Rayman 2: The Great Escapes Review
For the past two years, the Playstation's two pinnacle adventure games were always Ape Escape and Crash Warped. Ape Escape blended the most unique gaming experience with far above average graphics and great voice acting. Crash Warped blended exciting gameplay, luscious visuals, and very high replay points. For the couple of years, no adventure game has been able to stand up to those standards of Ape Escape and Crash Warped. Until last year when Ubi Soft finally released Rayman 2 on Nintendo 64, PC and then following the Dreamcast earlier this year. Of course the PC version was the best of the bunch, while the Dreamcast version trailed barely following the N64 version in last. All of the games pushed their respective hardware, both visually and sound wise. But with all this popularity surrounding Rayman 2, where is the Playstation version that Ubi Soft promised us? Thankfully Ubi Soft said that they were giving the project of Rayman 2 for Playstation to their headquarters in China. They quickly got to work and in a matter of weeks we began seeing the very first screens of this new game, along with info saying that Rayman 2 on PSX will be quite different than the other versions. As we waited for the end of the Summer, Rayman 2 is finally released to the public and we have got the review, see how Rayman 2 compares to its counterparts on DC, PC and N64.
Visually we all know that this is no Rayman 2 on Dreamcast or the PC, but the PS version can stand up to the Nintendo 64 version. The character detail has been greatly reduced when compared to the DC and PC version, but looking at it from the Playstation's perspective these graphics are truly hardware pushing visuals. The textures look incredibly good, they are overflowing with tremendous colors, and look superbly compressed on to the Playstation. Given the fact that the PS is technologically aging day by day, I am still surprised at the kind of quality that companies such as Ubi Soft give us in order to achieve sheer gaming bliss in everybody's mind. Rayman is a very, very complex character to design, because of his character attributes, a gaming machine needs a lot of RAM and a good floating point processor to make the correct calculations on how Rayman's movement will affect his feet and his arms moving on screen. Although the PS is generally lacking in those two fields, Ubi Soft was still able to achieve perfection with the movement in Rayman 2.
The frame rate when compared to the Dreamcast version is noticeably weaker, the PS version runs at a rate of 30 frames per second. If you are like me and have been playing the Dreamcast version of Rayman 2, then you will notice the gradual step down in the frame rate, but if not you have nothing to worry about. Some of the stages have also been reduced in terms of exploration, some stages instead of having three sections to explore, may have two. The backgrounds are very sweet and almost every stage has a different scenario to look at. The PS version of Rayman 2 may have lost some glitz, but Rayman 2's visuals are extremely detailed with superb texture compression, character detail, and a constant 30 FPS. If you look at Rayman 2's gameplay, I would be safe to say that the PS version has it best. Unlike the other versions, the PS version of Rayman 2 has 800 lums to collect which can either be a plus or minus, depending on how challenging you like your games. But on the other hand, the PS version has a completely new map board. Unlike the land that you walk around in the previous versions of Rayman 2, you select your stages in a dimensional distorted looking place. Some of the stages have been changed in their appearance, between the DC version and the PS version. Ubi Soft has made some changes to the stages so the PS has less problem creating them. Speaking of stages, Rayman 2 contains over 50 of them in over 20 different worlds, now how's that for replay value? Each of the stages contains a certain amount of lums and cages that need to be opened. In these cages will no longer be yellow lums, instead you will free a fairy that will increase your life bar at least 5%. Rayman must pick up lums that are scattered in every stage, red lums give restore health, green lums are checkpoints and yellow lums MUST be collected because they are what the game focuses on.
Surprisingly I find the Playstation version of Rayman 2 is more addictive than the DC or PC version, I have no logical information but for some reason I played more PS Rayman 2 than when I just got Rayman 2 for Dreamcast. A paradox or even ironic? Perhaps, although there is nothing ironic about Rayman 2 being one masterpiece of an adventure game, and is very well one of the best adventure games on the Playstation. Rayman 2 actually may be the last excellent adventure game that the Playstation will give us, but who knows.
What can I say about the sound? Other then the fact that it's probably perfect in every way. The Playstation version of Rayman 2 has exclusive voice acting for every single cut-scene in Rayman 2. The voice actors fit every role perfectly, Rayman's voice acting almost makes the whole game feel like a Disney cartoon being played right on your gaming console. The soundtrack of Rayman 2 brings the mysterious world to life, I really love the sound and I would have to admit this to being the best sound in an adventure game thus far.
The control in Rayman 2 is not a problem. Just like any great adventure game, Rayman 2 features sensitivity in the analog control as well incredible dual shock power. The right analog stick can be used to shoot the projectiles at an enemy or by pressing Square. L1 and R1 are used for camera angles and holding them will give you the first person look around view. Rayman 2 does have its fare share of screwy camera angles, but not too many though. There really isn't anything wrong with Rayman 2's control, it is very simple and quick to pick up.
Overall I would have to choose the Playstation version of Rayman 2 over the DC, PC and N64. The Playstation version also has two extra stages exclusive to the Sony version, along with the exclusive voice acting. The visuals are superb when compared to other PS games, the gameplay is on top there with Crash and Ape Escape, and the soundtrack is not to be take lightly. Rayman 2 is the one adventure game to get this year, if you love adventure games then by all means you have to get this one. In my honest opinion, Rayman 2 is the best version of the four, maybe not in the visual area, but when it comes down to it all, it barely edges out the DC and PC versions.