Review by Malorkus
"The right to bear no arms."
Life without any arms must be a real inconvenience. Gone would be the days of using your hands to execute the simplest of life's tasks. No more picking your nose, throwing knives, running people over, the list goes on. Now imagine life without any legs. Say goodbye to walking, stepping on insects, kneeing people in the face, and wearing fuzzy slippers. What a dreadful life the armless and legless must lead. Fortunately for Rayman, in spite of having no arms or legs, he has magically suspended hands and feet to do his work for him. A severely impaired being with an over-sized nose, Rayman certainly has his work cut out for him in his first 3D adventure, Rayman 2: The Great Escape. While most 3-D platform titles of the time had been using massive platform worlds ala Super Mario 64, this game takes a more linear approach that works for its benefit for the most part.
So to start off, you have these nasty pirates who are being, well...pirates. I mean, who does not love pirates? Besides ninjas? Rayman and his buddies have been kidnapped by Admiral Razorbeard and his army of robotic space pirates. The captives are taken to the main prison ship, where they are to be used as slaves to carry treasure and the like. You know, like pirates do. Unfortunately, Rayman is not too pleased by his predicament, and plans an escape route for him and his fellow inmates. However, he requires the power of the Lums (little fairy things) in order to do so. Yet it just so happens that his frog buddy has been carrying a Lum the entire time! As Rayman escapes from the flying fortress utilizing the majestic power, he must conjure up a plan to save his friends from a life of back-breaking deck-swabbing from the robotic space pirate army.
Rayman 2: The Great Escape follows the classic platform formula of following a path to reach the end of each stage. The preface is pretty simplistic, with each stage being accessed through a world map. Yet when you fire up said stages, a vast world opens up to you. Environments cover all the basic gaming elements, ranging from murky swamps to smoldering lava beds. Rayman can jump and blast enemies with his unattached gloves. Pirate henchmen and zombie chickens will attempt to block your progress unless you can give them a good well-timed socking. Much of the game will consist of leaping across gaps and collecting trinkets. Collecting the Lums that lie in each stage is one of the primary objectives of the game. Each Lum triggers a certain action depending on its color. For instance, a red Lum will revitalize your health bar, while a blue Lum will provide you with additional oxygen while underwater. The silver kinds are the most elusive, granting special new abilities to Rayman.
Rayman's fists are not the only weapons in his arsenal, however. He can chuck plums at foes, detonate explosive kegs, and hitch rides on walking barrels. The enemies are no pushovers, however, and actually make for quite an impressive challenge. Failure to dodge enemy fire will result in your health bar taking a dive. Occasionally you will come across one of your lost friends caged in a precarious situation. Free enough of them and your health bar will increase. The game is not merely pure platform action, however. There is puzzle-solving abound, ready to test the very mettle of your mind. Many of these puzzles do not have obvious solutions, forcing you into a game of trial and error. While the game may have a somewhat childish appeal, a few of these dilemmas will have grown men banging their heads against the wall. In numerous stages, you will be pitted on some form of vehicle, such as a water ski or a rocket, while dodging obstacles in your wake.
However, there are a few issues lying underneath the game's surface. For one, the game's camera has a tendency to be unruly. As a game that emphasizes moving forward, the camera becomes incredibly uncooperative when attempting to scan behind. It is difficult to shift and position exactly how you want it. Some of the controls can also be faulty at times, particularly when riding on one of the aforementioned vehicles. Other times, the controls will become unresponsive, not reacting to a jump or command. Again, this is a more noticeable problem in the mini-games, especially on the missile in which you must constantly re-position yourself. Additionally, collecting fifty Lums per stage can become a tedious chore, especially when it comes to scouring each stage for hours on end just for the one or two you may have missed. On the bright side, it adds some longevity and challenge to the game.
Rayman 2: The Great Escape is an entertaining enough diversion from the standard platform titles of the same era. Its style of play offers a refreshing throwback to the times when the primary objective was to reach the end of each stage rather than search out stars and crap. In spite of appearing as more of a kids' title, there is a level of challenge in the game that will test even the more experienced platform game veterans. The puzzles and boss fights will easily stump you without regret. It's a crying shame that some of the gimmicks and controls feel thoroughly untested and broken. Sure, collecting Lums can get tedious at times, and the voice acting is oh-so laughably awful, but the main platform action is an enjoyable experience nonetheless. second outing is certainly worth checking out for fans of the genre. And come on, it has robotic space pirates. How awesome can you get?
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/26/07, Updated 02/18/14
Game Release: Rayman 2: The Great Escape (US, 10/31/99)
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