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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
GENRE: Platformer
January 31, 2001
Rayman Legends

Rayman Origins

Rayman Origins

Rabbids Lab

Rabbids Go Home

More in this Series
 Written by Ilan Mejer  on September 04, 2002

Full Review: Rayman returns in yet another port from his original second debut on the N64, ultimately as an improved PS2 game.

Although Rayman only officially spans two actual titles as a platformer, he has already appeared in almost a dozen different games, thanks to Ubi Soft's propensity to augment and port him to just about every game system in existence. Rayman 2 began as a somewhat exclusive Nintendo 64 title called The Great Escape. Since then, it was released on the PC, downgraded for the PSOne, upgraded for the Dreamcast, and now upgraded once again for Sony's newest console. Presumably, this is the penultimate version of Rayman 2, hence the ?Revolution' moniker. However, does it live up to its previous incarnations, or is it simply a too late, too tired rehash of a once-great title?

Rayman 2's launch on the PS2 was extremely muted, unsurprising given that this is the final port of a well-traveled game. The original Rayman 2 was a great success one generation ago on Nintendo's system, and his ports to other consoles were met with sufficient, though varying degrees, of success to warrant one last upgrade. One of the features that made Rayman 2 such a memorable title was the appearance of the hero, a limb-less, neck-less hero whose successful design in every way mirrored the magnificent level design and attention to detail that Ubi Soft was able to incorporate years ago. The game has seen a much welcome injection in the technological department, one that augments the original graphics many times over, though they were inspired even then. The game's aesthetic design is truly magnificent, and though the game in no way abuses the Playstation 2's resources, his upgraded appearance compliments the original game's vision remarkably. The game was not rebuilt from the ground up for the PS2. Apparently, most of the graphical resources from the Dreamcast port were implemented along with Criterion's Renderware engine to facilitate Rayman's appearance on Sony's console. The models, particularly those of Rayman, have been rounded significantly, resulting in a smoother, better looking character, particularly now that they are lit and shadowed in real time. Additionally, the aesthetics were tweaked so that the game looks much more colorful and vibrant than every before, giving the game a more stylized, cartoonish slant. This is not an unwelcome change for the Rayman world, as it in no way sacrificed the original's organic designs. Finally, the level design was augmented in that certain previously static 2D backgrounds have largely been replaced by polygonal objects, giving the world a more complete, lush appearance.

However, the changes instituted in this port are not without their drawbacks. The game world looks more realized and cohesive, and the characters are definitely more impressive, the framerate is now significantly inconsistent. Presumably, this version was not optimized for the PS2, as the DC port was locked at a solid 60 fps. Additionally, the texture work has suffered. True, the graphics are now more lively and colorful, but certain textures, particularly on the ground, are inferior to those of the Dreamcast. Though there is much more geometry on display at any given time, now lit in real time, so too have the clipping and seaming problems increased. Essentially, though the PS2 port of Rayman 2 is technologically superior to the Dreamcast version (the only other version that can compare), the result is one that lacks the polish and overall quality of Sega's incarnation.

Ubi Soft knows how to do their prime mascot justice and have supplied Rayman 2 with a truly magnificent audio experience. While impressive in the N64 original, the music and sounds for Rayman 2 simple shone on the Dreamcast, and that experience has be recreated perfectly intact on the Playstation 2. The only questionable change was that the voiced speech now defaults to English instead of the cute and somehow fitting Raymanian gibberish. In a surprisingly generous move, you'll have the option to play the game in one of four voiced languages; English, Spanish, French, and Raymanian (yes!) Additionally, you can also change the written text to one of those three real languages. The music for the game is near perfection, featuring some of the best tunes you will ever hear in a platform game, or ever. The music is mostly dynamic, and will conform to your current situation, as has been the trend since the Nintendo 64 days. The music, of which there is much, is wonderfully complimented by a large array of ambient sound effects that perfectly reflect the many lush environments you will be visiting.

Although the game is essentially in its fifth incarnation, the gameplay for the PS2 port has been tweaked significantly, more so than any other version. Previous versions of the game had Rayman begin with a core set of abilities from the start, which included the ability to reflect his shots off walls and fire multiple shots at once. Rayman has now been weakened greatly at the outset, his one-time natural powers now distilled into multiple power upgrades, which must be bought in between explorations. Once purchased, Rayman's abilities are permanently upgraded, and Rayman 2 purists will begin to feel more at home. This actually helps to lend an added level of polish, variety, and difficulty to the gameplay, as his abilities now follow a much slower progression. You will be able to augment your shots by accumulating your power and unleashing it (two levels), fire a shot with each hand with greater speed, bounce your blasts off walls, and eventually off other enemies as well. Additionally, you will gain the ability to carry objects with greater agility, learn to harness your powers to create magical tethers to swing by, perform a rain dance to affect environments, and even fly in limited situations. There are a large variety of abilities to harness and master throughout Rayman's quest. The game is a near perfect blend of vertical and horizontal platforming, with highly stylized and varied vehicular speed sequences. Additionally, a variety of game modes and hidden mini-games are available to be unlocked, many of them exclusive to this version. Some can be unlocked by furthering Rayman's main quest; others may be purchased once you have maximized Rayman's abilities. These add an extra element of challenge and replay that previous versions of the Rayman 2 experience lacked, though perhaps not justify purchasing the game once again for repeat customers.

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