Rayman 2: The Great Escape
Review by MechaMrEd
"A great game, if short, and at times hair-tearingly difficult."
Rayman 2? So what was Rayman 1, I thought to myself while looking at this game in the shop. Well, it turns out it was a pretty PSX platformer that wasn't much cop. Still, I bought it, due to the nice reviews that the Multi-format press gave it (the nintendo mags however, as usual, compared it to Mario and said how rubbish a character Rayman was). I was in for a surprise. It was actually very good.
Robotic pirates led by the short and stumpy Admiral Razorbeard have invaded Rayman's world from deep space. Rayman is human like creature with a serious lack of limbs, he just has floating hands and feet. The pirates accidently destroyed the core of the world, weakening Rayman. He is captured, and taken to the main prision ship. His frog like friend Globox sneaks in a silver Lum, which gives him the power to escape. He and Globox are seperated on the way down from the ship (I did mention it was a flying ship, didn't I?) and the adventure begins.
Rayman has been compared to Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, which it shouldn't be. Rayman 2 is very similar to an old style platform game. Rayman has very few moves, he can jump, swim, hover, fire unlimited energy balls and at points, fly. One of the best things about this game is the variation. In the first 2 levels, it's just jumping through lush forests, platforming, shooting switches and throwing gunpowder barrels. However, it won't be long before you're watersking behind a snake, flying by clutching to a lit gunpowder keg, flying a pirate ship, riding on the back of a rocket with legs, and much, much, more. Your quest mainly consists of collecting the yellow Lums (or Lum as some characters call them. Or Lumz as the manual says). These are the thousand shards of the core that the pirates destroyed, and they open up new worlds. There are other lums; Red Lums (health) Green Lums (Restart points) Purple Lums (rings which Rayman can shoot and swing on) and blue Lums (air when underwater). The other part of your quest is to collect 4 masks to awaken Polokus, the spirit of the world, to kick the pirate's behind.
The graphics are some of the best seen on the N64. How on earth they are going to port this to playstation is beyond me. The enviroments differ a lot, from mountain tops to pirate forts, from mistical sancutuaries to murky swamps. The levels are very well designed, at one point, when you are speeding through a Pirate ship on a rocket, you can see ladders and stairs going up to the holes you are zipping through, creating a realistic looking world.
The contols are great. Gliding with Rayman's helicopter hair is simple, and the Z targeting works well on the times when you have to fight the pirates. There is a lot of automatic targeting with Rayman's shots, you only need to shoot in the general direction of a switch to hit it.
The sound is great in the speech department. It is handled in a similar way to Banjo-Kazooie, with unintelliagble noises accompying the text, but the developers have tried hard to make it sound like a proper language. The only speech in English is when a name is said.
The music, however, is poor. During the first boss battle, you are battling to a very slow tune for example. Not very appropriate. This continues for the whole game, but a lot of the game has no music at all, which is good. The music isn't terrible, not hard on the ears or anything, just a bit drab. The only good music is during the cutscene updates on Admiral Razorbeard's evil doings.
I would not recommend this game if you aren't very good at games. This game can get VERY HARD at times. You have unlimited goes at most hard things. The green Lums aren't very reliable checkpoints. They only work if you fall into oblivion (which is the most common way to die). If you lose all your health it's back to the last big point (where the screen fades out). Okay, this can be frustrating, but in the most evil levels like the cave of bad dreams (lots of falling platforms and precision jumping) and the precipice (chased by a pirate ship along falling bridges) there is a fair number of checkpoints. Sometimes however (The precipice especailly) you'll be saying ''end, end, for the love of God end!''.
Another problem is the shortness of this game. It took me 3 weeks between first play and the finish, but this was during play of my brand spankingly new copies of DK64 and Smash Brothers. I think most gamers could finish it in under a week with ease. But, you could go back and collect every yellow lum and cage in the game to get 100%. That would be very hard, but it's such a good game it deserves all the play time it can get.
I love this game. The characters are some of the best I've seen in a game, and it seems like a good cartoon. Rayman isn't great, but his friends Globox (a nerous frog thing), Clark (a massive ogre, who's a bit simple) and his arch enemy Razorbeard (a very short pirate with a erm... razor, yes, beard) are very well designed.
I don't usally say this, as I don't ever rent games, but you may consider giving this a rental. It doesn't matter if can't finish it, it's memory card, so you can always buy the game (or re-rent it) and start from where you left off. If you want all the Lums however, you'll need to buy it. I recommend you buy though. Hey, I got through this whole review without saying ''It's very French'' once, or even mentioning it was French, once. It is though, but I don't see why it matters. It's a great game.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/03/00, Updated 02/03/00
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