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Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath

Oddworld's back, but not as you might remember it. No longer are you playing as a gawky, flatulent Mudokon or cute little Gabbit. Now you're a properly cool character. An outlaw who goes by the name Stranger, a dude with a voice deep enough to threaten Michael 'voice of Sam Fisher' Ironside's masculinity.

Set in the wild west, Stranger's Wrath doesn't only feature a new lead character, it also strays away from the puzzly platforming gameplay of the previous games. Third-person jumping bits are still in there, but now you can switch to a first-person view, allowing you to shoot enemies using a crossbow. This is just as effective as in any first-person shooter.

The only difference is that the ammo you're firing is 'live ammo'. Little beasties that inhabit Oddworld can be pinged from the crossbow, different critters having different effects. A Fuzzle, for instance, has a formidable gob full of sharp teeth. They cling to a person and chomp away on them for a limited time, making them leap around the place trying to shake them off. The Skunkbomb meanwhile is a stinky little creature that causes people nearby to vomit before passing out. These beasties might be cute, but they're as effective as any shotgun.

Shooting isn't the only thing this game gets right. If you prefer, you can tackle any mission stealthily using your radar to see where enemies are and to help you stay out of their line of sight.

Hiding in long grass will ensure you're not pounced on at all angles by angry criminals. Certain ammo can be used as bait to attract enemies or direct them to where you want 'em. Even months before release, this looks and plays beautifully. A contender for one of the best Xbox games of next year? Almost certainly.

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath will be released for Xbox in March

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