Preview: Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc

Who'd thought it? Who would have ever dreamt that a limbless abnormality would ever become a gaming hero? A Hero that, in fact, got a huge following, selling over 10 million copies world wide and getting numerous awards? Well, in the crazy world of central Europe, anything can happen, and back in 1995 it did. Rayman was possibly the last good side scrolling platformer released beyond the 16 bit era, and after the genre died, it seemed there was no way out for the little man apart from hanging up his magical arms for good.Jump forward 7 years and we are getting closer by the day to the release date of the gaming superstars first next - gen game, and Rayman 3 - Hoodlum Havoc looks to be best yet. The worlds look to be in full 3D, whilst keeping with the legacy of the game From early screen shots and play tests, it looks like an update of the 3 dimensional Rayman 2, whilst taking all of its downfalls into account and improving them. Graphics have never been a big point for hardcore platformers, but for those on the borderline you will be swayed by Hoodlum Havocs stunning visuals, which will wow most of those questioning themselves on whether to splash out on the game.

Tactical gamers will also love the new fighting technique that the game uses. The game features 20 different enemies, including the Hoodlum and Dark Lums, and all force the player to use different strategies to defeat them, which will hopefully draw away from the mindless button bashing and focus more on individual skill. The game will feature many brand new game elements, i'ts action adventure format will be familiar to many fans but advanced combat will form the heart of this latest installment. Rayman will have new movements and powers including, The Power Fist, Grapple and Super Helicopter. The new Tactical Arcade Combat System will ensure players use their brains, as each enemy has specific strengths and combat strategies, and will only be defeated by the correct fighting techniques

Where as most game series's tend to get easier and shorter, Rayman shows no sign of stopping its insanely high level of which it expects you to perform. Pre-plays suggest that it isn't a touch on the astronomical level difficulty of Rayman 2, but, thankfully, it seems as if the game will still push you to the limits of your ability, and add a lot of play time into the mix in doing so.

The wealth of power ups that are bound to feature in the game will warm the hearts of old fans, and probably urge old fans to whip out past consoles and give the game a quick whirl. If all that wasn't enough for you to consider getting the game, Ubi Soft announced that the game is going to include some 'comedy' - hopefully more adult like 'Conker's Bad Fur Day' and not so childish, that would be a treat, but considering the legless wonder is considered a family title - he has, after all, had educational games made about him - I doubt that this dream becomes reality.

From what I can see, no story line has been announced by Ubi Soft, but they promise it to be the most enthralling yet. With a March 2003 release date touted by Ubi Soft, we can pray that, by early summer next year, Rayman will join the likes of Mario, Sonic and Link and jump, punch and hover himself into gaming history.

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