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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    Jeep's Wagoneer lineup is packed with touchscreens and technology

    Last seen in 1993, Jeep's Wagoneer is back and big in every sense of the word — including the amount of technology found inside. The classic large luxury SUV brand (which surely inspired the Simpson's "Canyonero") has multiple touchscreens, support for both Apple and Android entertainment systems and even video streaming via Amazon's Fire TV. The big daddy Grand Wagoneer packs up to no less than four touch displays to fill out that enormous dash. That includes a 12.3-inch digital dash cluster, along with a 12-inch infotainment system. The latter uses the latest version of Chrysler/Jeep's Uconnect 5, and also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Sitting directly below that is a 10.3-inch display that lets you control the climate and seats. (On the regular Wagoneer, you get smaller 10.3- and 10.1-inch displays for the digital dash and infotainment display, respectively.) Stellantis Those are just for the driver — the front passenger gets their own (optional) 10.3-inch touchscreen that allows them to watch movies, monitor the vehicle and more. Rear passengers get a pair of matching 10.1-inch displays, also optional. All three of those screens let passengers control navigation and media, monitor the external cameras, and play your own content via the aforementioned Android Auto/Apple CarPlay or Uconnect. As we detailed last week, you can also stream video using Amazon's Fire TV for Auto with Alexa, giving passengers access to Amazon's library of Prime Video shows. You'll also be able to play games, use apps and access Alexa on the road through Fire TV for Auto. The rest of the interior is a lux as you'd expect in such an SUV, equipped with what Jeep calls an "American premium" design (the word "American" appears no less than 32 times in the Wagoneer press release). You're coddled with wood, aluminum and leather throughout and the Grand Wagoneer has 24-way adjustable power seats, with lumbar support and memory settings. The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer offer 94.2 and 116.7 cubic feet of storage space, respectively. Pricing starts at just under $60,000, but to get all the tech bells and whistles, you'll pay up to $105,995 for the Grand Wagoneer Series III.

    Vudu is here on Amazon's Fire TV platform

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    Watch Amazon's entire new hardware event the following

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    Amazon's Fire TV Stick Lite offers HD streaming for $30

    Sponsored Links Amazon As expected, Amazon just announced a new low-cost streaming media player. When the Fire TV Stick Lite becomes available later this month, it will set you back a mere $30. For that price, you get a streaming device that supports Full HD playback with HDR and comes with a redesigned Alexa Voice Remote that skips on volume and power buttons. Amazon is also refreshing the original Fire TV Stick, which was discontinued recently. According to Amazon, the $40 device features a quad-core processor that is 50 percent more powerful than the one in the company’s previous model. It also features support for HD streaming, HDR, Dolby Atmos (but no Dolby Vision) and support for dual-band 802.11ac WiFi. For that extra $10, you also get a remote that includes TV controls. Like the Fire TV Stick Lite, it will be available later this month. In addition to new hardware, Amazon announced that it has a new Fire TV experience in the works. You’ll be able to check out the new interface on both the Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite. As for what’s new, the company says it makes finding the content you want to watch more intuitive, with a redesigned main menu that highlights your favorite streaming services. That’s also a new Find experience that aids with discovering new movies and TV shows to watch. Catch up on all of the news from Amazon's 2020 hardware event right here! In this article: amazon, av, amazon2020, Fire TV Stick Lite, gadgets, Fire TV, gadgetry, 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 65 Shares Share Tweet Share

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