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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    The OnePlus 9 series shall debut with Hasselblad-tuned cameras on March 23rd

    OnePlus will unveil its latest flagship smartphones – the OnePlus 9 5G series – throughout a streaming launch event at 9 AM Eastern on March 23rd. So when those phones make their debut, they’ll pack cameras tuned by 180-year-old Swedish camera maker Hasselblad.

    “With OnePlus’ top-of-the-line hardware and computational photography and Hasselblad’s rich aesthetic knowledge in traditional photography, I’m confident that the OnePlus 9 Series is a major revolution in our capability to deliver reduced, flagship camera,” said OnePlus CEO Pete Lau in a news release.

    Word of the partnership won’t come just as much surprise to the business’s fans: leaked images of an unreleased OnePlus device sporting Hasselblad branding have already been circulating for weeks. And much more recently, OnePlus has shared several space-themed teasers that reference the offer obliquely. (Hasselblad has supplied NASA with cameras for used in space for many years, like the venerable Hasselblad 500ELs that landed on the moon with Neil Buzz and Armstrong Aldrin. ) But what does this deal mean for the OnePlus camera experience actually?

    To start out, the OnePlus 9 series should reap the benefits of “advanced color calibration” jointly produced by both companies. Long story short, users should expect more accurate, natural-looking colors in photos taken with the OnePlus 9 beyond and Pro. And since Hasselblad deals exclusively in pro-grade almost, medium-format cameras, it’s perhaps natural that special attention was paid to the OnePlus 9 series’ Pro mode. Along with typical features like direct control over ISO, focus, exposure time, and much more, the Hasselblad Pro mode also lets users shoot photos as 12-bit RAW files and use an editing interface inspired by Hasselblad’s own Phocus image processing app. Meanwhile, on the video front, OnePlus says its Hasselblad-branded cameras will offer you “improved” HDR video recording, plus support for 4K 120FPS and 8K 30FPS recording.

    Hasselblad bits aside, the OnePlus 9 Pro is likely to ship with four rear cameras widely, today and the business revealed several new information regarding them. The phone’s main camera use among Sony’s new IMX789 sensors, which we’ve heard was custom-developed for the upcoming OPPO Find X3. (Given OnePlus’s shared corporate parentage with OPPO, this really must not be a shocker.) OnePlus also confirmed that its latest ultra-wide camera use a so-called “freeform” lens – as seen on the Huawei Mate 40 Pro+ – that and all but eliminates barrel distortion in those spacious photos.

    With all of this in mind, there are some things worth noting. For just one, despite OnePlus’s embrace of space imagery in its recent teasers, the ongoing company has made no reference to a Pixel-like astrophotography mode. Also, Hasselblad’s cope with OnePlus can last for 3 years, and it’s really unclear how OnePlus’s method of color science may shift following the partnership expires. Which isn’t Hasselblad’s first attempt at a smartphone partnership, either – years back, it teamed up with Motorola to produce a separate 12-megapixel camera that magnetically mounted on Moto Z smartphones. (Spoiler alert: It had been just alright.)

    Since it works out, the OnePlus 9 is area of the company’s plans to create new standards for smartphone photography. On the next 3 years, OnePlus has pledged $150 million to “further develop” four camera research and development centers all over the world, along with test out new camera technologies and components to debut in future devices. On the docket at this time: developing panoramic cameras with a 140-degree field of view and new lenses to boost autofocus for selfies, although ongoing company was quick to notice its efforts may extend well beyond these projects.

    OnePlus cameras have improved through the years, however they have so lagged behind competing offerings from companies like Samsung and Apple far. With this particular multi-year deal set up, OnePlus seems prepared to up its photography game dramatically, but also for now, consider us optimistic cautiously. Divorce lawyer atlanta, the business’s March 23rd launch event could have a lot of sample images – and much more juicy information regarding its Hasselblad deal – for all of us to pore over.

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