Stranger's Wrath a rental? Sure. What's wrong with that? In Stranger's Wrath's case I bought it for 50 and sold it back for 35, kept it for a week or two. I usually call a game a rental based on how long it takes me to beat and if there's any replay value to it. If there is replay value, it depends on how much I enjoy it. If I rented tetris I'd probably want to play it after the rental was over, but probably wouldn't buy it or rent it again as I'd rather play something else. Strangers Wrath had no replay value, but that's not a bad thing. I mean, I saw "Two for the Money" a few days ago, and I thought it was a good movie, but I wouldn't watch it again. There's really nothing to gain by watching it again. And to say that movies should be made so you can watch them over and over again is just retarded. There are some people who can watch movies repeatedly, hell, there are some people who can watch a movie over and over again so many times that they sit there quoting lines from the movie. I'm not one of those people. There's nothing wrong with a game being a one-play, except for the price. (And for you that's not saying much, Mr. Sale on top of Sale..." Even that's debatable though, renting a movie comes at the cost of $4 for an hours worth of entertainment, whereas a video game like Strangers Wrath comes out to about $3 an hour for entertainment. Some people are probably saying "I paid $2.14 for 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure' and I've watched it 12 times!!". And if you're that brain-dead you can probably stop reading now. I'm sure the first sentence is interesting enough to keep you entertained for HOURS!!! My point is, Strangers Wrath is a good game. It did what it was supposed to, it kept me entertained for about 20 hours over the course of a week. If your idea of entertainment only costs the price of your imagination, then good for you. Some people read books and some people play checkers. Some people, like the japanese, think that mindless repetitive tasks that you get scored on are a good way to spend their free time. If you're one of those people, don't rent games like Strangers Wrath, rent tetris. By saying "Am I being cynical?" is implying that you think games should be played over and over again and for $15 bucks you have fun for months. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. I'm just saying that sometimes you need to take a game for what it is, and this game is a novel. If you play it again you might get some more out of it, but mostly its a once over. Don't get me wrong though, there's definitely a place for the repetitious. One of my favorite games was "Harvest Moon" on the GBA, but if that's all I played I'd probably go insane.
I know how you feel though. I would restart levels over and over to capture them alive, to a point where the monotony started sinking in, and I had so much money I had most of the upgrades. Money that of course was about as useful as a hooker in a vagina storm. When I became notably shorter and quite a bit less cool looking, I was pretty upset that all my hard work was for nothing, but that's part of the plot. At first I was the badest asshole in the town, (the fingernails on the desk was a nice touch), and when they pulled my boots off that all came crashing down... The way I perceived my character was completely different. No longer the predator, now I'm the prey. The last of a kind that couldn't save itself. I was short, almost cute looking. I even felt sorry for myself, but I obviously didn't want to die. It's like going from "Dirty Harry" to "The Fugitive". In the end I got all the upgrades I was looking for, and then some. Enough to viciously obliterate all my enemies. Soon I was more bad ass than ever, and more feared than the crass and intimidating guy in the beginning of the game. I was mythical. I thought that it fit into the Oddworld universe quite well. Oddworld is a concept; a brand name. Not a half-brained alien in a loincloth side scrolling puzzle solver (I loved the first game though, and I enjoyed blackthorn. My favorite game of all time was Flashback.). I usually jack the difficulty of games up to hard the first time I play it, even then the last boss was pretty easy, but when I was done I felt satisfied. Development, climax and resolution. That's how it goes. If the game was any more repetitious it would have taken the player out of the plot. You wouldn't be that bad ass dude anymore, you'd just be playing for the biggest number possible. Try Disgaea if you're looking for a bad plot and a billion hours of complicated gameplay. (I beat that game, holy crap.)
Frankly I welcome games like this. Repetitious scored games like tetris are different than story based games inherently. Repetition and score are anticlimactic and destroy the suspension of disbelief. If you're looking for a plot based game, your options are RPG's or the more recent action-stratgy games like Psy-ops and Half-Life and such. Frankly, the state of RPG's has fallen into a nightmare. Either it's all really bad and overly drawn out elementary plot occasionally interrupted by a few DAYS of mindless button mashing (Final Fantasy), or it's months of ultra-customizable but utterly satisfactionless gameplay with the occasional smattering of a rushed and pointless plot (Disgaea). The only RPG that I've really been happy with in the past couple years was Shin Megami Tensei, but you've got to a galvanized hardcore RPG ass-raper to get all the way through that one. I did, and now I'm burned out on it. I like a good plot, but video game plots are often like movies. Either it's the simple but brainless fun of "Meet the Fockers" or it's the overly obtuse and cryptic "The Lost Highway" type that reminds me of the fashion industry, overrated and pointless. Somewhere in-between you find games like Strangers Wrath. A nice balance of plot and gameplay. The gameplay not only complements the plot, but integrates it. The plot is the main focus and the gameplay supports it and controls flow. In the end, that's worth the money to me. Video games aren't just for number crunchers. I welcome the artist. Stephen Spielburg once said that he thought video games would help movies transcend the screens limitations and help directors and writers and other artistic visionaries to tell their stories in a way thats superior to a one way movie or written experience. Strangers Wrath, Half-LIfe 2, and (as much as I hate to say it, Grand Theft Auto) are great starts down that road.
Allow yourself to get absorbed into the plot a little more. I mean hell Heff, you've watched some of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life and still enjoy yourself. I had to learn over the past year to let go of the score, don't think of things like object collision detection and A.I. fallacies and try to enjoy yourself a little more. That, or stick to games like Mario Party and Hexxen. Don't get me wrong though, you're far more intelligent than I am, but you need to find games that appeal to you and what you want. If you can dumb yourself down enough to watch "Fat Albert", then what's preventing you from enjoying Strangers Wrath? I used to set some pretty high expectations for video games. At one point in time I hated everything out there. I felt like I could make something far better than anything anybody else had ever seen. In the end though, I tried not playing video games. It sucked. Bad. I was productive and responsible and I hated it. ;). Sit back and take it for what it is... entertainment. A video game shouldn't feel like a job.
That's my rant for the month. I think I'm satisfied now....