Ubi Soft
Ubi Soft
Racing/Battle
1-4
09.25.02

Rayman Arena


When you think of Rayman, you usually think of a Mario-esque platformer, right? Well not this time. In Rayman Arena, you race and battle against other characters in the Rayman universe, much like a Mario Party, so in a sense, you could call this Rayman Party.

Gameplay

There are two main modes of play in Rayman Arena; race and battle. The Race mode is broken down into 2 more modes; Obstacle Race and Time Attack. Obstacle racing is a three lap race around dangerous courses. Time Attack is essentially the same thing as Obstacle Race, except you and have the option to freeze your opponents, and as soon as you get 6 seconds ahead of them in the laps, you win. Pretty cool, considering some races can take forever.

Battle mode is broken down into 2 parts as well, total fight and freeze fight. I found Freeze fight the most fun of the two modes. Freeze fight finds you going around the course trying to collect more lums (Rayman's equivalent of coins or rings, which look like sparkling gems) than your opponents in a three minute time-span. They appear at random, so you never know where they will show up, adding to the frenzy. Collecting the lums gives you the ability to shoot freeze bullets, which are your only offensive in this mode, freezing an opponent for a few seconds.

The foot-racing mode, though, I found much better then the battle mode. If you've ever played Mad Dash Racing, the race mode is very similar to what you would find in that. The unique and detailed level design of Rayman Arena further adds to the fun factor. The controls are idiot-proof, if you can press up to run, and A to jump, that's basically all you need to know to pull of most of the tricks in the game. You can also throw things with the X button to hit targets that unlock various doors, barriers, etc, and you can swing from pink rings in the air like ala Tarzan to get ahead of your opponents, but that's basically all there is to it.

Every three races or so in single player mode also unlocks something, which adds some incentive to keep playing, though the majority of unlockables consist of just new skins for the characters. There is some variety in what you'll find yourself doing though, for instance, jumping over walls, climbing up nets, sliding on ice, and flying off of jumps. The camera angle in single player mode is flawless, but in multiplayer you may expierence slight problems if you are unfamiliar with a particular level. Most of the time it's not a problem in race mode, considering you are generaly running down straight-aways with just a few slight left and right turns, but be aware, there are snags in the camera. Sometimes your character has to run totally in an opposite direction to get the camera to focus where you want it to, and it works practically the same during Battle mode.

RA features play up to 4 players in multiplayer (I mean it IS a party game). The multiplayer mode is actually very fun, and is really what makes this game worthwile. Without it, this game would be nearly worthless, so if you don't plan on inviting friends over, you may want to reconsider RA. The single player in RA, while not terrible, is basically just a primer for the real multi-player that the game excells at. If you do, on the other hand, have friends that can play with you, RA is a very worthy purchase.

Graphics

The graphics look, well, like a Rayman game. What I mean by that is, everything runs very smooth, and the character animations are great. No slow down in the framerate, but for an Xbox game they could have made the graphics a little more crisp. Im not going to complain though, since the graphics do fit the game very well. The levels are filled with bright colors pallets, and flow with the atmosphere nicely. There are also some really nice lighting effects going on, and RA also features a nice raindrop effect that has been seen in many games lately, splashing very realistic raindrops on the screen to great effect.

Sound

The sound is exactly what you would expect from a game like Rayman Arena. Party music. The game doesn't take advantage of the custom soundtrack feature either, which is a let down. An interesting addition, which fits very well considering the genre, is RA's dynamic background music, which changes sporadically depending on who's in the lead, giving a little to the competitive nature of the game. And, as usual of a Rayman title, the sound effects and voice samples are well done.

Bottom Line:

Rayman Arena is a very simple game. There's not much complexity to it, like most party games, but if you are looking for fast-action, arcade-style gameplay to play with your friends, then Rayman Arena is certainly a worthy choice. If you are looking for a good single-player game however, it may be a good idea to wait for the next Rayman to come out.

-Steve Melanson




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