds another layer of tactics to the battlefield, so make sure you don’t overlook them.

    Necromunda: Underhive Wars

    8 – Upgrade and Synergize your Fighters

    Your gang is yours to mold to your needs. Start by recruiting a leader, then customize the loadouts of your gang’s 15 fighters down to the smallest detail, choosing the way you want to fight. Prioritize complementary skills and passive abilities, as your forces rank-up and grow in power, choosing from 5 distinct fighter careers as well as numerous weapons, armour pieces and consumables. As your gangers develop, they will also gain injuries and various natural talents, which you’ll also need to manage in order to build the right team to complete your objectives.

    We hope these tips will help you in your many upcoming battles for survival and domination of the Underhive. Pick your gang, recruit fighters, customize them, and then lead your forces to brutal and endless gang conflict on Xbox One.

    Welcome to Necromunda. Welcome to the Underhive Wars.

    Necromunda: Underhive Wars

    Necromunda: Underhive Wars

    Xbox Live

    Xbox Live

    Necromunda: Underhive Wars

    Focus Home Interactive

    Deep below the nightmarish, polluted hive cities of Necromunda, in the twisted, vertiginous, dark tunnels of the Underhive, rival gangs fight to the bitter end for personal power, wealth, survival and the honour of their Houses. Only the strongest survive. Lead, customize, and grow your gangs of Escher, Goliath, and Orlock. Specialize each member and send them to battle in hazardous dystopian environments. Exploit the terrain in tactical gunfights: climb raised walkways to take advantage, set traps, and ambush foes to force them into bloody melee engagements. Learn new skills, loot equipment and bring your evolved gang to 4-player online gang fights. • Lead and evolve your gangs in this compelling tactical-RPG • Follow a rich narrative campaign in the Underhive • Engage in immersive and persistent game modes • First video game adaptation from mythical tabletop game Necromunda, the most famous Hive World of Warhammer 40,000 • Play solo or join thrilling 4-way online gang fights

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