The PS2 certainly doesnít want for platformers, and while
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc may get lost in a sea of them, itís
deserving of gamerís attention to say the least.
Ubi Softís Rayman has been gaining critical praise and a core
following since his earliest appearance on the ill-fated Atari
Jaguar. Numerous ports, a party game, and two sequels later
everyoneís favorite limbless mascot character is once again winning
over fans with an extremely solid platformer with a lot of charm and
a lot of humor.
If you want to get right down to it, Rayman 3 is just a damn
fun game. Iíve never particularly been a fan of 3D platformers, but
if games like Ratchet and Clank and Rayman 3 keep
being released I just might turn into one. Hoodlum Havoc has
all the things a 3D platformer needs to succeed on a gameplay level.
It has plenty of gameplay variety, more than any other platformer on
the market to be quite honest. It has clever puzzles and bosses that
require skill and timing to complete. It has hidden items and secret
areas galore, enough to keep perfectionists busy for a few weeks. It
even has a clever point system that rewards you for how well you
play the game. And youíll want to keep playing until you do it
right, as some of the things you can unlock with your earned points
are truly worth it, like bonus video footage, classic arcade-style
mini-games, and even a 2D side-scrolling version of the game!
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc
is also one of the funniest games Iíve played in a long, long time.
It manages to actually be laugh-out-loud funny at times, which is a
rarity in gaming. It doesnít take itself too seriously and often
pokes fun of the fact that it is a video game, which is reminiscent
of the early to mid 90s Steven Spielberg produced Warner Brothersí
cartoons in that respect. It has some hilarious dialogue, delivered
by killer talent including the always-incredible John Leguizano and
the venerable Billy West, and even connects when its purely visual,
demonstrated in the ďWanna Kick Rayman?Ē instructional videos. It
just makes this game a joy to play and gives you something, even
beyond the gameplay and tons of hidden material, to keep pushing
Keeping with the stellar voice work, the music and sound effects in
Rayman 3 are equally high quality. It has all the goofy,
cartoon-like sound effects youíd expect in a game like this, as well
as some very nice surround sound support. The soundtrack is diverse,
to say the least, and features everything from whimsical, Danny
Elfman-esque tracks to tribal beats to P-Funk flavored hip-hop cuts
to disco numbers. Yes, disco. It can be a little schizophrenic at
times, jumping back and forth between so many different styles of
music like that, but it keeps with the frenetic pace and wacky,
unpredictable feel of the game.
Like everything else in the game, the visuals are almost
surprisingly well done. While not necessarily as high detail or
impressive as Ratchet and Clank, they are definitely
attractive in their own right. The game is wall-to-wall bright,
vibrant colors, characters are smooth and full of personality, and
the environments are distinctly different. There are, however,
frequent drops in frame rate whenever the on-screen action gets
intense. Hopefully this problem is only present in the Playstation 2
version, as the Xbox and GameCube should be more than able to handle
this game at a constant, respectable frame rate.
One problem the game does have that I fear is universal to all the
ports is the horrible camera. The Achillesí heel of nearly every 3rd
person game to date, and particularly platformers, has been the
camera. Does a developer go with a fixed camera? A pre-scripted
camera? Over the shoulder? If so, how far away should it be from the
character? How should you track enemies? Should players be able to
control where it moves? If so, does it lock into place or should it
just float around, auto-centering itself? Should we just forget the
whole thing and make it fully manual? It seems like no matter what
choice they make, itís the wrong one, and very few 3rd
person games, platformers included, have ever gotten it right.
Rayman 3 has the misfortune of having one of the worst cameras
Iíve seen so far for a 3D, 3rd person platformer. Itís
partly over the shoulder, partly pre-scripted, partly manual, and
wholly frustrating. The camera swivels too slowly with the analog
stick to be of any use, making anything but running directly forward
tricky, and the pre-scripted angles are never in a friendly
position. It damn near ruins the game. Luckily, Rayman 3 is
so well done and so enjoyable that youíll learn to tolerate it and
work against it just to experience everything this game has to
Itís really hard not to like this game. The characters, the
gameplay, the replayability, the things to unlock, the mini-games,
the music, the colors, the humor; they all come together to form one
incredibly tight package. Even the utterly horrific camera and
rampant slowdown canít tarnish this game all that much. If you are a
die-hard platformer fan this game needs to be in your collection,
ditto for anyone Rayman fanatics out there. If you arenít a
big fan of the genre you might want think twice, as you may be less
willing to overlook the camera issues than others, but itís still
worth checking out nonetheless.
Bright, vibrant world.
Likable, humors characters.
Lots of gameplay variety.
Plenty to unlock.
Pretty darn funny most of the time.
Good enough to justify putting up with such a debilitating camera.
Highly recommended for anyone with a sense of humor and a hunger for