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Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc Preview

publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Ubisoft
genre: Action Adventure

PIII 600, 64MB RAM, 16MB Video Card
ESRB rating: E

release date: Mar 24, 03
» All About Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc on ActionTrip

On Christmas day, Santa walked into ActionTrip HQ, bringing with him 2CDs of Ubi Soft's latest action adventure - Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. While it may have been an ordinary semi-frozen mailman instead of Santa, (a version of the story that the rest of the editors seem to consider more plausible) I didn't care; my full attention went to the two newly arrived disks that contained a preview version of the sequel to the game widely accepted as the best action adventure in 1999.

If you have never played any of the Ubi Soft's Rayman games, let me give a short intro. Rayman is a cute little creature from a nice, colorful world where friendship, happiness, and harmony reign. "Right... another one of those plain Good vs. Evil plots," might be what you're thinking; you would be right. A world such as this one can only offer a semblance of a plot if some sort of villain appears here and there. This time, one of the red "lums" went naughty, and became a black lum. Subsequently, he decided to turn the rest of the lums into the little black thugs, or hoodlums. To make things worse, Rayman's best friend, Globox, managed to swallow the villain. Thus, your goal is to save your friend, destroy all of the bad guys, and catch the chief Hoodlum.

After the great success achieved by the previous Rayman game, it would be irrational to expect any changes concerning design and gameplay. Indeed, Rayman 3 brings nothing radically new that would jeopardize changing what players are already used to, though it does offer some noticeable changes to the previous Rayman adventure.

The first change that can be spotted is the shift of the focus of the game to the arcade element, in which one gathers gems and points, used to unlock bonus levels, and fights numerous bosses. On further reflection, the previous installment was something of an exception in regard to the proliferation of enemies, as the 2D version of Rayman used to be crammed with a myriad of various enemies, not to speak of Raymanu M, which was focused on combat. Now, even though I always preferred the "jump&grab" to the "jump&grab-while-trying-to-gun-down-several-enemies" gameplay principle, I didn't mind the change. The enemies are versatile, and also a bit more dangerous than they used to be, and Rayman has also learned a couple of new moves. He now has moves which are not only more precise, but also deadly; some of them can even knock-out an enemy hiding behind some cover.

The special ability system was also slightly modified for Rayman 3. The basic abilities such as strike, jump, chopper-jump and dive will all be available from the very start. In contrast, the more advanced abilities such as flying, special combat moves, guided missiles, or grappling hooks, some of which used to be acquired as the game progresses, are now available only for only a brief period of time after Rayman finds and drinks a special can (Super-Ed from Tonic Trouble, anyone?). These cans are propagated across the levels and can also be acquired by liberating "Teensies" from their cages. In any case, the cans are so displaced, due to the linearity of the game, that you will always need to use them in your next move, if you can find them.

The in-game atmosphere is really fabulous. To be quite frank, the only thing I was afraid Ubi-Soft would mess up was the atmosphere, which they didn't. The level design and visual design are incredibly good and will immerse you in Rayman's colorful world. The graphics are obviously much better than those seen in "The Great Escape".

I do not know weather or not the game utilizes the improved version of the old engine or a completely new one, but what I was able to see is that the game world now contains more better looking objects, the less blocky environments, more active terrains, better water, cool reflections, and a proper shadow for Rayman. In addition, both the textures and the animation are practically perfect.

The one thing that I disliked about the atmosphere were the sound effects, or, to be more specific, the fact that the characters now speak English. The incomprehensible language they spoke in the previous installments seemed infinitely more becoming to the game world than do the voices of the actors who unsuccessfully attempt to be funny. This isn't disastrous, but I guess I was merely used to their incessant murmuring.

Gameplay is nearly the same as in the last Rayman, which means that the game is designed to be played via game-pads. The keyboard controls seemed lacking in this preview version, and I cannot foresee how this problem will be solved, until the game is complete. If you have already played console ports on the keyboard, you shouldn't have much trouble getting accustomed to Rayman, although most beginners will probably feel lost if the developers decide not to include a free mouse look feature in the final version.

Until release, we can only wait. If you are an action-platformer fan, and you don't mind the childish story taking place in a motley world, "Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc" is definitely not a thing to miss.




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