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    • By Asher Madan
      Oddworld: Soulstorm on Xbox Series X — A lackluster port
      by Asher Madan

      Oddworld: Soulstorm is a remake of 1998's Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, the second game in the Oddworld franchise. The title not only features great visuals, but also adds new story elements that increase the scope of the tale. Oddworld: Soulstorm - Enhanced Edition takes this one step further.

      According to developer Oddworld Inhabitants, this version features improved gameplay mechanics, better character movement, refined audio, more responsive enemies and followers, as well as countless bug fixes. There are also a few new levels in there for you to enjoy on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S. The game has been available since April 2021 on PC and PlayStation platforms, but it's finally making the jump to Microsoft's devices.

      Oddworld Inhabitants provided me with a review code for the game, and I played it on Xbox Series X. While the title is enjoyable given the refinements included in the Enhanced Edition, it's not great on a technical front even on Microsoft's powerful console. The resolution and performance issues detract from the experience, in my opinion.

      Oddworld: Soulstorm takes place directly after Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! from 2014. Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty! is itself a remake of Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee. Once again, you play as Abe and are tasked with saving as many fellow Mudokons as possible. This mostly involves opening doors, neutralizing enemies, and activating bridges. The title plays like your standard action-platformer, but features a lot of ways to solve puzzles and progress through the campaign.

      For example, you can use rocks to destroy mines, but you can also try disabling them. I wouldn't recommend that because it's almost impossible to time this correctly. Additionally, you can use your supernatural abilities to possess a number of enemies and have them walk across the minefield. As expected, they explode into dozens of pieces, but at least your path's clear. Figuring out your playstyle and what works for you is part of the game.

      Oddworld: Soulstorm runs at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second (FPS) on Xbox Series X. Even though it's beautiful to look at, the game doesn't feature particularly remarkable visuals or effects that would warrant such a degraded presentation. Even at 1080p, Oddworld: Soulstorm suffers from stuttering on Xbox Series X. This usually happens when there's a lot happening on-screen — like out-of-control fires — but also when you trigger checkpoints. The drops went down to around 20 FPS during my testing. It's clear that this is an issue with optimization more than anything else.

      Oddworld: Soulstorm tells a good story even though it's not as great as its predecessor. It's definitely a step above in terms of gameplay complexity, but the blurry visuals and performance issues are far too obvious to ignore. I don't understand how Oddworld: Soulstorm - Enhanced Edition can be marked as Xbox Series X|S Optimized and feature almost no next-generation elements. It doesn't look great on a 4K display, nor can it maintain 60 FPS. Each level isn't that complex or expansive either.

      Unfortunately, it seems like not a lot of effort went into porting Oddworld: Soulstorm to Xbox Series X|S. I'd prefer if it wasn't enhanced at all so I could at least install the game on an external hard drive to save some space on Internal Storage or the Storage Expansion Card.

      Hopefully, Oddworld Inhabitants are aware of these problems on Xbox Series X. If the team isn't, I really hope they read this because, frankly speaking, this is unacceptable. Oddworld: Soulstorm - Enhanced Edition costs $39.99 on the Microsoft Store. There are many titles available that cost the same or less that properly take advantage of the system. In its current state, I can't recommend the game due to its high price. To me, it seems like not a lot of care went into the Xbox Series X port.

      The recently-released Chorus is a great example of this. It's also $39.99, but features 4K visuals, many open-world levels, and the option to play it at 30 FPS or 60 FPS, depending on the visual settings you prefer. At this point, I expect more from Oddworld Inhabitants than what we're paying $39.99 for on Xbox Series X. Let's hope patches are issued soon and maybe the team looks into upgrading the resolution down the line.

    • By LoneWolfSL
      Respawn is delisting the original Titanfall from stores today
      by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe

      Respawn Entertainment had a Titanfall-related announcement today, but it's not the sequel announcement fans are all waiting for. The original Titanfall from 2014 is being pulled from all stores on PC (Steam, Origin, etc.) and the Xbox store today, closing the window for fresh players to join the classic shooter.

      Thankfully, this decision will not affect current owners of the game and Respawn has said servers will be kept online for the fanbase still playing the game. Titanfall being a multiplayer-only game, that's an important point. EA Play and Xbox Game Pass subscribers have a little more time with Titanfall if they don’t buy it before. They have until March 1, 2022, before the game is pulled.

