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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
8.8
Visuals
8.5
Audio
9.0
Gameplay
9.0
Features
9.0
Replay
8.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
Ubisoft
DEVELOPER:
Ubisoft
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
March 17, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Everyone
IN THE SERIES
Rayman Legends

Rayman Origins

Rayman Origins

Rabbids Lab

Rabbids Go Home

More in this Series
 Written by Jeff Milligan  on June 02, 2003

Full Review: The limbless hero returns, only this time he has arms! ?Yeah, maybe not.


If you take a look back at some of the recent platform games that have been released, you may find that their fate isn't very well conceived. Platform games like Vexx, Zapper, and Spyro (recent Spyro anyway) after having a seemingly good storyline, concept, and characters, for some reason don't make it into the ?elite? class of platformers. Whether it's due to execution, presentation, or because it's just plain boring, these games fall short of what gamers come to expect. However, the Rayman series has, for one reason or another, been acclaimed as one of the best series platform gaming has to offer. With its zany characters, crazy environments, wacky enemies, and down right fun action, its no wonder gamers have come to love the limbless hero.

Luckily, Rayman 3 stays close to its roots. Many familiar characters make their return, which may bring back a feeling of nostalgia for some of you. Being somewhat new to the Rayman series myself, I came into this review not knowing exactly what to expect. However, as soon as I powered up my Playstation 2 and viewed the opening cinematic for Hoodlum Havoc, I knew exactly what I was going to be in for, and it looked like fun.

The story behind the madness is a simple one, and also one that makes little to no sense, exactly what a platform game needs. It starts out when Rayman's big, blue buddy Globox swallows the Lord of the Dark Lums. Rayman and Globox now have to set out to find a cure for poor Globox. Intrigued yet? It gets even better. Apparently, this dark lord rolls in the best of circles, because now Globox and Rayman have to face the wrath of the Hoodlums, which isn't going to make their journey any easier. Lucky for you the Hoodlum A.I. isn't all that great, but don't worry, their grenades and rifles are sure to catch you off-guard once in a while.

To make matters worse, the Lums not only want to rescue the Dark Lum Chief from Globox's bottomless pit of a stomach, but they also want to send the world into a state of endless darkness. Naturally, Rayman decides to take it upon himself to save his big blue friend, and save the fate of the world. Nice storyline, eh? I told you it made no sense, which is why we love it.

Along your journey, long time pal Murfy becomes sort of your instructor. Right from the beginning of the game, Murfy starts sputtering out hilarious messages, which are supposed to aid you in your quest, but really only provide background humor. When you have your guide telling you ?C'mon you haven't scored yet, I hope you have better luck with the ladies?, you tend to forget about learning exactly how to play the game and just charge in. Murfy stays with you for basically the entire duration of the game, and keeps his smart mouth with him throughout.

With the Hoodlums in the way of saving the world, Rayman is going to have to do a lot of battling to complete his quest. The good thing is that Rayman is combat ready. We've never seen anyone throw punches quite as good as Rayman can. Maybe it's because he has no arms, and his fists can actually be thrown, but we're not going to get all philosophic on you to figure it out. Rayman can also utilize lots of power-ups along the way. If Rayman happens to stumble upon a colored paint can lying on the floor, he can gain the color specific power-up that lies within. Power-ups range from the powerful ?Heavy Metal Fists?, to the explosive ?Shock Rocket?. Each power-up lasts a short period of time, but can be reused as many times as you need them as long as the can remains on the ground. Using power-ups on enemies and to find secrets is one of the best parts of Rayman 3 for sure.

Controlling Rayman is relatively easy, even when he has some not-so-easy to use power-ups. Rayman can use his spiky little head to help him glide over objects and water, which comes in quite handy. Holding down the jump button causes his hair to spin, giving him a helicopter gliding effect. It seems lots of games are learning what the Zelda lock-on battling can do for your game, and Rayman 3 is no different. Holding down the R1 button locks you on to the nearest target, making it easy to fire off punches. Speaking of throwing punches, while Rayman is locked on to a target, he can strafe to the left and right. If punches are thrown while strafing, Rayman's fists will curve to the left or right, making it possible for Rayman to punch around obstacles (hint hint).

While you're playing through Rayman 3, you my notice certain objects that can be collected. Collecting many of these jewel-like items in one short spurt will turn on Combo Mode, which causes the number of points to rise per pick-up gained. What's the point of these jewels you ask? Gaining a certain amount of points will unlock numerous bonus levels. Bonus levels have no impact on the main portion of the game, but are humorous to play through when you don't feel like continuing on in the main quest. Bonus levels include Rayman trying to save a fort from oncoming Hoodlum's, to playing a game of tennis with the Hoodlums. The bonus levels are another one of Hoodlum Havoc's strong points.

During your adventure, Rayman will venture through many different levels, each having a different design to them. You may start off in a cozy little forest, but later on you may find yourself next to a witch's cauldron outside of a piranha infested swamp. Each level is very nicely designed, despite the fact that each level is somewhat small in size. It only takes a couple of minutes to blow through each level, but with all of the colorful humor going on, you won't mind.

As I mentioned, I'm somewhat new to the whole Rayman scene, so comparing the graphics to what players have seen in previous Rayman games just isn't going to work. However, what can be said is that the graphical engine behind Rayman suits the rest of the package almost to a tee. Beautifully done character models, environments, and enemies all play their part with Hoodlum Havoc. The game is also quite sharp around the edges, making characters and enemies stand out against their backgrounds. Rich colors in both characters and environments also play their role in making for a great looking game.

When you have a guide that likes to crack jokes all the time, good sound is extremely beneficial. All the characters within Rayman 3 can speak, and they can all be heard clearly. Crisp voice acting is very apparent in Rayman 3, which is a big plus. John Leguizamo voices the role of sidekick Globox, and does an amazing job of spewing out catchy phrases and hilarious mumblings.

Voice acting isn't the only good side of the sound department within Hoodlum Havoc. Real-time sound effects are implemented here, which adds greatly to the whole ?cartoonish? setting. The background music and FMV clip tunes are catchy as well, ranging from hip-hop beats to melodramatic classical. The musical tone really helps Rayman 3 flow more smoothly. I suppose running in Dolby Pro Logic II doesn't hurt either.

Although Hoodlum Havoc isn't the longest of games out there, it packs in enough of an adventure to satisfy most platform fans. Hoodlum Havoc may be able to squeeze in 15 hours of gameplay for the main quest, but will probably round out about 10 hours for those who blow through the levels quickly. The bonus levels can add an extra few hours here and there, but only if you take the time to unlock them all. Luckily, most of them can be unlocked just by going through the main quest normally without trying to get an excessive amount of points.

Bottom Line
To put it simply, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc is a great example of what a platform game can be with the correct execution. Despite the fact that the game is relatively short, it proves to be one of the best platform games to grace a next-gen console thus far. In short, if you're a fan of platform games, a buy is definitely well worth the price-tag Rayman holds. Even casual gamers may find Rayman 3 to their liking. If this is any indication of the direction that platform games are heading, the future may hold some very promising platform games.


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