Review by amplivox

"Linear 3d platform romp full of laugh out loud inventiveness."

Thankfully Rayman doesn't attempt to be a Mario clone, and this is the reason it's so refreshing.

Banjo Kazooie aped the gameplay mechanics and character moves almost wholesale from the famous plumber, and in the process seemed more of a clone than a successor. Rayman however, is free to do whatever he wants. And if that means being a linear 3d platform romp full of laugh out loud inventiveness then that's fine by me.

GRAPHICS
Beautifully realized 3d environments with no pop up, fade in, fogging or glitching frame rates, and a high res mode courtesy of the expansion pak- what more could you ask for? Decent animation? it's got that Cut scenes? yes An intelligent camera? It's not perfect, you're aware of it when you're playing, but it rarely causes problems.

Apart from Rayman himself, the character design is very much like Banjo Kazooie, big eyes and disturbingly deformed cuteness. While Rare err towards kiddie with their characters these french designers have chosen to be a little bit more hallucionegenic. What about Rayman? well at first his limbless body seems a bit odd, but his range of moves is so fluidly animated that you'll soon grow to like him. Frame rates, fine, we're not talking a smooth 60fps, but within 30 seconds of starting a game, everything fits together so convincingly that you're no longer aware of frame rates, and thankfully they remain constant throughout. If I had to choose a game with comparable frame rates I'd say Diddy Kong Racing, but Rayman 2 has much better graphics.

AUDIO
The audio is adequate through out, gibberish onomatopoeic voices like BK, inoffensive music and fantastic spot effects.

GAMEPLAY
Sonic adventure, Crash Bandicoot, Banjo Kazooie, Yoshis Island and Mario are all games that came to mind when playing Rayman 2. You can't help but be impressed by the varied and imaginative ways you have to work your way through the levels. I don't want to give too much away but before long you'll be swinging tarzan style, riding on the backs of rockets with legs, running across a whole level of disintergrating platforms, riding a rollercoaster with the constant risk of being decapitated, water skiing behind a friendly dinosaur… I could go on and on , but I'll just mention the bouncy purple fruit which is a stroke of genius almost worthy of Miyamoto-san. Whilst playing this game I often laughed out loud at the inventiveness of the levels.

The object of Rayman 2, just like most platform games, is to make your way through the levels collecting a variety of different objects, in this case, Lums, (glowing lights), there are 1000 to be collected, also hanging throughout the levels are cages, often hidden or hard to reach that must be smashed open. Collect everything within a level and a bonus game will open up, (usually a race of some sort) Rayman comes equipped with the usual generic set of moves you would expect from a platform hero, walk, run, jump, hang on to ledges,… he can also spin his ears like a helicopter alowing him limited flight, and fire energy bolts from his fist to fight enemies or smash open cages. Combat is helped by the inclusion of Zelda style z-targeting. These combine with other level specific moves which Rayaman can learn, but you'll have to find them out for yourself.

Levels consist of a mixture of basic varietys. Some levels are strictly one sort, others use all of them.

1. 3d sections, where you are free to explore the world, searching for lums, and carrying out tasks, pulling levers etc..

2. Race sections. eg.You're sat on rocket travelling very fast through a series of twisty turny caves, or you are waterskiing behind a swimming dinosaur, or sliding down a slippery slope. These sections are primarily ‘on rails', although alternate routes are often provided.

3. 2.5d sections, The whole game is modeled in full 3d, however some parts are played in 2.5d with the camera fixed in one position or following you from the side. These sections act to focus the gameplay allowing the action to take place much faster than would otherwise be possible.eg: Every platform you step on disintergrates, basically it's a race against time, pause and you're dead.

4. Boss levels.

Controls are easy to pick up, and spot on throughout. If you die it's your fault, not the games. The camera also is fine throughout, with the c buttons allowing you to manipulate it yourself if need be.

Difficulty is the one problem people may have with this game. It's never impossible but we're talking ‘blast corps at its most stubborn' (diamond sands anyone?) difficulty for a few sections. And if you look at the level you can see bits where the evil designers have purposefully made things far more difficult than they need to be. Luckily there are plenty of checkpoints throughout so if you fail you reappear near enough to not be too disillusioned. The learning curve is quite well set out, tasks which initially appear impossible, become more and more within reach with each try.

The only other problem apparent is the games linearity. It didn't bother me, I found it evoked memories of old 2d platformers. Rayman 2's linear structure can be likened to Yoshis Island on the Super NES, reaching the end of a level opens up the next level. However reaching the end of a level and completing a level are two very different things. The chances of getting all the lums and cages from a level on the first trip through it are nigh on impossible, so theres plenty of replay value in trying to get everything, and plenty of levels to return to if you get stuclk on a later level of the game.



OVERALL
This game has been tried tested and polished to near perfection, that it comes from anyone other than rare or nintendo is quite a surprise. Inventive level design combined with fluid control contribute greatly towards Rayman 2's playability.

Rent it? Rayman 2 is a perfect rental title, fast focused and fun.

Worth buying? If it was just that little bit longer I'd have no hesitations in recommending Rayman 2 (I completed over 50% in 3 days,-I was off work with flu), I rented it and will be buying it second hand or in a sale when it's cheap enough, but I live in England where new N64 games are over priced, so that contributes to my decision in waiting.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/17/99, Updated 11/17/99


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