Almost exactly a year ago I sat and typed up my review of First/Third Person Shooter hybrid `Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD' for the PS3. Despite a few niggles I absolutely loved the game. "There's no doubt about it, Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD is punching well above its £9.99 price bracket," I said. "The production values coupled with over ten hours of quality gameplay mean the game would easily be worth £40 if stuck on the shelf of your local retailer."
"Frustrating difficulty spikes aside, Stranger's Wrath had me hooked throughout. If TSA did half marks, this would be a well-deserved 9.5." Well the good news is that now the game has made its way to the PlayStation Vita. Can it make a big impact on the small screen?
Firstly I should point out that if you're really interested in picking up the game then you should check out my review of the PS3 version. I wrote a heck of a lot of words for it, and to do it all again would involve a lot of repetition. This article is to highlight how well the game has been ported to the Vita.
There are two big questions that I have been asked about when talking about Stranger's Wrath on the Vita - is it a Cross-Buy game, and does it feature Cross-Saves from the PS3 version. Well, the answer is no and no. With regards to the Cross-Saves, Sony has a limit on file sizes which Just Add Water couldn't meet (although not for lack of trying). In terms of download size this version weighs in at 1.5GB, which I was pleasantly surprised at.
Visually the game should please Vita owners as, despite looking jaggier than the PS3 release, it has lost none of its charm. Compare this to recent releases such as Resistance: Burning Skies and there's just no contest; Stranger's Wrath wins hands down. It's especially nice to see that the fabulous game world hasn't been compromised, and seems just as I remembered from last year. The screenshots don't really do the game justice - you have to see it running on the Vita's beautiful OLED screen to get the full effect.
Sound quality, too, seems unaffected when listening through a set of headphones, with the familiar title screen music booming out, and Stranger's musings every time you press the square button.
With the Vita having so many control methods, the temptation must have been there to shoehorn in a load of features. Luckily Just Add Water has kept things to a minimum, and it works fine for the most part. Character movement is via the left analogue stick, with the right being used to manoeuvre the camera in third person mode, and to look up and down in first person mode. Upon starting the game I suggest digging into the menus and adjusting the speed of the third person camera, as the default setting seems far too sluggish, which you might not notice at first but can become a real pain when you come under heavy attack.
Switching between third and first person mode is a case of double-tapping the touch screen, which actually works perfectly fine. My initial worry was that this might become cumbersome during boss fights, but a couple of hours in and it has been no bother what-so-ever.
What I'm not a fan of is the melee attacks being mapped to the rear touch pad when you're in first person view. I have rather large hands (yes yes, settle down) so frequently found myself brushing the rear touch pad and causing Stranger to melee attack when I didn't want him to. Hardly game-breaking, but worth mentioning.
So - is Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD on the Vita worth your hard-earned £9.99? If you haven't played the PS3 version then the answer is "absolutely". All of the praise I lavished upon the game back in 2011 still holds true today. The story is interesting, the world is brilliant, the gameplay refreshing and the Live Ammo system is still a joy to use. £9.99 for a 10-12 hour game of this calibre is an absolute steal, and Vita owners should lap this up.