Review by Malorkus

"The right to bear no arms."

Life without arms must be a real inconvenience. Gone would be the days of using your hands to execute the simplest 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, and kneeing people in the face. 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 oversized nose, Rayman 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, this game takes a more linear approach that works for its benefit for the most part.

Rayman and his buddies have been kidnapped by Admiral Razorbeard and his army of robotic space pirates. The captives are taken to the prison ship to be used as slaves to carry treasure. You know, like pirates do. Rayman plans an escape route for him and his fellow inmates, but requires the power of the Lums (little fairy things) in order to do so. Rayman 2 follows the classic platform formula of traversing an obstacle course to reach the goal. Environments cover 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. Collecting Lums in each stage is one of the primary objectives. Each Lum triggers a certain action depending on its color. For instance, a red Lum will replenish your health, 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 an impressive challenge. Occasionally, you will come across one of your lost friends caged in a precarious situation, and freeing enough of them will increase your health bar. Many stages revolve around, many of which not have obvious solutions, forcing you into a game of trial and error. While the game may have a kid-friendly appeal, a few of these dilemmas will have adults bashing their heads against the wall. In numerous stages, you will be pitted in a vehicle, such as a water ski or a rocket, while dodging obstacles in your wake.

Rayman 2 has several shortcomings, though, such as when the game's camera acts 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. 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, such as on a missile in which you must constantly re-position yourself. Additionally, collecting fifty Lums per stage can become tedious, especially when it comes to scouring each stage for hours on end just for the one or two you may have missed.

Rayman 2: The Great Escape is an entertaining diversion from the standard platform titles of the same era. The linear action works to the game's benefit, focusing much more on actual platform challenges. There is also a level of challenge in the game that will test even the more experienced platform game veterans. The puzzles and boss fights will often stump you. It's a crying shame that some of the controls feel so non-intuitive at times. Collecting Lums can get tedious at times, and the voice acting is 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 12/05/16

Game Release: Rayman 2: The Great Escape (US, 11/06/99)

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