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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    Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro will reportedly cost $199

    WalkingCat We’ve already learned a lot about Samsung’s upcoming wireless Galaxy Buds Pro thanks to a leak on Samsung’s own site, but one key detail was missing: the price. According to slides leaked on Twitter by WalkingCat and spotted by The Verge, however, it looks like they’ll cost $199 — $30 more than Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live, but a good $50 cheaper than the AirPods Pro from Apple. We already know that the Buds Pro will have active noise cancellation (ANC), an egg-like shape with soft ear canal tips, customizable touch controls, voice detect and more. The latest leak, however, shows what’s inside, including an 11mm woofer and 6.5mm tweeter that will deliver “immersive sound.” WalkingCat It also confirms ANC with level control to let you block out more or less surrounding noise, along with a conversation mode, ambient sound controls and noise-free calls. Samsung also apparently confirmed the spatial audio feature along with a “new Galaxy Buds widget,” and said the Buds will offer IPX7 water resistance. The leak, if accurate, confirms that the Galaxy Buds will be competitively priced, but whether they’re worth it depends on the sound and ANC quality. We won’t have to wait long to find out, as the Galaxy Buds Pro are due to be launched in January 2021 along with the Galaxy S21 smartphones. In this article: Samsung, Galaxy Buds Pro, earbuds, wireless, ANC, leak, spatial audio, 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.

    Tye Sheridan Talks Wireless

    CS Interviews: Tye Sheridan Talks Wireless The fantastic new mini-series Wireless is currently streaming on Quibi and to celebrate we sat down and discussed the show with star Tye Sheridan and the actor discussed everything from the technical challenges presented by the show’s unique new format and also shared his thoughts on cell phones and their place in society. In Wireless, on a sparsely traveled road deep in the Colorado mountains, college student Andy Braddock (Sheridan) drives to a New Year’s Eve party to try to rekindle a relationship with his ex-girlfriend. Distracted by his phone, Andy collides with a snowbank and hurtles into a ravine. Wounded and alone, Andy turns to his quickly dying cell for rescue, but help is far from a phone call away. From executive producer Steven Soderbergh comes a suspense thriller like no other, as the viewer takes the story into their own hands. Two narratives play out simultaneously: watch horizontally for a cinematic view; twist vertically to experience Andy’s phone as your own, as he fights to stay alive. The series also stars Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Lukas Gage (Euphoria), Francesca Reale (Stranger Things Season 2), and Mace Coronel (Nicky Ricky Dicky and Dawn. RELATED: Amazon Orders Spin-Off of Superhero Hit The Boys! The series is created by newcomers Zach Wechter and Jack Seidman, who will also serve as executive producers with Wechter also set to direct. Michael Sugar, Cathy Konrad, and Danny Sherman will executive produce along with Propagate’s Ben Silverman, Howard Owens, Rodney Ferrell, and Greg Lipstone. Wireless is a co-production by Pickpocket, Treeline Film, and Propagate with Christian Heuer and Isabel San Vargas to produce. ComingSoon.net: Talk about Wireless – how did you get involved? What was your initial reaction to the script and concept? Tye Sheridan: I first watched Pocket, a short film directed by Zach Wechter and Mishka Kornai, and I thought “Alright, this is pretty interesting”. The film examines a year in the life of a 15 year old boy seen through the perspective of his iPhone, and it’s a “made-for-mobile” only film (you watch it in portrait mode rather than landscape). When I started digging in to Wireless a bit more, I was super intrigued by the “turnstyle” concept and the idea of the “iPhone” becoming an actual setting for this story. It felt very relevant to our current circumstance in society and the relationship that almost every one of us have with our smartphones. This new format became so exciting to me— because of the challenges that it would inspire and the opportunities it would present by working on something that was completely new and the “first of its kind”. Beyond the “first of its kind” technical format that the story is propelled by, I thought the plot was great, and I was excited by how “contemporary” it felt in contrast to some other projects that I’d worked on in the past. CS: How did you approach Andy? How was he different from other characters you’d portrayed in the past? Sheridan: I think the approach to Andy was mainly led by the core idea that he would represent and symbolize the relationship in which society has formed with their iPhone, social media profiles and the digital interface that we all connect through. It was very different than any other character I’ve played, simply because he was the most contemporary role I’ve had the opportunity of taking a crack at, and ultimately, I think we just wanted him to be a very relatable guy. CS: How difficult was the production to pull off? Was there an added difficulty in shooting the cell phone scenes? Sheridan: Indeed it was very difficult. We had only 19 days to shoot the entire project, and because the story occurs in two separate perspectives simultaneously (portrait and landscape), it was like making two films at once. The film was challenging on many different levels: technologically, time-wise, the frigid conditions that we were shooting in. Although capturing and executing this format was very challenging (mostly due to the fact that the iPhone isn’t specifically designed for this), it was all very authentic because we were able to capture the “phone call” scenes simultaneously in real-time. All of the FaceTime calls you see in the show were actually being screen recorded locally on the two separate iPhones while we performed the scenes in different locations. CS: In the film, Andy’s predicament comes partially due to his cell phone addiction – and yet, the cell phone helps him in various moments of the show as well. What are your overarching feelings about cell phones and their place in society? Sheridan: Well, that’s a great question because it brings us to the ultimate question that the show is provoking us to ask ourselves: Is my relationship with my iPhone good or bad? We see both the good and the bad in Andy’s relationship with his iPhone. My opinion is that it depends on how you use your iPhone, what you use it for. On one hand, they can be a great tool to help us do things faster, learn things faster, connect faster, store data that our brains aren’t capable of storing, but on the other hand, they can also act as huge distractions in our lives and inhibit our ability to be present in the world. It may be the ultimate Paradox in society today… CS: What is the core theme of Wireless, in your opinion? Sheridan: The story explores many themes, and I think each person that sees the show may take away something different. For me, I would say that the core theme ultimately reflects Andy’s biggest overcoming— which is his realization that he’s been living his life within a lie. He’s lied to his family, his friends, even to himself, and that can be a very difficult hole to dig yourself out of, but he knows that if he doesn’t do it, it’ll weigh him down forever and keep him from growing into a better person. CS: You spend the entire series alone. How difficult was it to act by yourself? Sheridan: There were a lot of different elements that made this project very challenging, but I’d say that acting alone wasn’t really one of them. In fact, I’m so grateful that all of the phone calls, FaceTime calls, and text exchanges (imessage and tinder) that you see in the show were all happening in real time, so I actually got to perform these scenes with our other cast members as they were shot. Zach Wechter was adamant about doing this because he felt that it was the only way to make it feel truly authentic within this format, and I agree with him. CS: What was it like filming with Zach Wechter? Sheridan: Oh I love him. He really is such a genius, and a professional. No matter what situation we found ourselves in throughout production, Zach always rose above and came through in very big ways. He’s constantly pushing the boundaries of narrative into new and exciting places, and I believe that he will have a very important impact on the future of filmmaking as it pertains to its digital form. CS: Ready Player 2 is coming out – have you heard anything in regard to a film that you can share with us? And as a side, if Steven Spielberg isn’t involved, who would be your pick to helm the film? Sheridan: I’m so excited to read the new book, and I really wish I could tell you that there was another film in the works. There may be, but at this moment, I have no idea what the plans are exactly, and frankly, it’s out of my hands. I’d love to work on a sequel and get the gang back though, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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