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Rayman 2: Revolution
Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in the various versions of Rayman 2 have always been lush, and Rayman 2: Revolution is no different. Each level of the game pops with tons of different colours, more than most platformers have in their entire repertoire. The forests are lush, the bays cool and blue, and the caves dank -- in a lively sort of way.

Unfortunately, this graphical prowess seems to come at a price -- the game chugs frighteningly often on the PS2. Perhaps the developers did not have time to optimize the rendering engine. Whatever the case, there are a few areas in each level where the frame rate will start to drop, but it's only a relatively minor inconvenience. The unique Rayman style shines through it all.

That continues with the sound in the game, from the tribal beats of the music to the voice acting. I highly recommend putting the voice acting on 'Raymanian' -- that is the way it was meant to be. The English voice acting is certainly passable, mind you, but when you're dealing with such an alien world it helps to distance yourself as far from possible from it. The English voice acting is straight from the subtitles, anyway. You do have to do that every time you start the game, though, which is somewhat annoying.

Fortunately, R2R is anything but annoying. Fun? Yes. Entertaining? Yes. Frustratingly challenging? At times, absolutely. But it's got the proper mix of 'just one more' playability and a silly plot that nonetheless will have you keep playing. Despite some issues with the overworld map, at its heart Rayman 2: Revolution is the same game we all loved when it originally came out.

Therein, of course, is the game's main fault -- despite the additions to this PS2 version, R2R is really still just Rayman 2. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's hard to justify picking up a new version of a game you've already beaten on another console.

For those of you who have never played Rayman 2, a simple description is in order. Pirates are taking over Rayman's world, and it's up to you to help him save it. Of course, all of his friends have been kidnapped, and you've got to save them. The game itself lies somewhere between Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot in its linearity -- the maps themselves are relatively free-roaming, but there's a definite order as to how you complete them.

Rayman starts out with few of his normal powers -- he cannot grab rings, his fists are weak, and so on. As you progress in the plot, you pick up all of these and more. Oftentimes the skills that you gain are necessary to fully complete a level that you've already gone through, which means that backtracking is rarely necessary but highly encouraged nonetheless.

There are some enhancements to the formula from the original computer version to this PS2 version. There are some added challenges and levels -- for example, after saving three guys in cages, you can go to a rollercoaster level. The overworld map has been replaced by an actual exploratory world, a la Spyro. This is both a blessing and a curse, unfortunately -- some of the largest amounts of slowdown in the game appear in these overworld maps. And instead of having some handy-but-unnecessary skills for Rayman from the start, you buy them with Lums that you collect throughout the game. This sort of upgrade method is a Good Thing, but it still feels a little tacked-on. It's still quite a bit of fun, though, especially once you finally get Reflect.

There are quite a few challenging sequences in Rayman 2 -- the various chase/speed scenes can be frustrating until you've memorized the layouts. And a few of the platforming sections are frustratingly difficult. But the game is entertaining enough to keep you playing despite these challenges, and I found myself playing at 3:00am in order to just get past 'one more area'. As always in this sort of game, perseverence is key. The game does some basic auto-targeting for you, and you can actaully lock onto enemies to make firing on them easier. Use this to your advantage.

Game Mechanics:
The basic controls of Rayman 2: Revolution are simple enough to pick up. The face buttons are used for jumping and firing, and the shoulder buttons are used for moving the camera and locking on. Anyone who's played any 3D adventure games should be at home with the control scheme in a matter of seconds.

Unfortunately, a few of the add-ons for the Playstation 2 come off as unfinished. For example, I found many locations in the overworld that I could jump off into the nothingness -- and I'm not talking about cliffs, but areas over walls that are supposedly impassable. The game also chugs quite a bit in these areas. And the addition of the various types of voice-acting is quite nice, but the game doesn't manage to remember those settings between games. A simple 'config save' on the PS2 memory card would have been nice.

Despite these relatively minor gripes, Rayman 2: Revolution is a highly enjoyable romp through the crazy world of our favourite limbless hero. Despite the enhancements, chances are great that if you already own a copy of Rayman 2 there's not enough here to warrant a purchase. But anyone who doesn't yet have at least one version of one of the best platformers in recent history would do well to pick this game up. There are hours of fun here, just waiting to be delved into.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

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