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3: Hoodlum Havoc
Score: 8.0 / 10
Having never played a Rayman game, I wasnít
sure what to expect with Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, though I had heard
good things about the series. Iím not exactly sure if Rayman 3 meets and
exceeds the previous two games but it turns out to be a solid platformer
with some very nice graphics.
Just like the previous Rayman games, you assume the role of Rayman.
Hoodlum Havoc begins as Globox swallows the evil Lord of the Dark Lums.
The rest of the game is driven by Raymanís attempts to purge the Dark
Lord of the Lums from Globxís tummy, calming him along the way with vats
of plum juiceÖ truly the kind of story any gastrointestinal specialist
would have nightmares about.
The adventure sends Rayman on a linear romp through various levels
connected by extremely disorientating transition sequences.
The transitions throw Rayman onto a rocketboard and tasks him with
jumping from platform to platform while a psychedelic background
continually morphs and
flashes. Itís a trip! The skips between
stages are less dramatic Ė usually Rayman just drops into the
environment, sometimes preceded by a short in-game cutscene.
The levels themselves, although beautifully designed and filled with
small touches, use the same approach as Lost Vikings or Muchís Oddysee;
meaning that there are very specific
events to fulfill before progress is made through the bite-sized stages.
Itís not the kind of platforming action found in Banjo-Kazooie or Mario
Sunshine, which present huge levels to explore in a non-linear fashion
(for the most part). In Rayman 3, exploration is somewhat knee-capped by
choosing the linear path. As platformers have become almost synonymous
with huge explorable areas, itís a bit of a let down; however, that
doesnít mean replay suffers.
At the conclusion of each level youíre awarded a five-star ranking. The
more stars you earn (by finding secrets, taking out enemies quickly,
etc.) the more points you earn at the conclusion of the level. In turn,
these points go toward unlocking extra levels. The extra levels are
actually mini-games and short time wasters. But back to the five-star
ranking. If you think youíve done a good job of waxing a level in record
time and snagged all the secrets but finish the level with a mere
two-star rating you canít help but be a little angry and try the level
A bad camera will kill just about any platformer. Rayman 3ís camera is
good Ė most of the time. Sometimes it will flip-flop or the landscape
will get in the way and cause disorientation, which can in turn lead to
cheap shots from enemies you canít even see or getting stuck on an
object when time is a factor. This is avoided with most boss encounters
since the camera will remain static so you can concentrate on winning
rather than adjusting the camera. The camera can be manipulated by using
the right stick and centered with the right trigger, but when youíre
facing down three or more enemies you canít help be feel completely
undone when the action gets intense.
Rayman can target specific enemies with a lock-on feature. Mostly Rayman
attacks with his fists but he can also find power-ups that allow him to
perform hurricane punches and grappling slings. I didnít find any
problems with the action in Rayman 3 Ė in fact some of confrontations
are downright gripping Ė but when the camera suddenly whips around and
you lose your bearings some face-offs are downright deadly.
As was mentioned, Rayman 3ís graphics are great. Theyíre packed with
tons of color and have a sense of fun about them. The game also has a
good snapshot feature that will be little used except for hardcore fans
that want a Rayman-themed wallpaper on their computer desktop. Even
then, the feature comes in handy when trying to uncover secrets or make
a plan of attack.
But is Rayman 3 better than other platformers on the Xbox? Vexx? Blinx:
The Time Sweeper? Really itís the eternal question: Which game should I
spend my money on? And the eternal answer: Depends. Rayman 3 continues
the Rayman legacy and looks great doing it. Vexx takes its cues from the
all-time classic Super Mario 64 in an attitude all its own. Blinx: The
Time Sweeper has some pretty cool effects and a big smiling cat. The
wimpy answer is, "Theyíre all special in their own way." One step above
is, "Rent Ďem all and figure it out yourself." Iím told that if youíre a
fan of Rayman youíll enjoy yourself, even with the cameraís foibles. The
camera and the linear fashion of the levels didnít make me a Rayman
convert but I did have fun Ė especially with those drug-inspired
transition sections. Far out, man! (Come to think of it, Rayman 3 could
just be an extended metaphor for tripping on acid Ė there goes the "E"