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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    Chrome for Android enables you to preview web links

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    The OnePlus 8 is $100 off before OnePlus 8T launch

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    iOS doesn’t have to be similar to Android, it requires more Google just

    Apple’s iOS 14 has taken some heat for copying Android features. The most obvious example being the new customizable widgets (iOS had widgets before, but it was limited to the left-most screen of the main menu). Another big change is the introduction of the App Library, a decluttered app screen that’s suspiciously similar to Android’s app drawer. There are other changes, too, such as a discreet view for Siri that won’t take over your whole display, and a new picture-in-picture mode. And yes, these are features that we’ve seen on Android as well. But for me, the real star of iOS 14 is not quite so obvious (It’s so low-key that Apple didn’t mention it at its WWDC keynote). It’s the fact that, at long last, iOS now lets you pick your own default email and browser apps. This one feature, more than any other, is what I feel is a key factor in preventing me from switching to Android. That’s because, as an iOS user, it is not Android that I find attractive -- it’s Google. Even though I’ve used several Android handsets over the years, I’ve always stuck with an iPhone. For one thing, I’m so invested in the ecosystem at this point (I’ve purchased many apps, several of which are iOS-only) that switching to another platform would be too painful.  But the main reason that I still have an iPhone, despite the many advantages of Android, is simply force of habit. Its interface, design language and keyboard feel so much like second nature that I can’t get used to anything else. This is a huge reason why Android’s widgets and home screens simply don’t appeal to me: I just never saw the need for them. Even now, after I’ve installed iOS 14, I haven’t bothered adding a widget or cleaning up my home screen, because I just like it the way it is. I suspect many other iOS users feel the same.  Chesnot via Getty Images For me, the main benefit that Android has over iOS has never been its design or its interface or anything like that. The main advantages with Android, in my view, are the features. Specifically, its compatibility with Google’s apps and services. That’s because, as much as I like iOS, Google is the world in which I live. I use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Photos and Chrome literally every day. I find Google services easier and more pleasant to use, and I like that it all syncs together. The fact that Android comes with Gmail, Chrome and all the usual Google services by default, working seamlessly with a single sign-on, is great. That hasn’t been the case with iOS, and one can certainly understand why. Apple obviously wants you to use its own apps and services over the competition. Sure, third-party apps like Gmail and Chrome have been around for a few years now but there were always certain restrictions. The biggest hassle is that tapping on an email link in an app or in Safari would often kick me over the default Apple Mail app rather than Gmail (If you tapped on an email link in the Chrome app, it does let you go to Gmail however). Now, thanks to iOS 14, this is no longer a problem.  Of course, it’s likely that Apple isn't allowing this in iOS 14 out of the goodness of its heart. Instead, it could be a tactical move. The company is already facing serious antitrust scrutiny as well as accusations that it holds an App Store monopoly, partially due to the 30 percent commission it charges developers (This is the basis of Epic’s recent legal battle with Apple). Perhaps, by ceding ground on default iOS apps, Apple could be heading off concerns that it holds a monopoly over that at the very least. It is not unlike when Microsoft was forced to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows in 2009 due to European regulations.  Be that as it may, this could be a sign of greater things to come. It’s given me a glimmer of hope that other Google apps, like Calendar and Maps for example, could be given the default treatment too. Of course, there are many things that Android still does better than iOS, such as managing notifications, app permission handling, Live Transcribe, the ability to sideload apps not from an App Store, and more. But if all I get is greater access to Google’s apps and services while still keeping the phone I like, I’d be happy. In this article: Gmail, ios, iOS 14, Android, widgets, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 382 Shares Share Tweet Share

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