Rayman 2 Hands-On

We recently got our hands on a preview version of Ubi Soft's mascot platform game. But is it as good as the early preview made it out to be? Check out inside.

We recently got our hands on a complete build of Rayman 2 for the PlayStation, and I was lucky enough to spend some time with it. While it's safe to say that the game doesn't compare, graphically, with the N64 and Dreamcast versions, it does valiantly hold its own when compared with games within the platform.

The world Rayman inhabits is vibrantly rendered, possessing all manner of minute, animated details that imbue it with the appearance of teeming life. Puddles ripple as Rayman steps through them; giant, flying insects flit through stages; and there are environmental and lighting effects aplenty. The actual characters are wonderfully animated, bearing endearing countenances and displaying an expressive level of body language. The Teenies - a group of high-strung, flighty insects that Rayman rescues early on in the game -in particular, were highly amusing.

Rayman 2's control scheme is immensely tight, responsive, and versatile. While the default configuration -D-pad and analog stick for movement/buttons for actions - works very well, it's quite possible to maneuver Rayman by means of both analog sticks. In said configuration, the left stick moves Rayman, while nudging the right stick in any direction will cause him to shoot his fist beams. Using the right analog stick's button function (as you would in Ape Escape) lets Rayman jump and activates his ear propellers. The shoulder buttons are assigned the camera functions, which allow all the requisite shifting of perspective. Also present is an auto-centering feature, which realigns the camera behind Rayman--a vital feature for any 3D platform/adventure, to be sure. My only complaint with the camera is that it doesn't allow you to peer up or down, leaving you in the hands of fate when it comes to determining the height or depth of the game's many obstacles.

The game's first stage is a delicate combination of platform-jumping, and light combat. Probably intended to showcase the engine's graphical prowess, the first stage proves not-too-difficult, with fairly straightforward objectives that are easily achieved. The second stage, while not that difficult either, introduces combat, which is handled quite well by the game's control scheme. Essentially, Rayman will engage in firefights with the game's myriad baddies, and the use of the R2 button will allow him to strafe around them, in a manner not dissimilar to Shadow Man's strafe-mode. The function works really well, and, despite the sheer ease in which the enemies early on where dispatched, one could imagine things getting much more interesting and challenging later on in the game.

From the little I've seen, Rayman 2 seems to be an intricately detailed, immensely playable game. The graphical presentation showcases damn near the best the PlayStation is capable of, and the game-mechanics are both functional, and easy to get the hang of. The port to a "weaker" platform hasn't done much to slow this game down--adventure and platform fans will do well to keep an eye on this one. Stay tuned for our full review very soon.

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