Gordo’s Gaming Blog

My adventures in the many worlds of gaming.

Posts Tagged ‘Lorne Lanning

The Classics: Abe’s Exoddus

with 3 comments

AbeAs promised, this is the next installment in my ‘The Classics’ series. Abe’s Exoddus. It’s a game I spoke about briefly before, when talking about the revival of Oddworld Inhabitants (though it seems that they’re not, in fact working on an Oddworld game – Boo, hiss!). Anyway, I recently replayed through Abe’s Exoddus, with the intention of reviewing it.

I’ll start with the gameplay. Gameplay in this game is amazing. I’ve never played such a responsive, inventive and all-round fun platformer. It brings brilliant additions to the genre, combining the great elements of Abe’s Oddysee (the predecessor) and at the same time bringing in additions. Some of the great features I liked about the game were…

  • As I said before, the responsive gameplay.
  • Possession – it allowed you to play the game as all sorts of different characters and creatures.
  • GameSpeak, and saving Mudokons.
  • Secret levels!
  • Semi-related – the level design.
  • The introduction of Quicksave.
  • … to name but a few. It really is the most fun I’ve had playing a platformer. I guess the original 2D Mario Games were before my time, and I’ve never like 3D platformers, they always feel strange to me.

    Next up is graphics. Now, they say that things you enjoyed as a kid you will invariably enjoy as you grow older. Maybe that’s the case, because I still look at Oddworld in the Abe games and go ‘Wow!’. It truly looks amazing. It’s both desolate and industrial, and at the same time, satirical and funny (a difficult feat to pull off – many games that attempt satire come off as ‘preachy’, and many that try to be funny are, but only on a shallow and superficial level). Oddworld Inhabitants created a freaky and edgy world of greed and corruption, but underneath that horrible layer lies true heroism and good. Wait a minute, that’s not graphics! I know, but I truly believe that all that is represented through the graphics, and brililantly so. For a game 10 years old, it has aged beautifully. Note though that I played it on a CRT monitor, as I think it runs as 640×480. At that resolution on a CRT it does look great, but when that’s only like a quarter of your screen on an LCD it mighn’t look so good. If you do want to play on an LCD, it might be possible to get mods that allow higher resolution, if not, get yourself a pair of reading glasses!

    Sound – Oddworld sounds great! The atmospheric bird calls, voices, and most of all music – it’s probably the best dynamic music I’ve experienced. As the action intensifies, so does the music. It’s so slick it’s as though you’ve got a composer sitting inside your PC, causing the music to escalate as the excitement does. I guess the best testament to the quality of the sound in this game is that it passes through most of the game virtually unnoticed. By that I mean, it fits so seamlessly in with the graphics, gameplay and the whole rest of the game, it doesn’t stick out at all. It’s perfectly smooth. And voice acting, while a tad over-done in some places, is hilarious. And what game about greed isn’t complete without some good ol’ French-Canadian stereotypes?

    But I guess theAbe true genius of Exoddus is the atmosphere. Whilst the graphics and the sound represent it, it truly is the vision of the designers that make it. It is amazing, from the first time Abe says ‘Hey-low’ when you start up the game, to the mad cackling of ‘But… We had twize zee flaver!!!’ as you finish it, Oddworld is immersive, hilarious, serious and gritty throughout. And for that reason I trust that whatever Oddworld Inhabitants do next, I think it’ll succeed. The jump to 3D just doesn’t work for Oddworld, but maybe a totally new project will. This game, however, provokes serious thought about the state of our world at the moment, and I guess the themes will be relevent for hundreds of years. The themes of exploitation, capitalism, greed, heroism and valour ring true through every era of civilisation, and yet you can laugh at this game, really laugh out loud. It’s a game that’s one of a kind. When you see screenshots you see a 2D side-scroller, but when you play you find yourself in this amazing, crazy, illogical world that just makes sense. Lorne Lanning, I salute you.


    Written by Gordo

    June 26, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Oddworld’s back!

    with 3 comments

    I was thrilled to read this morning this article! The Oddworld series of games I fell in love with as a child; Abe’s Oddyssey and Abe’s Exoddus in particular. They were the first games I played that truly evoked a feeling of atmosphere; the low-resolution but beautifully rendered, and 2D but seemingly 3D graphics contriubuted to the amazing style the games had. A parallel universe where a whole race enslaved by the greedy capitalist armless Glukkons. At the time, it spoke to me only as a really fun game, with funny looking and funny talking character. But now, I see how deep it truly was; satiring the world we live in in so many ways – drawing on clichés from other games, films and books. The slave – given a feeling of destiny, and later, given a destiny, given the power to bring down the evil business empire of Rupture Farms and Soulstorm Brewery. A true underdog story; and one that is great fun through and through.Abe

    Other features I loved about those two games were the lack of UI! It may sound crazy in an age where often games are judged purely on their UI – but it was a game that didn’t need a UI; and Oddworld Inhabitants were incredibly brave to leave it out completely. You could say the same about Rockstar, for the truly minimalist UI featured in GTA IV. Did I ever miss a UI while playing? Never. Was I glad at some times there was no UI? Absolutely – it allowed me to truly appreciate the beautiful, stylised world put before me. For, as all backgrounds, and most areas in the foreground were simply images, it displayed beautiful landscape and view distance. Another one was ‘GameSpeak’ as it was affectionately called. You could communicate with NPCs in a way I’d never seen before! Your commands allowed you to gain allies, enemies, and, as was the main objective of the game – to save your fellow Mudokons.

    But then, years later, disaster struck Oddworld… Munch’s Oddyssey and later Stranger’s Wrath were released. I was going to play them – I even bought them, but I couldn’t do it. I looked on the back of the case, and I saw these 3D worlds, games based on combat, not on puzzles and wit. Games where the developers had spent so much time feeding a graphics-crazy world, that they had neglected what made Abes’ games so special. And I felt sad as I looked at those games, and I continued to feel sad as I took them back to the store. But I know, if I’d played them, it would have been the biggest let-down since realising Santa Claus doesn’t exist. It would ruin the memory of Oddworld, its’ crazy inhabitants, wonderful characters and storylines, and totally immersive world. It was so Odd, it seemed real.

    So, you might ask, if I was so disappointed with Munch’s Oddyssey and Stranger’s Wrath, what would I have to look forward to in this new project? Two things: one, is that Oddworld Inhabitant’s took a huge break, of about 3 years, a sabbatical if you will, and I hope they used that time wisely, to reflect, gather their thoughts, and prepare themselves for an awesome new project. The second – time. They’re not rushing this game, just as a fine wine can’t be rushed, they’re now going to work on it slowly, and we’re told not to expect a release for several years. Well, Oddworld, I can wait. I just hope you decide to look long and hard at Abe’s Oddyssey and Abe’s Exoddus; they’re a fine example of what a game should be.

    Written by Gordo

    May 27, 2008 at 11:26 am