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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    Fast & Furious: Spy Racers

    Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Heads to Rio de Janeiro in Season 2 Trailer

    Fast & Furious: Spy Racers heads to Rio de Janeiro in season 2 trailer Universal and DreamWorks Animation have debuted the first trailer for the second season of the hit Netflix Original series Fast & Furious: Spy Racers, which finds the team heading to Rio de Janeiro and is set to debut on October 9. The trailer can be viewed in the player below! RELATED: New Over the Moon Trailer & Key Art for the Netflix Animated Adventure Inspired by Universal’s blockbuster Fast & Furious franchise, teenager Tony Toretto follows in the footsteps of his cousin Dom when he and his friends are recruited by a government agency to infiltrate an elite racing league serving as a front for a nefarious crime organization bent on world domination. In Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rio, Tony and his crew embark on their first international mission to Brazil. Once in Rio, they discover that Ms. Nowhere’s latest recruit and formidable fellow racer, Layla Gray, is missing in action during an undercover mission. Unwilling to leave family behind, Tony and the Spy Racers don secret identities to find Layla, but end up uncovering a sinister plot that keeps them guessing at every turn. “Going into season two we really wanted to see the team progress and take on new challenges. We meet a new villain this season that I guarantee is unlike anyone we’ve ever battled in the Fast universe”, said executive producer Tim Hedrick. “Look forward to more of the nonstop crazy fun that these Spy Racers are known for.” Tim Hedrick and Bret Haaland serve as executive producers and showrunners. Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz and Chris Morgan also executive produce and serve as producers on the live-action Fast & Furious franchise. Fast & Furious: Spy Racers features the talented voices of Tyler Posey (Alone; Teen Wolf) as “Tony Toretto,” Charlet Chung (Overwatch; Chuck) as “Echo,” Luke Youngblood (Community) as “Frostee Benson,” Jorge Diaz (Jane the Virgin) as “Cisco Renaldo,” Camille Ramsey (American Vandal) as “Layla Gray,” Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton;  Altered Carbon) as “Ms. Nowhere,” and Avrielle Corti (Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts) as “Rafaela. RELATED: Father of the Bride Netflix Reunion Special Trailer Released The second season of Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rio debuts on Netflix October 9. 

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