Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc
Review by Old
"Love is lovelier the second time around;
Love is lovelier with both feet on the ground."
What does this tune one of my colleagues used to hum a lot have
to do with Rayman 3? Not much, really, but it did get me
thinking about sequels. This review is about the third iteration
of the classic and wonderful Rayman series. It may even be
the fourth, if one includes the not-too-successful Rayman Arena,
a multiplayer effort. Of course, I also thought of this lyric
because Rayman rarely has both feet on the ground, being
an adept jumper and even frequent flyer!
Back in my younger days, I had the pleasure of reviewing for another
site the classic and incredible Rayman 2: The Great Escape. This
first venturing of the venerated Rayman series into the world
of 3D was truly awe-inspiring. The worlds were huge and colorful;
the design of levels was ingenious; surprises were abundant; and
the whole novelty of the character, coupled with offbeat humor,
simply made this the most endearing platform game I had, and have,
ever experienced. Flaws, such as the interface (camera control)
and save game limitations, were overlooked with the overwhelmingness
of the beautiful gameplay of Rayman 2. I trust you get the
impression I liked the game.
"Does it Have a Story?" FFC Boss Person
Our management is fairly liberal in allowing reviewers latitude
in the games they choose to write about. Rayman 3, like its
predecessor, is primarily an action/platform game. Nevertheless,
there is a narrative backdrop, which goes something like this:
"When Globox, Rayman's sidekick, accidentally swallows the
Lord of the Dark Lums, a frantic army of trigger-happy hoodlums
(Lums from the Hood) wreaks total havoc to get their Lord back!
Rayman's only chance? Journey to the vast reaches of the world
to purge the Dark Lum Lord from the manic Globox, scour the lands
for unearthly new powers, and do battle with hordes of Hoodlum
soldiers, contraptions, and maniacal bosses. This time it's war!"
Well, it's not a very original theme, is it? Fight critters, battle
bosses, save the world. Like many or most games, with the exception
of adventure titles, the story is but backdrop or context (pretext?)
for action. In many respects it's style over substance. But what
"Here Comes Numbskull Again!" Your Guide
Rayman 3 has 50 levels, plus bonuses and minigames, some
of which I won't unlock 'til I play it through again, due to my
marginally low score. Once again, I needed to secure some assistance
from my middle son, who not only is younger, but also more adept
and experienced with quick reflexes and jumping skills (in games,
that is). Playing the Game Cube version, I had trouble, embarassingly,
with Level 1a minitutorial with a smart-aleck sidekick. Indeed,
at one point, after my tenth or so try on a jump, he comments: "What's
wrong with younever played a video game before!?" Finally,
though, I got into the rhythm and had a wonderful time with most
of the rest of the game.
Rayman 3 plays, like its predecessor, from a third-person
perspective. Generally, the camera follows rather well, and there
are modifications or look-arounds one can do with the gamepad. However,
there are times, admittedly few, when the camera locks you in a
position with poor visibilityparticularly frightening during
a boss battle.
Saving your game is done only at the end of a level, at least in
the console versions. I recall Rayman 2 for the PC had the
option of midlevel check points (lost when you left the game completely),
but unfortunately that is absent from this iteration. Of course,
my son, especially, feels the levels are short enough not to present
a problem in this regard. But I'd still suggest you allow at least
a 30-minute session when you contemplate sitting down for some fun.
Controls are gradually taught by your sarcastic guide, who does
exude praise at times"Rayman, you are the best!"
By the time you're into level 5, you begin to feel fairly comfortable.
The initial levels take 20 minutes or so (10, if you're like my
son), and you'll find generally you don't get rushed just by standing
and looking around, as you are in most PC shooter titles, for example.
This stationary environmental exploration, accomplished very smoothly
with gamepad controls, can be useful, as well as entertaining in
terms of the gorgeous settings.
Does it Have Fighting and Blood?
Yes, Rayman 3 has considerable fighting; and no, it has
no blood, being rated "E" for everyone. The confrontations
in Rayman are cartoony in nature, with "bops" and
"pows," but no body parts flying around. Having said that,
there seems to be more in the way of fighting, especially as compared
with the exploration emphasis of Rayman 2. Indeed, this is
elaborated with special moves available for Rayman, the most interesting
of which is a semicircular launching of his fist in order to hit
objects or enemies around a corner.
In addition, there are traps to spring, levers to pull, doors to
open. Indeed, again as compared with its predecessor, Rayman
3 has more in the way of power-ups to help enable some of those
special moves and need for heavy-duty weaponry. You'll enjoy the
Lockjaw, Heavy Metal Fist, Vortex, Shock Rocket, and new helicopter
A Nice World to Visit?
As mentioned, even if the story is something of a pretext, the
varied settings of Rayman 3 alone are worth the trip. Considerable
artistic creativity is present in all of the levels and even characters,
from the "jointless" Rayman to the sadly comical Globox.
Imaginations have been allowed to run wild, and the look of these
levels runs second to none. Indeed, seeing what's around the next
corner becomes a large part of one's motivation for carrying on.
And another part of your enjoyment will come from the voice acting.
Globox is played by John Leguizamo, with actors for other roles,
including Rayman himself for the first time, also doing a quality
job. Sound effects and musical themes add to the overall atmosphere.
It doesn't surprise me that the developer is French.
Is Love Lovelier the Third Time Around?
If you're in the mood for a platform game in a rich, colorful and
quite weird setting, Rayman 3 is sure to please. The "story"
is not what this game is about. However, although Rayman 3 honors
the legacy of Rayman 2, there are changes to this iteration
that are not necessarily improvements. Voices instead of subtitles
takes something away and presents a problem for our hearing-impaired
gaming friends. Sarcastic cracks and jokes become a bit old after
awhile. The emphasis on combat, from power-ups to special fighting
moves, is not something I particularly liked. The point system,
presumably encouraging replay in order to unlock special treats,
is questionable. Finally, I'm not at all fond of the classic console
save systemonly one save slot available, no going back, and
no midlevel save.
Still, there is little in the way of competition. Rayman 2 was
a better game, but Hoodlum Havoc nevertheless ranks as one
of the best platform titles available. It's polished, smooth, and
done with care and affection. The levels are gorgeous, inventive
and worth exploring. Therefore, Rayman 3 earns a solid Thumb
Up rating from this happy player!
A word about the PC versionThis review is based on the Game
Cube edition, but I did play the demo for the PC. Rayman 3 for
the PC is anywhere from $10 to $30 cheaper than the console versions.
It seems much the same game. However, don't even think about the
PC edition unless you use a gamepad! The complexity of keyboard
commands and limited use of the mouse will be confounding otherwise.
Release Date: March 2003
Four Fat Chicks Links
PIII 600 MHz (1 GHz recommended)
128 MB RAM (256 MB recommended)
Where to Find It
Prices/links current as of 06/19/03
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