E3 06: Rayman Raving Rabbids Impressions and Info

Michel Ancel's latest action game starring the quirky, disjointed hero isn't exactly at E3, but a new trailer is. Sort of. We get the first hard details.

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LOS ANGELES--After dabbling with journalistic heroines and gigantic apes, famed Ubisoft designer Michel Ancel is getting back to his roots with a new Rayman game titled Raving Rabbids. The game was alas not present at Ubisoft's E3 booth, but we did find an extended version of the trailer shown at Nintendo's press conference on Tuesday, and we also managed to glean a raft of information about how the game will play. In Raving Rabbids, a group--scratch that, a horde--of crazy bunnies have taken over the land, and of course only Rayman can stop them from wreaking havoc and put things back to order.

For starters, Raving Rabbids will be a much more open world than past Rayman games, the levels of which were always pretty constrained and linear. This time around, there will be around 10 worlds that you can roam freely through, and your travel will be made even easier by six animals that you'll be able to ride. The catch is that before you can ride them, you'll have to fight them and tame them. During the trailer we caught brief glimpses of a giant spider, which Rayman can use to walk on walls and ceilings, and an eagle, which naturally will let him take flight. We also heard about a shark that will of course be useful for aquatic travel later in the game.

If you saw Tuesday's footage of Raving Rabbids, you might be wondering what's up with all those wacky costume changes. As it turns out, the multitude of available outfits will form the core of the gameplay here, as each outfit Rayman collects (including stuff like a disco outfit and a clown suit) will give him unique special abilities and also allow him access to previously locked areas. For instance, a Ubi rep described an area full of burly, boxing bunnies who might only allow Rayman to pass when they see him strutting in the disco costume. Perhaps more importantly, different costumes will allow Rayman to dance in different ways, and apparently the rabbids will really get into the act when you use the right dance, since you'll be able to use your suave moves to hypnotize them, which will keep them from attacking you. Finally, you'll be able to customize costumes at some point in the game by mixing and matching different pieces.

In the trailer, we saw one rabbid, then several more, then hundreds popping up out of the ground, and if you haven't seen these bizarre bunnies yet, you should really look at the video. Behind the horde of rabbids rose a massive, rabbid-shaped tower with a gigantic red eye. The eye then emitted a laser that decimated the idyllic green hills, reducing them to rubble and ruin. Of course, Rayman appeared like a shining beacon of justice on a high cliff and descended into the throng to alternately beat up or dance with the bunnies in his fight for justice.

The core of Raving Rabbids' design will be consistent across all platforms the game will appear on, though we had to ask how the Wii version will differ, since Nintendo showed footage of the game being played with a Wii controller at its conference. The controls of Raving Rabbids will in fact be heavily adapted to the motion-sensing feature, and it will also contain some extra dancing and racing minigames that will take full advantage of the controller. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game will of course feature high-res art assets befitting their advanced hardware, though there was no word on whether the PS3 game would feature the same controls as the Wii version. Ubi says Raving Rabbids will be offered in playable form for the first time later this summer, so we'll look forward to giving it a try and bringing you our impressions at that time.

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