Welcome to The TPS Report, home to video game blogs, mix sets and even the odd piece o' 3D art.

Broke arse student, freelance games reviewer and rambling obsessive that I am, I currently seek work in mags and web sites throughout the world. If you're in a position to make that happen - and like what you see around here - let me know. I've published work with the likes of IGN and Gaming Steve.

-Matt/Diggler

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Preview Time! Games to Look Out For in 2011
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2010's Games of Shame
6/1/2011 22:47

My Fave Games of 2010!
6/1/2011 20:12

StarCraft II Review - Dig Loveth the RTS!?
7/11/2010 12:48

10 Must-Have iPhone Games
2/6/2010 18:09

A Little Hotlink to An Article I Stuck Up On GiantBomb
21/4/2010 15:01

Aliens Vs Predator is Here! Woo! Oh, Hang On...
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iPhone Games!
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WTF? Dig's Getting Hitched!
18/2/2010 23:39

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If interested in discussing writing opportunities for on or offline gaming publications - either UK based or abroad - please contact me via E-Mail. Sparkling CV available on request

 

 

Review of Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath On Xbox
Posted by Diggler - 19/1/2005 14:37

Click to enlarge
Meet Stranger. He's Boba Fett, Master Chief and the Tazmanian Devil all rolled into one
I admit I've had scarce experience with the Oddworld series before this. I think I played the first one briefly on the original Playstation, and gave the last game a quick bash in demo form many years back, but it all stops there. I have little clue who Abe is, and Munch's Oddysee sounds more like the kind of trips I take to the fridge in the middle of the night than any sort of game. An Oddworld expert, I'm not.

With that in mind, it matters fuck all - the third and latest Oddworld title is 100% playable for both seasoned vets and newcomers alike. It's set in the same universe, and much like the recent GoldenEye leeches an audience off fans of the franchise by "borrowing" the name, but really that's about all it has in common with its predecessors as far as I can tell. Not only has the genre undergone some changes, but you play a brand new character in a brand new adventure too.

That character is the "Stranger" of the title in fact - something of a brooding bounty hunter type. As the Stranger it's your job to traverse the weird and wonderful Oddworld universe, capturing wanted criminals, bashing the fook out of their cronies, and making some major cash along the way. This cash can then be used to purchase upgrades and items as you progress. Sounds pretty standard in theory, but once you see this thing in motion for the first time it becomes clear that it's anything but average. For one thing, it's essentially two games for the price of one.

Halo Meets Prince of Persia

Click to enlarge
Stranger regularly returns to town to drop off bounties and take new jobs
By that, I mean it seamlessly melds two genres together absolutely seamlessly. On the one hand you're hopping around platforms in third person, with the odd bit of rope climbing and beat 'em up action, but at the click of a button you can whip out your heavily enhanced twin barrel crossbow at any time and switch to insta-first person mode for a more hardcore FPS approach.

The constant switching between third and first person mode is no mere gimmick either - each one plays completely differently to the other and thus each provides its own unique usefulness at specific points. Neither has been suitably beefed up over its counterpart either - both elements are equally as impressive as each other, and could happily stand up against their peers in either field.

The twin-barrelled crossbow also adds its own originality to the proceedings; not only does it allow you to switch in different ammo types into each chamber, essentially giving you dual-wielding via the two top trigger buttons - but the sheer originality of these ammo types is also unlike anything you've ever seen.

Remember that Cat Shotgun From Postal 2...?

Click to enlarge
First person mode handles great, not requiring any wanky lock-on bollocks
Quite simply, the Stranger doesn't like bullets. Instead he prefers a more "organic" form of ammunition...living, breathing critters. Literally. It's all completely barmy and takes some getting used to, but in actual fact works quite well. For the traditional spray 'n' prey machine gun style you can load up wasps for instance, but the real fun comes in the more exaggerated and bizarre types. Check out the Chippunks; tiny creatures that once fired at the ground will start yelling out insults, causing nearby enemies to run over in an attempt to stamp them to death - great for causing distractions and dividing up enemy numbers. Or how about the spider-like Bolamites - a single shot of which wraps up an enemy target in silky smooth web spunk, ripe for the capture (and subsequent reward).

There's a ton of different types, and each one is that little bit more outrageous and entertaining than the last. In practice though, you sadly find yourself sticking to your 2 or 3 favourites once the novelty wears off, but if nothing else it deserves marks for originality.

Nothing But Love

Click to enlarge
Environments are positively lush. No wonder the PS2 port was canned
An aspect that deserves far greater love however, are the aesthetics. This is one pretty fucking game, I tell ya - at times it often resembles Pixar quality CGI. Stranger is gorgeously modelled and beautifully animated, sure, but the environments he's then let lose into are even sexier. Levels are immaculately detailed, massive in size, and filled to the brim with fantastic effects. Bright lights blur and dissolve in the most succulent manner, and background scenery appears distant and out of focus...in an incredibly cool way. Rumours speak of this using a modified version of the Halo 2 engine, but for me this is by far the superior looking game.

The sound is also rich and enveloping. Voices are well-acted and purposely lo-fi, adding to the old time western feel of the visuals, and Stranger himself sounds particularly sweet. Believe me when I tell you, this is one technically sound game.

