I don't keep many games on my shelf. Not for a long time, at least. I usually end up selling them online, giving them to friends or (in the case of some Dreamcast games that no one wanted) tossing them. I feel that the games on my bookshelf should either be the ones I'm currently playing or the classics. Halo, Grand Theft Auto 3, Soul Calibur, Crimson Skies...
Get that book outta here. Make room for a new one on the list.
Yeah it's that good.
The Rayman trilogy hasn't seen a disappointment yet. It's always fun and has been blessed with a development team that consistently GETS what the franchise is all about. Good graphics, simple controls, a sense of humor and attitude. Once the Rayman games moved from 2D to the world of 3D a lot could have gone wrong. The basics of the series could have been corrupted or lost in the multitude of options that the third dimesion allows. Nope. Rayman 2 was a classic, ensuring the mascot with no arms or legs would live long after his doomed days as the Atari Jaguar frontman. Rayman 3 delves even deeper into the fully-developed world but shows no sign of losing its simple, elegant gameplay.
The game starts with the usual pseudo-comprehensible plot twist that twists your brains into a pretzel and lets you know you're in for a ride. Apparently, Globox, the dimwitted sidekick, has eaten the Lord of the Dark Lums. Understandable mistake. Now that the Lord's army is out to get him back, Globox is in danger so you, as Rayman, must find the "cure" for his ailment. Like I said, pseudo-comprehensible - walking the fine line between funny and stupid, a balancing act that Rayman games never fear to try. Yet another reason I love the series.
The first level in the game is, by far, the worst. If I was new to the series and I rented this game I would have thrown it right back at the Blockbuster clerk. You maneuver your way through a swamp on the back of Murfy (brilliantly voice-acted by Billy West), flying in circles most of the time as you try to figure out what it is you're supposed to be doing. It looks crappy, feels weird and starts abruptly. That worries me. I hope people can get past that little burp of a level to find the brilliance that follows.
Once you settle in, it's all so smooth and fun and pretty and hilarious. Exactly what I want out of a Rayman game. I've heard some complaints that the latest in the series doesn't revolutionize the genre like Rayman 2 did. That may be so, but number 3 has a lot of touches that other platformers should try to match. For instance, Rayman 3 shows everyone how to handle a camera. Few and far between were the times where I would lose my way or get whacked because I couldn't see the bad guy. The camera movement is exceptional and allows for you to take control, if you feel you need to, with the flick of a button.
I also believe the game provides a blueprint for level design. Rayman has his standard punch, jump and float abilities (with a welcomed one-two punch that rocks) but there are a slew of new abilities and even tricked-up costumes waiting to be discovered. The designers did a great job tying those powers to the goals of the level. Some might find this a little too convenient but the end result is an addictive romp because the powers are so fun to use and the situations you find yourself in are so amusing. Excellent power moves like Lockjaw let you traverse chasms with a Spider-Man swing. Heavy Metal Fist is a huge and, of course, detachable glove that deals some nasty damage. Throttle-copter allows Rayman to take to the skies for longer periods than his standard super-jumps usually allow. The Shock-Rocket (my new fave) lets you shoot guided missiles. Many baddies hide from the savagery that is Rayman so he needs to guide missiles around tight corners to take them out. Very satisfying! And the last new power Rayman must find is the Vortex, the most graphically impressive part of the game. It allows you to twirl the bad guys out of commission and also lets you pull vegetation down to your level so you can climb to places that would otherwise be off-limits.
With the fast-paced action mixed in with the strategy of how to use these new abilities, Rayman 3 plays wonderfully. You get the standard jewel power-ups (to unlock levels and minigames) but not much else feels standard about the gaming experience. The closest I can come to a peer is, well, Rayman 2.
You think Rayman 2 looked sweet?
The environments are a testament to how far you can push the PS2 hardware. Lush swamps, dank caverns, and, my favorite level, psychedelic disco space. Yup. In another example of the extremes that the Rayman franchise will go to for a good time, there’s a level where you need to trip the light fantastic and hop from scrolling rainbow to scrolling rainbow to a catchy disco beat. I’m not usually one for repetitive jump levels but this one is the pinnacle of all jump levels. The particle effects have to be seen to be believed. They made my wife laugh, which is something, lemme tell you.
The wild palette of Rayman 2 is back and I’m pretty sure no other game out there looks this weird. Whether it’s the gaseous Globox running around in the distance trying to hold it in, or an army of Lums chomping at your feet I think Lewis Carrol of Alice in Wondeland fame, would be right at home here. Kudos to Ubi Soft for, once again, giving attention to those graphical details that flesh out characters near and dear to millions of us.
The characters come to life even more this time out. Rayman’s attitude continues to be more adult than the other mascots out there and his sneer is back in full force. Globox is hilarious, with voice acting by the brilliant John Leguizamo and Murf is always there to rub it in a little or give you some much-needed advice.
The sound in the game is practically perfect. From the smash of the fist to the frantic music at the height of action, Rayman 3 cannot be faulted for getting lazy on the ears. Environmental sounds are well-done and mapped perfectly to make the levels seem that much more real.
Ah, Rayman, we hardly knew ye…
Were there any problems with the game? Just one. Too short. I might love games but I’m usually not very good at them in the traditional sense. If I love a game like Rayman 3 I might just run around for awhile and check stuff out. It’s not a matter of finishing fast with me. Still, I’d say I finished the whole thing in around 12 hours.
But, like I said, this game is a classic. Excellent graphics, simple combat control, crazy situations, funny scripting, professional (and clearly expensive) voice acting…the list goes on and on. You can’t go wrong with this game. It’s one to buy, no question. I’ll get around to pulling it off the shelf again for another go soon. Like tonight.
Fun (almost) from beginning to end. The cast of characters, truly worthy of its own comic book, come alive in this sequel to one of the best platformers of all time. Lush visuals, elegant gameplay, a hero with no arms or legs, mmmmmmmmmmâ€¦â€¦.
Rating: 9.2 Excellent
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Ben Zackheim was born Ben Zackheim sometime before 1980 and after 1960 which characterizes him not at all. He's a writer of reviews, comics and screenplays, but aren't we all? Luxuries like food and shoes mean nothing to him. He's married to the most beautiful woman in the world, Robin, who reads all his reviews before he sends them in and says "Are you really going to write that for the public to read?" But I assure her no one reads my reviews anyway, only Charlie's, so it's kind of like a tree in the forest (without the cute little fuzzy things who smell their own poop - wait, then again there is Charlie...) She's a cross between Gillian Anderson and Hillary Clinton, which is a monster I'd love to play in Monster Rancher Advance 2. Photos are available upon request for a small fee. I'm currently writing this bio but have no plans beyond that. View Profile