Rayman 2: The Great Escape
One of the best old-school platform games out there has to be the original Rayman for PlayStation. To give you an idea of how old the game is, it came out before Gamezilla! was in existence. There are not too many PSX games that you can say that about. Anyway, Rayman had a great hero, storyline, graphics and gameplay and since the day that I finished it, I was hungry for more. Nearly four years later, my hunger has been satisfied.
The original was a good old fashion 2D side-scrolling platform game. Rayman 2 takes our hero into the vast and beautiful world of 3D. There are 45 new areas that you will try to conquer all the while learning new skills. You will run, jump, ski, swim, climb, slide, swing and fly trying to collect Lums and break open caged friends, setting them free. There are plenty of characters that you will meet along the way making this adventure worthy of the Rayman name.
Rayman makes the jump from 2D to 3D with pretty successful results. There are hours and hours of gameplay to be had in this adventure. Be prepared to battle enemies (albeit fairly easy enemies), solve puzzles, and try to gather 1,000 Lums. While this may not be the biggest game ever, it is large and if you want to complete it 100 percent, be prepared to invest some serious gaming hours. The best part is that all of the hours are well worth it because this game is just fun to play.
Let's talk about the puzzles for a second. The thing that I really liked about them was that they were challenging yet not overly difficult. If anything, most bordered on not quite challenging enough but I think they really fit the game well. The main objective is exploring, gathering Lums and freeing your friends. The puzzles presented just enough of a roadblock to slow you down but they will never make you slam down the controller in frustration.
As I just mentioned, the biggest part of this game consists of gathering Lums and breaking open cages to save your friends. They did a great job of really making you look around in every nook and cranny to locate these items. If you are not thorough in your search, you will inevitably miss a few. Even if you are thorough, you will probably miss a couple and you will scratch your head in wonderment of where you could have possibly missed them. The great thing about the game is that you do not have to find every single item to advance to the next world so the inexperienced gamer can still continue on and the hardcore gamer can keep searching the levels to get 100 percent. This fact alone helps the game be fun for the entire family.
Another good thing about this game is the control. Rayman goes exactly where you direct him and jumping and shooting are instantaneous. Sure, that seems obvious but some games just miss this key element, especially in platform games where control is critical. You will hear no complaints from this gamer on the controls.
It was amazing to me how different the majority of levels were from one another. It seemed like no two levels were even remotely similar. There were levels focused on swimming, water-skiing, sliding down mountains, and climbing huge spider webs. Sure, there was some crossover between the things you do on levels but I could not wait for a new level just to see what I would encounter next. Some of the levels are a little frustrating (the level that has you sliding down a hill with very hard to see semi-transparent obstacles in the way comes immediately to mind) but the challenges never get to the point of not wanting to play any longer.
The last thing that I want to mention on the positive side of the game is all of the different characters and enemies who will cross your path. They did a great job of creating the characters in this game. One level has you battling robot pirates while another has you fighting a giant spider. There are plenty of other enemies, like the Zombie Chickens, that I can't even describe. You have plenty of friends who like to help you out as well. You will literally save the whales (at least one anyway). Then there is sssssam, a serpent that takes you water-skiing across marshes. These are only the tip of the iceberg. You'll just have to play and find the rest of the characters on your own.
I did have a pretty major complaint with the game though. If you have ever read my reviews on 3D platform games, what is the one thing that I always complain about? If you guessed camera, you win! As per usual, the camera can be a real pain in the backside. It seems like the places where you need the best camera control were the places where the annoying buzzer would sound, signaling that you can't change your camera. With precision jumps and shots needed, a troublesome camera adds difficulty to tasks that should not be terribly difficult, which adds a bit of frustration. There are worse games out there but this one is not perfect either.
I had a couple of other minor complaints as well. First, you can't bypass the little cut-scene stories. Cut-scenes get old to me after playing a game for a while so I prefer to skip them. Too bad, no can do. Also, there were times where I would try and jump in the water and I would just die while other times, I could swim. Most of the places that you could not swim were marked so if I did not see anything telling me not to swim, I would try and die. Finally, I just really hated the fact that the characters spoke gibberish. I know that the game is limited in space and voice clips take up a lot of room but come on, I would rather have nothing than squeaks that make no sense at all.
Wow. I am impressed. I have bad-mouthed the N64 graphics on most reviews but I will have to give some credit where credit is due. I played in High Resolution and this game is one of the best looking N64 games I have seen. The lighting effects, water and atmosphere are just beautifully done. I have seen this game on the PC with a Voodoo3 graphics card and while the N64 version does not have that quality, it comes close. If more N64 games could look like this, the system may actually be worth owning again.
I really enjoyed this game and think everyone else will too. If you can get past the occasionally frustrating camera angles, you will be in for a huge adventure full of surprises and fun. You will never know what to expect next. The graphics rival the best on the system and the gameplay is always exhilarating. Well worth the purchase price.