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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    Inside Xbox Series X|S Optimized: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2

    One of the primary great things about all that power in the hardware is giving developers the opportunity to make games which are Xbox Series X|S Optimized. Which means that they’ve taken full benefit of the initial capabilities of Xbox Series X|S, S development environment, along with released titles which have been rebuilt designed for the console previously. Inside our Inside Xbox Series X Optimized series, producers will share their behind-the-scenes accounts of how they’re optimizing titles for Xbox Series X|S and what which means for future years of gaming. Today, we’ll be communicating with Activision Producer Jason Coker about optimizing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 for Xbox Series X|S. Also, week on Xbox browse the game doing his thing with today’s This.


    Q: “What excites you most about developing and bringing THPS 1+2 alive on next-generation hardware?”

    A: We’ve a good remaster in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 really, and the energy of Xbox Series X|S we can take something great and ensure it is better still than we’d imagined. From frame rates to improved visual effects to the pure speed in performance, it’s essentially like supercharging a supercar. 

    Q: Along with benefiting from the energy and performance of Xbox Series X|S for quicker load times etc., what Xbox Series X|S features were you most excited to explore leveraging in the development of THPS 1+2 ?

    A: The raw horsepower of the brand new Xbox gave us the opportunity to push visuals even more, that is a huge win for all of us.  We leveraged the faster GPU to provide higher native resolutions ( Note: The Xbox Series X version of the overall game will run native 4K at 60 FPS, as the Xbox Series S version shall render at 1440P and upscale to 4K. You shall require a 4K compatible display for 4K resolution .), also to enhance the game’s visuals through better quality shadows and atmospherics (bloom, lens flare, reflections).  We increased the texture quality applied to the in-game skaters also.

    Quick resume is an excellent feature also.  While we’d think it’s great if players were on THPS always, they’ll need to turn off their sleep and Xboxes sometimes, plus they might play other games occasionally even. With Quick resume players can jump directly into THPS mid-grind without missing a beat back, and the speedy hard disk drive makes the knowledge much smoother.

    It had been also an easy task to support cross-generation save files on Xbox for players who go from playing THPS on Xbox Someone to Xbox Series X|S. It’s an extremely seamless and smooth experience for the players, also it was straightforward to implement. 

    Q: How will these enhancements impact a player’s experience with THPS 1+2 ?

    A: The excess graphical horsepower allowed us to accomplish a deeper dive into making the overall game more visually immersive.  The lighting, HDR, atmospheric effects, improved framerates – it looks so amazing that it’s sometimes only a fun to view someone play since it is usually to be at the controls as you have more possibility to soak in the entire whole screen and really appreciate the upgraded visuals.  Likewise, the smooth framerates make everything feel silky smooth.  Lots of work went into making certain this remaster was true to the feel of the initial two games, even though we tweaked the initial controls for a better experience certainly, playing on next gen is merely this overall revolution in the appearance and feel of the overall game that I believe players will be impressed.

    Q: Why did your development team elect to concentrate on [[email protected] on Series X; 1440p @60 on Series S, cross progression support, spatialized audio, high fidelity atmospherics, etc.] as enhancement areas for THPS 1+2?

    A: Playing at 60fps with 4K makes everything look at feel really fluid, and we felt like this was an essential and special feature for players.  Plenty of players of the initial games could have that ol’ THPS muscle memory after they get their practical the controls, and the improvements we designed to the controls are that far better with a frequent, higher frame rate.  Add the truth that it looks gorgeous at 60fps absolutely, S.

    Q: How can you expect fans of THPS 1+2 will react to playing it on Xbox Series X|S with one of these enhancements?

    A: I’m sure that they’ll think it’s great.  Beyond another gen enhancements even, you will find loads of improvements and new features to the overall game which make it a fresh experience even for old school fans.  The extensive Challenge system, robust Create-a-Park having the ability to share and remix parks, Create-a-Skater, 8 player online multiplayer, improved controls, and extra moves that weren’t in the initial games certainly are a few just. It’s super friendly to newer players also, so we be prepared to see a totally new generation of THPS lovers. Add all those with the charged power of next gen, and it’s a recipe for an ideal remaster.

    Q: What is it truly like developing on Xbox Series X|S?

    A: The faster hardware made smoother the complete development experience go. For instance, it is possible to iterate a lot more quickly with the fast load times due to the new hard disk drive performance. This allowed us to invest more time concentrating on making the very best game possible.

    Q: Which enhancement were you most worked up about to explore leveraging for THPS 1+2 on Xbox Series X|S?

    A: Performance improvements in new hardware are always exciting. Tony Hawk is focused on twitch gameplay, therefore the possiblity to offer 120 FPS at 1080p was super compelling. Also, we felt that the game’s photorealistic art style and highly detailed environments managed to get an ideal candidate for leaning into increased lighting, shadow, and effects quality.

    Q: What does Xbox Series X|S development enable in current or future projects you could not need achieved with the prior generation of consoles?”

    A: The SSD can be an absolute game changer. S, and for games with an increase of traditional loading, creative developers can hide their loading transitions to provide players a far more fluid and immersive experience by keeping players in as soon as. It’s a genuine way to keep carefully the narrative moving also to keep players engrossed in what’s happening in-game. There’s also that degree of visual fidelity that wasn’t possible before, and that only gets better as time passes as developers learn new methods to leverage the hardware.

    Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 can be acquired now on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. Find out more about it here.

    Tony Hawk's™ Pro Skater™ 1 + 2 - Xbox Series X|S Tony Hawk's™ Pro Skater™ 1 + 2 - Xbox Series X|S

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    Tony Hawk’s™ Pro Skater™ 1 + 2 – Xbox Series X|S

    Activision Publishing Inc.


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    Drop in with iconic skateboarding games available back. Play Tony Hawk’s™ Pro Skater™ & Tony Hawk’s™ Pro Skater™ 2 in a single epic collection, rebuilt from the bottom in incredible HD up. All of the pro skaters, levels and tricks are and fully-remastered back, plus much more.

    – Skate because the legendary Tony Hawk and the entire pro roster, plus new pros
    – Skate to songs from the era-defining soundtrack alongside new music
    – Hit insane trick combos with the iconic handling of the Tony Hawk’s™ Pro Skater™ series
    – Play all of the original game modes and go head-to-head with local 2-Player modes
    – Show off your creativity and style with upgraded Create-A-Park and Create-A-Skater features
    – Take your sessions online and compete against players from around the global world in Multiplayer modes and leaderboards

    Break skateboarding boundaries, showcase your personal style, and become area of the next generation of skaters and creators with Tony Hawk’s™ Pro Skater™ 1 + 2.

    Certain functionality and elements require web connection and Xbox Live Gold subscription, sold separately. Storage requirements at the mercy of change. Mandatory updates may be necessary to play. Downloadable content may be distributed around purchase. Activision makes no guarantee concerning the option of online play or features and could modify or discontinue those at its discretion with reasonable notice. Utilizing the software constitutes acceptance of the program License & Service Privacy and Agreement Policy offered by support.activision.com/license.

    © 2020-2021 Activision Publishing Inc. ACTIVISION and PRO SKATER are trademarks of Activision Publishing, Inc. Tony Hawk is really a registered trademark of Tony Hawk, Inc. All the trade and trademarks names are property of these respective owners.

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