      The studio didn't give a reason as to why this decision was made. The game has been suffering from DDOS attacks and hacking incidents for a long time now, which may have been a factor in the company making this move.

      Titanfall was the first game to come out of Respawn Entertainment after being established under Electronic Arts. The studio spawned a highly rated sequel in 2016 and made the popular battle royale Apex Legends in 2019, which is set in the same universe.

      The announcement did hint at Titanfall-returning in some form in the future, adding "rest assured, Titanfall is core to Respawn’s DNA and this incredible universe will continue today in Titanfall 2 and Apex Legends, and in the future."

    • By Asher Madan
      Baldur's Gate and Crysis receive major discounts in this week's Deals with Gold
      by Asher Madan

      Every week, Microsoft and select publishers discount a number of titles for a weekly Deals with Gold Sale. This week, titles from the Baldur's Gate and Crysis franchises are available for substantially less. The Xbox Black Friday Sale is still going on for a few more days.

      Below, you'll find the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 games with their respective discounts. The deals and games marked with an asterisk are only valid for Xbox Live Gold members, so you'll need an active paid subscription for the additional discount.

      Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One
      Xbox 360
      Many of the games are also backward compatible so you can play them on your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One. Luckily, Xbox 360 owners also have a number of titles to choose from this week.

      Which games are you interested in? Did you buy any of them? Let us know in the comments below.

    • By Asher Madan
      Duke Nukem Forever and Grand Theft Auto IV get major discounts in this week's Deals with Gold
      by Asher Madan

      Every week, Microsoft and select publishers discount a number of titles for a weekly Deals with Gold Sale. This week, titles from Rockstar Games — the developer behind the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption franchises — are available for substantially less. The Xbox Black Friday Sale is still going on, too.

      Below, you'll find the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 games with their respective discounts. The deals and games marked with an asterisk are only valid for Xbox Live Gold members, so you'll need an active paid subscription for the additional discount.

      Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One
      Xbox 360
      Many of the games are also backward compatible so you can play them on your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One. Luckily, Xbox 360 owners also have a number of titles to choose from this week.

      Which games are you interested in? Did you buy any of them? Let us know in the comments below.

    • By Asher Madan
      Halo Infinite opening cutscenes leak, contain campaign spoilers
      by Asher Madan

      This article contains heavy spoilers about Halo Infinite. Please don't read any further if you don't want to know about the opening moments of the game before release.

      Today, the opening scene of Halo Infinite leaked online. The video focuses on the Master Chief as he fails to defeat Atriox, the antagonist initially introduced in Halo Wars 2. The video doesn't provide a lot of context, but Atriox makes quick work of the Master Chief by tossing him into space. This is probably part of a larger cutscene that we'll watch when the Halo Infinite campaign goes live on December 8, 2021.

      The leaked footage reminded me a lot of Destiny 2: The Red War, where the Cabal lay siege to The Last City and throw your Guardian off a cliff. However, there's more. Many YouTube channels are uploading snippets from the game and they provide even more tantalizing details about the story. For example, Atriox is apparently dead after defeating Master Chief, but we don't know how because it doesn't seem like Master Chief killed him.

      Apart from that, Master Chief's new companion, The Weapon, can't remember what happened to Cortana, so it's up to you to recover her memories. There's also mention of a new Forerunner threat as well as The Prophets from the original Halo trilogy.

      Halo Infinite takes place months after United Nations Space Command forces have been defeated on a Halo ring. The Banished are back and more powerful than ever. It's up to you, as the Master Chief, to uncover their plans for the Halo ring and rescue any remaining forces on the installation. We know that they want to make it operational again, but it's unclear to what end because the Halo rings were designed to eradicate all life in the galaxy.

      Halo Infinite is an upcoming first-person shooter from 343 Industries. The free-to-play multiplayer beta launched on November 15 and the campaign is scheduled to hit PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S in December. The campaign features an open-world environment this time around, with optional objectives and collectibles.

      When the Halo Infinite campaign was shown off last year, a lot of fans were disappointed by the lackluster visuals. The title was delayed by a year and has since seen major improvements based on early previews. The paid campaign will be part of Xbox Game Pass at launch and progress will carry over between consoles and PC through Xbox Play Anywhere. Are you excited for Halo Infinite? What are your thoughts on the campaign so far? Let us know in the comments below.