Rayman 3 HD review
Made2Game Rayman 3 HD HD review score: 4/10
Formats: PS3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Format Reviewed: PS3
Reviewer: James Bowden
I appreciate remakes and re-releases, honestly I do. There's nothing more satisfying than plundering an old title and finding ideas or concepts that are still amazing, little elements that make you think 'huh, why don't more modern games do that?' Shadow of the Colossus and Metal Gear Solid 3 being two prime examples.
Rayman 3 HD is satisfying for more the opposite reaction. 'I'm glad games don't do that anymore'. 'Did I really think that was good design back in 2003?' 'Did he just mention Spiderman 2?' Like your dad strolling around in his disco gear and trying to drum up a conversation about T.J. Hooker, Rayman 3 HD is a complete anachronism; one of the most dated and pointless HD re-releases ever been committed to code.
I believe there's a hero in all of us.
Rayman 3 HD's Tolstoy worrying yarn goes a little something like this - Black lums, small evil fairies, are appearing from everywhere and they want to rule the world. Why? Because they're evil, and that's what evil things want to do. To accomplish this they any life giving Red Lums they find into Black ones and turn into Western Sand People, rocking floor length cagoules and Stetson hats but thankfully without the hoarse donkey impressions, and set about messing up everything.
However during their attack on the fairies at the centre of the world their leader André is inexplicably swallowed by Rayman's friend Globox, the illegitimate love child of a Sarracenia pitcher plant, a toad, and some blue food colouring. Reacting to this turn of events you set about consulting the world's many doctors in an attempt to get the pesky dust mite out of Globox's gut. Because he's really annoying.
Cue a linear platformer. Originally released in 2003 Rayman 3 HD took a more linear approach to the genre than most of its contemporaries. You move forward, always forward, bouncing on platforms and eliminating those nefarious Hoodlums all in the name of forward motion. Yet it's here that the game's issues start.
Every group of enemies in Rayman 3 HD must be dispatched to move forward, this is because one enemy will drop the powerup essential for Rayman to progress. Previous titles involving the limbless wonder, and subsequent ones for that matter, would tool up our hero as he moves through the adventure, thus imbuing the player with a sense of growing power while later challenges can be tailored for their ever growing skill set.
Rayman 3 HD's twist of giving you an ability when you need it reads fine on paper but falls flat in practise. Rooms aren't so much a challenge as a fancy looking exercise in joining the dots. Kill him, him, and him, slurp some strength soda and bust that copy-pasted strength wall, glug the grab pop from behind that and use those grab rings to reach next area. Rinse and repeat with minor variation in powers used.
Don't tell me that Bob's still carrying that rocket power drink when he knows full well that Larry and the boys are going to try attacking Rayman from the air... He did as well, incoming missile! Perhaps we should remove the vending machine from the common room...
Now I'm not saying that I expect games, especially games of this ilk, to be realistic and believable but Rayman 3 HD's overbearing signposting and 'USE THIS NOW' powerup system feels overbearing and untrusting. It feels like a teacher slyly slipping you quotes when and as you need them for an English exam, as helpful as it is I don't feel like I'm the one doing the brain work here.
No matter how hard I try, it's the ones I love that will always pay.
Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if the combat was much cop, but in nine out of ten encounters it's about as appealing as a slap from a slimy kipper. Oh sure, after a few hours of play the more interesting foes show up asking you to feint directions of take out commanding foes before others, but it's rarely an exciting game to play. In most platformers this wouldn't be such a damning comment but Rayman 3 HD is so combat heavy that it really is. Also, slugs may be a slang term for bullets but the Hoodlums take the term unbelievably literally. Slowest, bullets, ever.
It is a pretty game though, with some impressive architecture and lovely scenery and the game even includes a random screenshot mode, letting you remember some of its more impressive environments. And while most the game's dialogue falls flat, especially nine years post relevance (honestly, Spiderman 2), some of its scenes embrace that wonderful French quirk. The doctors and their 'body music' are a highlight. Oh, and it's got a lovely selection of Rayman Origins concept art to remind you how far the franchise has come.
But ultimately Rayman 3 HD is old fashioned and largely boring stuff. Enter room, spam attack, strafe a bit, find item, use item, move onto the next room, do again. It's an unsatisfying and repetitive gameplay loop in which not even the jumping is appealing. Occasional interludes such as stomping a makeshift pair of stompy legs around and chasing a bounty hunter around his own lavish abode are entertaining, but even they often outstay their welcome. There's no sense of improvement, none of that power stacking of other Rayman games, none of the satisfying pizazz of rival platformers. Rayman 3 HD is just a game of context sensitive hoop jumping with the 'reward' of largely dated pop culture references and slightly prettier hoops to bounce through.
A mildly diverting history lesson, then, is the best box quote you'll get from this review. For all its limp ideas it's not a complete disaster, there's still some fun to be had here albeit joy with a heavy side dollop of sighs and wanton looks towards superior games. In truth Rayman 3 HD wouldn't be half as bad if the unwaveringly delightful Rayman Origins (read our Rayman Origins review here) hadn't been released at the tail end of last year - a title that displays the same universe as Rayman 3 HD but in an utterly charming light that can't help but show Rayman 3 HD up as the tired, rather joyless exercise it is.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a hankering to watch Spiderman 2...
Words by James Bowden (@Dalagonash)
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