How odd do you want your world to be? Microsoft
wants it to be very odd indeed.
We have journeyed into the Oddworld twice before, with each
installment being a memorable one. We have gotten to play only one game
out of the beloved Oddworld Quintology (Abe's Exodus doesn't count for
some reason), and now we get the highly anticipated second coming. Munch's
Oddysee was first scheduled for the PS2 and was going to be one of its
premiere titles, until that fateful day that everything changed.
Oddworld was announced at the start of the Xbox campaign
(boy was that a long time ago) that it would be an exclusive title. Not
only did this make a whole bunch of PS2 owners mad, it also brought a
strong following to Microsoft's little black box.
The story goes a little like this… A lonely Gabbit named
Munch is searching for more Gabbits like himself, since his species is
on the endangered list. He has absolutely no luck until one day when
one of the Gabbits sang back. But when he goes to check it out, he gets
caught in a trap. Along comes Abe wanting to know about his brothers,
and this is where the two paths cross as he finds and rescues Munch from
Now the hunt is on. Although the story is not the best one
in the world, it passes for this game, and is fairly original. After
the introduction, there is an annoying tutorial stage that actually turns
out to be very helpful.
The controls are pretty good except for the movement of
Abe and Munch. After a while you get used to the controls, but the game
doesn't exactly lighten up on you. I know what you may be thinking, and
no this problem is not due to the Xbox controller; it is because of the
tight areas Abe and Munch have to traverse. They have to go past mountains
and right in front of rivers and a lot of tight areas. You will notice
this part of the control in the first level when you have to get all
of the Spooce shrubs. Running up a narrow area and falling due to control
issues can spoil some of the fun.
Oddworld utilizes Game Speak technology, which is how players
control the Mudokons. The Xbox button layout seems designed for the Game
Speak. Each button represents a different command that ranges from attack
to just a simple greeting. After some (but not much) adjustment you get
used to the controls the game runs pretty smooth.
As you progress through the game, Abe can get a whole bunch
of your friendly Mudokons to follow him, and you need them to get through
many places and they help you chant. You can do a lot of things to those
poor creatures: make them work, throw them or simply have them wait wherever
you want. While seeming like cannon fodder, they are necessary to advance
through the game. They run with you and they do what ever you say (with
an understandable amount of complaining).
Abe is not the only person that can get things to follow
him though the game. Munch has similar abilities as well. Being wheelchair
bound, he need help attacking and many other things.
Both Abe and Munch have special abilities that they use
to deceive the enemies or kill them. Abe can control the Mudokons and
have them attack. Munch has the added ability to electrocute things and
control the machinery by using the device implanted on his head (bad
lab experience). He can kill enemies or control them; it's your choice.
Gameplay is not the main thing people see when they plop
there game into the Xbox. From the opening video onward the graphics
are absolutely stunning and show absolutely no lag at all. The characters
and sprawling environments are painstakingly rendered to the best caliber.
The character animations are also well done. Aside from
the disgusting ass scratching and farting, all characters move very fluidly.
The game looks like a graphical showcase.
One of the few factors that hurt the game is the dialog.
All of the characters have something to say and if you don't like the
way they are saying it, too bad; because you cant turn it off. The bigger
issue though is the dialogue is hard to understand. It's possible to
miss important information because of this. The game is 100% voiced,
but the addition of subtitles would have been welcome.
The music doesn't stand out either. It tends really annoying
after a while, and at some points there is missing entirely, leaving
you to hear nothing but the sound of the Mudokons and you. Some of the
tracks are good, but it doesn't have enough depth to save it.
Has seen one too many Mudokons scratching their butts, thank you.
Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee: The Scores
After all the hype surrounding this game, I would have
expected better. The dialogue and music bring the game
down. The controls could use some work around the edges,
but is made up for in the Game Speak. The graphics are
very good and the story is original. This game is worth
a rental (on a long weekend) or a purchase if you like
this sort of thing.