|Publisher: Feral Interactive Genre: Arcade|
|Min OS X: 10.1.3 CPU: G3 @ 500 MHz RAM: 128 MB|
French publishers Ubi Soft began the Rayman series a decade ago on the ill-fated Atari Jaguar. Since then the series has made its way to virtually every platform. Raymanís third outing was launched early last year across all three major consoles and the PC and has recently arrived on our platform of choice thanks to porting house Zonic and publisher Feral Interactive.
GraphicsFor a title that is nearly a year old, Rayman 3 is still quite a stunning game to look at. While this isnít a game that redefines the idea of graphic excellence, each element is so well executed and the design so consistent that the artists have created a game that looks almost as good as the latest animated feature film. There is a distinct style running right through the game stretching from the level architecture to the objects, characters and the texture maps. Stylized and peculiarly angled environments are wrapped in high resolution texture maps that could easily be lifted straight from a Disney film.
Lighting is quite special due not to its strength but its subtlety, no longer are objects wholly drenched in red by nearby lava or green by toxic waste, instead the exposed areas are realistically highlighted. Water is also excellent, rippling and reacting to objects within it realistically. Coronas, particle effects and sprite foliage are all present and correct and help to enforce the illusion that you are in a cartoon.
Rayman, a.k.a the limb-less wonder, is still a refreshing change from the animals and stylized humans populating most other platform games and looks better than ever with a highly detailed model and textures. His animation is also smooth and distinctive, unsurprising due to his unique limbless physique. Supporting characters could be accused of being graphically bland, especially the giant Globox who accompanies Rayman throughout most of the game but they are amazingly expressive and original. No other game has an ultimate bad guy who is little more than a ball of black fluff with eyes, arms and a mouth. Nor would said bad guy spend virtually the entire game inside the stomach of a gentle blue and white giant. Standard cannon fodder enemies arenít bad but after a while their hooded gun-toting forms become boring, the smaller guys who fly via helicopter rotors attached to their backs are almost too small to appreciate given the rather hectic nature of their arrival. The bosses are more interesting to look at, from the shambling giants with shoulder mounted cannons to the red frocked Hooded Hunter, they exude far more style than the brown or red hoodlums and their brown flying sidekicks. They have more personality expressed in their animation and features and are just generally more pleasing on the eye, they also get more chance to be seen too, but that is a different story.
R3ís artists havenít tried to achieve photo-realism but instead capture the essence of good cartoon animation with vivid and vibrant colors and consistent design. Their efforts have been very successful.
SoundRayman has been graced with excellent if not nigh-brilliant spot effects in his previous outings and some of the environmental audio in this title is quite special, the computer of hoodlum headquarters telling the current temperature in the foundry, Knaren growling, sand steaming etc. the list is endless. Some of the more standard spot effects are perfunctory the fist, gunshot and crystal collecting sounds are all standard fare. Itís the dialog that is the aural highlight, each of the major characters are given full voice-overs that perfectly match their image, admittedly some are very stereotyped, for example the long haired doctor (who plays guitar) has a typical all-American surfer dude accent. The performances are expressive and humorous, helped by the witty and sharp script that is far more entertaining than anything youíd expect of such a derivative platform game for kids daft as it is. As for music, it generally makes little impact as it spends much of the time in a soft understated tension building mode, before leaping into a more intense rhythmic beat during high-octane action. Generally itís forgettable but it isnít grating and so is definitely appreciated.