"Might Need a Leg to Stand On"
In a recent interview regarding last year's gorgeous Rayman Origins, Michael Ancel, creator and mastermind behind the entire Rayman franchise, describes his approach to developing the latest game after moving away from the series for so long. He likened revisiting the neglected hero as reuniting with an old friend. There is excitement as you catch up and reminisce, but you eventually find that both of you have changed quite a bit during that time apart. As such, it is imperative to see how you can best progress, grow, and evolve together.
Whereas Rayman Origins could be seen as reinventing the Rayman wheel, adopting crisp visuals and tight platforming gameplay, as well as adapting to modern tastes, playing Rayman 3: Hodlum Havoc HD is like getting the chance to test out that original model and see what worked (or did not work) so well in the first place.
If you have played the original release, this XBLA/PSN digitally downloadable re-release should be instantly familiar. Do not expect a comprehensive overhaul of the original. Offering little more than a facelift featuring cleaner textures and vibrant colors, Rayman 3 HD is a strict high-definition update to the nine-year-old platformer. It is best to temper expectations going in.
As the third major installment and final entry to the classic 3D Rayman games, Hoodlum Havoc refines the great groundwork provided by its predecessors. The story remains the same as its progenitor. As Rayman, you are out to foil an evil lum and his army, the titular "Hoodlums", from conquering the world. It sports a relatively darker tone, while still including some surprisingly time-tested humor. It is recommended that you keep subtitles on, as you will have to contend with inconsistent sound issues throughout.
As the game's contents have not been altered in any significant way, any of the game's many highlights and, likewise, unfortunate problems that existed in the original are still present here. As such, the game certainly has smoother textures and, in addition to some nicer visuals, in-game animation has been given a fine upgrade, with a swift frame-rate permeating throughout. Conversely, the game was not totally rebuilt from the ground up using today's technologies. Expect some visuals to be noticeably blocky or pixelated and the cutscenes to be a bit choppy.
Basic gameplay mechanics include jumping and gliding for platforming, and grappling and chargeable punching for combat. Similar to Origins, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc features Rayman acquiring useful various power-ups in order to progress. Rayman is able to change into a diverse set of outfits that alter his abilities and, in true classic gameplay, these time-limited powers play into solving the many puzzles throughout the game's nine different areas. These temporary costumes provide Rayman with one of the following skills: whirlwind-punches replace standard ones; giant metal fists offer extra strength to fell enemies in one hit or open up otherwise inaccessible areas; extendable grappling claws can be used to harm enemies or traverse the environment; short-ranged remote-control-guided missiles pack a powerful punch; and a helicopter hat offers limited vertical flight.
While the varied gameplay and characters in Rayman 3 HD are as entertaining as they have ever been, the camera continues to be just as troublesome (walls often obscure your vision, hiding important parts of the level's layout). This, of course, has a discernibly negative effect on the gameplay. Glitches like randomly falling through the floor and suspect hit detection further exacerbate the frustration. As you progress, you can unlock standalone mini-games to enjoy outside of the main campaign. Interestingly, these were not given the same high-definition upgrade that the main game was.
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc HD provides pretty updated visuals, but in spite of that, the nagging camera and control issues show the game's true age. It may not be the best entry in the limbless hero's extensive library of adventures, but it is a fine look at how the series has evolved.
GameDynamo's Score for Rayman 3 HD (PS3)
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