Rayman 3 HD Review
Game: Rayman 3 HD
Available on: Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade (reviewed on Xbox 360 via Xbox Live Arcade)
When Rayman 3 was first released back in 2003, it had some pretty big boots to fill. Rayman 2, specifically the N64 version, pushed the 3D platform genre on and set a new benchmark, one that had been created a few years earlier by a certain Italian plumbers first foray into 3D space. It’s easy to forget that Rayman had a big say in the future of a genre dominated by the squat mustachio.
Ubisoft has now seen fit to give Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc the “HD” treatment, hence the name change. In this adventure, André, the leader of the Black Lums, turns life giving Red Lums into Black Lums to join him. He eventually gains enough power to transform into a Hoodlum (the bad guys in overcoats), and goes on the hunt for Rayman. When he finds Rayman, mayhem ensues and Globox, Rayman’s big dumb friend, manages to accidentally swallow André. Rayman and Globox must now travel across the land in search of a doctor who can remove André from Globox, defeating enemies and solving puzzles along the way.
Rayman has the usual punch, charge punch and kick abilities in this game, as well as the helicopter hair that allows him to float between well placed platforms and locations. This edition of Rayman brings to the table 5 power-ups for Rayman to play with. These strategically placed power-ups are used help Rayman progress through a level, and come in the form of Power Punch, Whirlwind, Helicopter Hat, Claw Arms and my personal favourite, Rocket, with which you take control of a redeemer style rocket and guide it to your desired target. All of the power ups last for a limited period and tend to help add to the strategy as well as often giving hints as to where you need to send Rayman next.
You’ll get to see and use all of the power-ups by the end of the second chapter (of which there are nine), and each chapter is split into several levels. The chapters are all set in different locations around Rayman’s world, including peaceful forests, mucky swamps and the obligatory lava and water themed levels. Power-ups are needed to complete almost all tasks in the game, and different power-ups are often used in sequence to get Rayman from A to B. On one level you have to use the helicopter hat to reach a high point, use the claw arms to grapple across a canyon, and then use power punch to beat down a door, all in quick succession. This way of doing things is fun for a while, but the game does seem to settle into a familiar pattern, and I found myself to be merely going through the motions by the time the credits rolled around. The game is broken up by some awesome boss battles, which usually crop up towards the end of a chapter. These are the sort of boss battles that The Legend of Zelda would be proud of, some of them are truly inventive. Fighting a giant pair of bungee powered legs, driven by a crazed mad man who is trying to stomp Rayman into oblivion was a great laugh, and all the more satisfying considering that you must use his attacks against him in order to prevail.
Visually Rayman 3 HD is a bit of a mixed bag. None of the models have been updated so expect to see plenty of hard lines and jagged edges. Many of the textures have been reworked, and its Rayman 3 HD’s painterly art style that really pleases the eye. Who needs a 20,000 poly character with textures this pretty? Rayman’s art style lends itself to this technique perfectly and it’s a credit to the game’s artists that the game looks truly lovely in places. Every now and then light will bounce off of Rayman’s face and off all the surfaces around him and you forget your playing a game running on an engine that is nearly 10 years old. One niggle that is very much ‘of the time’ is the games camera. It likes to put itself into the most useless of places at times, meaning you need to manoeuvre Rayman round in a big circle (which isn’t always possible) to get a good view of what you are doing. You can control the camera with the right analogue stick, so it’s definitely worth getting used to doing this yourself from the start.
Rayman 3 was the first Rayman game to feature full voice acting, and for a first try, the voice track isn’t a bad effort. It is a bit of a struggle to hear was is being said at times, as the voice acting may be a little too wacky in places. It wasn’t a rare occurrence that I would find myself wondering what an earth was going on, but hey, this is Rayman, its crazy, so it’s all good. Rayman’s drunkard sidekick Globox is utterly adorable, and often comes out with some great one liners. Globox is a lover of plumb wine, and when he sees a barrel of the stuff, he’ll scream “A BARREL”, run to it and down the lot in one go. Music has always been one of the Rayman series shining lights, and this game doesn’t disappoint in that department either. Each chapter has its own unique, perfectly suited score, whilst enemies bring their own music to the party when they decide to attack. The only let down here is that the audio emulation seems to be imperfect, causing music transitions and loops to become choppy, which breaks the illusion somewhat. The main game is joined by 8 unlockable mini games, including a rather fun trip down memory lane, back to when Rayman was young and 2D.
VERDICT: Rayman 3 HD is a solid platformer with a cracking art style backed up by a terrific soundtrack. While the gameplay gets a bit tired and repetitive towards the end of the game, there is enough here to make it worth checking out, especially if you are a platform game junkie and missed out on the game first time around.