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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    Twitter's changes since the June attack include requiring security keys

    Sponsored Links JasonDoiy via Getty Images Back in July, Twitter became the target of cyberattackers that hijacked high-profile accounts to run a bitcoin scam. Now, the company has published a post detailing how it’s keeping Twitter secure and making sure that incident won’t happen again, especially since it’s election season in the US. For starters, it has been strengthening the rigorous checks team members with access to customer data must undergo. As the company explains, some of its teams need access to user data to keep Twitter running. While it usually only grants them access for valid reasons, such as to help users who’ve been locked out of their accounts, it’s had to tighten its measures even further. In its first statement issued after the July attack, Twitter said the infiltrators staged a coordinated social engineering attack targeting employees with access to internal systems and tools. (A Wired report reveals what happened behind the scenes after the attack, such as the company having employees change passwords in front of their managers and having to prove they are who they say they are.) As an additional measure, Twitter started distributing phishing-resistant security keys to its employees and requiring its teams around the world to use them. Google implemented the measure in 2017 to great success: A year after making it mandatory for employees to use physical security keys for two-factor authentication, the tech giant announced that it has “no reported or confirmed account takeovers” anymore. Twitter required all new employees to go through security, privacy and data protection trainings, as well. Those who have access to non-public data had to attend additional mandatory training sessions on how they can avoid becoming phishing targets for attackers. The company also said that it’s been constantly improving its internal detection and monitoring tools that alert the company of possible unauthorized access attempts. As for its election-specific efforts, Twitter said it recently implemented heightened security measures for election-related Twitter accounts in the US. A few days ago, it started sending them in-app notifications on new security requirements going forward, such as enabling password reset protection for accounts by default. It also conducted additional penetration testing and scenario planning over the past months. From March 1st to August 1st, for instance, its cross-functional elections team performed exercises on how to deal with hacks, leaks of stole materials, foreign interference and coordinated online voter suppression campaigns, among other scenarios. As a closer to its post, Twitter promised to roll out improvements to its privacy settings in the near future: “We are continuing to invest more in the teams, technology, and resources to support this critical work. We also know that we can do more to make it easier for you to find and use the settings and controls we offer, so we’re working on rolling out improvements to the design and navigation of our privacy settings. You’ll see these improvements in Twitter soon.” In this article: Twitter, security, 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 60 Shares Share Tweet Share

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