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Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc Review
genre: Action Adventure
PIII 600, 64MB RAM, 16MB Video Card
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Mar 24, 03 (released)
|» All About Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc on ActionTrip|
We sure do like Rayman.
So Globox, when are we gonna find a nice bluish and chubby girlie for ya?
Our limbless hero charges forth to battle.
We spent countless hours playing the beta that Ubi Soft was kind enough to send us - then while we were celebrating the (finally) successful completion of the beta we had received, we relaxed for a bit, only to find the review copy of the very same game. Our hearts aflutter, we then delved back into the world of Rayman, going over the same ground, and covering quite a bit more. We were in heaven.
The trouble in Rayman's world started when one red lum (a shiny red ball representing positive energy) turned mischievous and became black. (So he was blackballed? What, no blueballs? - Ed) Now, that wouldn't be much of a problem if it hadn't influence many other lums, imperiling the entire world... Now, Rayman has to convert all the black hoodlums to the right side, in order to stop the reign of darkness!
As we already pointed out in the exclusive preview, the first thing that a player who played the previous sequel, The Great Escape, will notice is that the focus is more focused around combat and non-stop action, to give it a more arcadeish feel. Previous games in the series were much more focused on jumping, camera orientation, lum hunting and puzzle solving while the fire button lay largely idle. There'll be none of that here... the enemies will keep popping up, not giving you a chance to rest and you will simply have mete out mutual justice and ass-kickings for all.
While there are a host of beasties that have decided to make your life a bit more painful, the combat isn't at all frustrating, which doesn't take away from the gameplay. One of the things that made the previous games so enjoyable is that the game wasn't so sadistically frustrating that the player wasn't so beleaguered that the player was never concerned about his hit point and reserve life count. In this game, whatever the situation, however outnumbered you are and even if they do take you down a couple of times, even if you think "F--k, I f---ing hate these f---ing guys, I'll never f---ing pass this!" you will still enter every level firmly believing that you will kick their ass on this go-around, you will get them the next time. I can't guarantee you won't get annoyed at all, but the frustration level has really been reduced to near-zero in this game.
There are about fifteen types of enemies, and they have been deployed according to the standard model: you first encounter the weaker ones, and, as the game progresses, you get to face the meaner ones, with an odd level boss here and there. You shouldn't have a problem with figuring out how to defeat any of them. The most important novelty at your disposal in combat is the "bow strike". This type of strike not only lets you hit an opponent hidden behind an obstacle, but it also seems to be more precise when you want to hit a moving or flying target. Your force blasts also get stronger by holding the fire button longer, and strafing is enabled, so the fights are more easily managed..
Apart from the combat, the game features a lot of climbing, jumping, running around (and through) lava, some swimming and diving. The levels are crammed with jewels which will grant you bonus points. The points are not crucial for completing the game; they are only used to unlock the bonus levels and get your name into the high-score list. Gathering a lot of jewels in a short time will make your score soar.
These bubbles make you wonder what little Rayman had for lunch.
I see stars everywhere!
Another good thing is that there is quite a lot of health lums around. The health lums will disappear once you collect them, but they will reappear as soon as you lose any energy, so that you can collect them again. As soon as you are done with the initial levels, you will also get the Rayman's well known laugh that can turn the black lums into red ones once you defeat them.
The controls are identical to the controls in the previous sequel, with addition of mouse look. You will initially have to spend some time getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, gameplay is a song. If you played the previous sequel or, indeed, any other similar 3D platform game, you probably won't have any problems with the controls to begin with, but if you didn't, I guess you will have trouble with orientation and camera, and this takes the most getting used to. Now, when you consider the substantial number of controls - strafe, jump, laugh, walk, you will realize that the controls can get tricky in combat when you have to do all these things fairly quickly. Remember that time is not something you have in unlimited quantities... in order to improve game dynamics, the developers decided to turn some normal skills into time-limited ones. This goes for skills like: flying, power-punch, firing guided missiles and using the metal jaw.
Visually, Rayman looks quite good, which goes without saying, knowing how good the first two parts looked... the development team obviously realized that most people have computers faster than 400MHz and that they can freely increase the number of polygons. And really, this enhanced version of the engine brings us levels full of objects and detail, and the characters look much better and less blocky than in previous incarnations, and have decent shadows. Furthermore, some simple effects like the light beam Rayman used to cling to surfaces, got replaced with a chain with a metal jaw at the far end, etc. The engine improvements influenced level design, making levels richer in detail and enemies, and much, much bigger.
There are altogether more than fifty levels in 11 segments and the more bonus points you get the more bonus levels you will unlock (nine of them altogether). Only I doubt that you will spend much time playing the bonus levels as they are not really too interesting (they are in fact mini-games like - squashing the frog, tossing bombs, a quasi FPS similar to the first game of the serial, etc.). Still, it is a pleasure of its own to simply unlock them. There is no multiplayer mode in Hoodlum Havoc, and all of you who want to fight each other will have to cope with Rayman M (Rayman Arena) which appeared about six months ago.
The sounds were upgraded as well. If we disregard the large number or perfectly recorded sounds and the excellent music, the sad fact remains that the characters started speaking proper English in "normal" voices. I always loved the fact that all creatures had their own languages, as I believe that only improved the atmosphere...none of that here, but its not really missed.
Besides this tiny "flaw", the third Rayman game has completely fulfilled our expectations. The development team didn't say "Let's make a couple of new levels and rush up the graphics and call it a day"; they obviously took on developing this game with a strong will to introduce as many novelties as possible, in order to preserve the spirit of the game without disappointing the fans. This is why I was also happy to find out on the official forums these days that the fourth sequel is already being planed!
8.5 Very Good
A great arcade platformer, which is still a rarity on PC, excellent atmosphere, low frustration level, humor, and did I mention the game has reasonable price tag of $19.99...
Controls are not made for beginners, "normal" speech.
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