Oh, and one more thing: Eastwood’s "Man With No Name" must trade in his pistol for a double-barreled crossbow that fires live chipmunks and furry little bats that go boom.
Yes, "Oddworld" is that weird. And like Eastwood’s old spaghetti Westerns, this game has a lot of character. Little details like the lead character’s interesting way of healing himself (shake like a wet dog), the chitter-chatter of catty locals and a couple of different ways to fight add depth and gloss to an otherwise regular shooter game.
This latest "Oddworld" title has little to do with the previous Xbox version. Here, you play as the Stranger (no name – sound familiar?), a slow but determined bounty hunter. He is plopped down into a mysterious world where the environments have a mixed flavor of western tumbleweeds and industrial grime. Many of the people look like birds dressed as cowboys.
You hunt down scumbags for moolah. Eventually, as you gain notches in your crossbow, a greedy corporation will drop the biggest bounty ever seen for you to pursue.
But first you round up comparatively tame palookas like Filthy Hands Floyd. There’s a town in Oddworld where you pick up your assignments, shake down the townsfolk for hints and gold, and fill your passels with goods.
Then you head out on foot – the Stranger can gallop – to far-out camps and hideouts where guys like the Looten Duke hang out, usually surrounded by a posse of wannabes. You take them out first, then fight the boss. Doing so is where all the fun lies. You can fight with your flailing fists in third-person view, or click down the right thumbstick for a first-person perspective and whip out that handy crossbow.
This thing alone is worth the price. There are at least nine different live animals you can use as ammunition.
A properly placed Chippunk ("chipmunk" in translation) will lure a bad guy near while you wait in ambush. Then just fire a Fuzzle and watch as the little furball gnaws at the big guy like it’s going at a mouthful of chew.
There are Boombats that explode, Stunkz that stink and Thudslugs that hit like a boulder in the belly.
The goal is to incapacitate the dude, not kill him, because he’s worth more breathing. You leap out and suck him up into your bounty can, "Ghostbusters"-style.
When idle, the animal ammo sits on your crossbow, staring right at you. The Chippunk wisecracks ("Hey, you, with the face!"); the Fuzzles gnash and growl.
It’s a little disappointing that the fighting strategy is so common – pick off the bad guys one-by-one or die in a gang fight. But even Eastwood was set in his ways. As they say in his old movies, a man’s got to know his limitations.
© 2005, Detroit Free Press. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.