Click to enlarge
You can buy items from, talk to and even beat up the various townsfolk
I could go on really, chatting about the surprisingly rich plot, the ease and pure flat-out fun of the gameplay, and the challenging yet never unfair game length. But I won't. Instead I'll merely rave about Stranger himself...he who is one of the most memorable characters of recent times. He's a bad arse, a wise arse, a hard mother fucker, and looks ferociously sick too. Once you master the art of literally charging head first into bad guys and knocking them out, you'll be in love.

Getting a peek into his weird and wonderful world and thus playing through Stranger's Wrath is a crazy, bizarre experience, one that mesmerises as much as it entertains. As a result? It really is something you shouldn't miss out on.

(Pictures courtesy of EA Games)

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The Polynomial. Like playing a rave

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Game
Fallout 3

Enjoying a fully modded out re-visit. Wow

Film
The Road

Pretty much due to the above

Show
Breaking Bad

Already shaping up to be the best season yet

Tune
Explosions in the Sky

Easing the pain of living in a post-Friday Night Lights world

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Forums

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RLLMUK Forum
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NeoGAF
A more US-centric gaming board, with huge piles of traffic and even the odd famous face

Gaming Shows

The 1up Radio Network
1up.com's collection of weekly gaming podcasts, the pick of which would have to be ListenUP, full of juicy rumors and interesting banter week in, week out

Area 5
Formerly The 1up Show, since losing their jobs the old video editing team have continued doing what they do best, in an independent internet-based TV show, covering whatever upcoming games they can get their hands on, and various other bits and pieces

Fully Ramblomatic
A hysterical gaming blogger posting what he calls "zero punctuation" video reviews that have to be seen - and heard - to be believed

A Life Well Wasted
Freelance journalist Robert Ashley's internet radio show, with a far more interesting and professional demeanor than your typical podcast. Interviews, fast-paced editing and catchy tunes abound

On the Spot
The humongous gaming site known as Gamespot broadcasts a video show each week, in which upcoming games are demoed live on air, and viewers are invited to send in questions to find out more

The Hotspot
Gamespot's audio-based companion to On the Spot, in which site editors cover the week's news while simultaneously poking fun at all that is gaming

Gaming Steve
A more mature podcast, hosted by a long-time games industry professional armed with a ton of insider info and loads of interesting opinions. The Dig's been known to post articles and stories on here from time to time

Consolevania
Quick-fire internet-based TV show with console reviews and comedy sketches. Funny as hell

Major Nelson
An interesting "blogcast" hosted by a Microsoft employee, featuring stacks of exclusive behind the scenes news and interviews relating to all things Xbox 360

The Kojima Productions Report
Official podcast from the team of Hideo Kojima, creator of the much-loved Metal Gear franchise. Full of news and interviews relating to all things Metal Gear, it's probably one for die-hard fans only

Pure Pwnage
Mockumentary series on the life of a pro gamer. Episode five is possibly the funniest thing on the internet

Other Sites

Kotaku
What you could call gaming's homepage. Constantly updated news and links on the entire industry, from minute breaking headlines, to funny arse viral vids

Game Trailers
Easy to use multimedia-rich web site offering official trailers, video demos and sneak peaks at all the upcoming releases

Game Videos
Sister site to 1up.com, focusing on game trailers, video interviews and even the odd documentary

Gamespot
The Gamespot front-end, and the gaming equivalent of the Internet Movie Database. Includes detailed reviews and extensive video features on pretty much all systems and games ever made

Giant Bomb
Speaking of Gamespot, the controversial "letting go" of editor Jeff Gerstmann resulted in him starting up this new venture with fellow former writers of the site. Great podcast in particular

1up.com
Discounting the audio and video shows mentioned earlier, 1up's main site is also worth a visit in its own right. Not only bustling with quality gaming articles and extensive developers' blogs, it also doubles up as a massive friends network, ideal for meeting fellow gamers and joining like-minded communities

Live Marketplace Feed
The most up to date and reliable way to keep track of all the new Xbox Live Marketplace content, from new weapons and map packs, to movie trailers and game demos

Xbox Reloaded
360 backwards compatibility can be a minefield. This blog attempts to shed some light on the issue by playing original Xbox games for you and reporting back the results

GameFAQs
The ultimate resource for walkthroughs and cheats

Disposable Media
A wonderful (and free) E-zine, full of reviews and articles on gaming, movies, music and TV. Puts most high street mags to shame

X-Fire
A must-have for all PC gamers, X-Fire is a buddy list and communications tool that keeps constant tabs on what games both you and all your mates are playing, on or offline

Steam
A contender to the X-Fire throne that has pretty much overtaken it straight out of the gate. Valve's Steam client contains friends lists, downloadable games, Live-style achievements and plenty more to sink your teeth into

MyGamerCard.net
Convert your Xbox Live gamercard into an image, for use on forums and web sites for free. That's mine further down

Ain't it Cool News
The latest news, gossip and spy reports from the world of movies, TV and (occasionally) video games

Smodcast
Writer, director and actor Kevin Smith - he of Clerks fame - records a monthly podcast in which he and fellow pals discuss everything from trying to felate oneself, to the time his dog got covered in ejaculate. Riveting stuff

 

Matt Robinson, 2011

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