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6  |  Rayman Arena PC: Cheap for a Reason
basscomm , 6/10/2003 8:36:35 AM
When you're out shopping for cheap games, you can't judge a game by anything that's on it's box. You have to go into the transaction knowing the game will, in all likelyhood, be a sad attempt at entertainment. The product you will be purchasing may only be an idea of a game. Sometimes, the concept is good, but the game gets in the way. Regardless, playing cheapies is what I like.

Rayman. Wow. I don't even know where to begin. My only experience with the Rayman franchise is on the demo disc that came with my Dreamcast. From that experience, I thought that the series could do at least one thing well: look really good.

The Good

Rayman Arena has been or will be released for just about every modern console on the planet. All the different versions, I imagine, are pretty close to the same, but I'm not going to compare them. I'd have to buy them all, or at the very least rent them all, and that's not on the agenda. I checked it twice to be sure.

Rayman Arena plays as a pretty solid game. There are two modes to choose from: Race and Battle. In Race mode, you take control of one of the trademarked characters from the Rayman 2 universe and run around a track. The first to make 3 laps wins. Easy. I only played the first 3 race stages. By myself. The races themselves are nicely done. I enjoyed playing the stages on practice mode, but got spanked when I tried to play against the computer. Battle mode is a little different. It's 1v1 (or 1v1v1 [or 1v1v1v1]) with one of 3 goals: Grab the shiny thing (Lums), Beat Each Other Senseless, and Hold on to the Shiny Thing for as Long as Possible. Grab the Shiny Thing is pretty straightforward. The only weapon you get is the ice...something. It freezes your enemies in place for a few seconds. It's borderline fun. Beat Each Other Senseless is a little more action oriented. Don't go into the match expecting Unreal Tournament Deathmatch, and you won't be horribly disappointed. Each of the players gets 5 'life points.' Knock off all 5 of them and you get a point. 5 points wins. There's weapons all over the place, but you won't know what they are until you actually pick them up, so you will have a hard time staying away from the lamer items. I got bored before I played HOTTSTFALAP, so here's a picture of me waking up at a LAN party.

Rayman Arena PC looks pretty decent. The game has modest enough system requirements that it will run well on a lot of computers. I poked around the menus for several minutes and couldn't find a place to jack up the level of detail in the game. But as it is, it didn't make my eyes run away in terror, so it's acceptable.
The box for the game claims that it supports LAN play, but I couldn't convince anyone else to get a copy, so I'll just have to take the box's word for it.

The Not So Good
Rayman Arena has an inconsistant control setup. why the designers decided that there should be one control scheme for Race and another for Battle is beyond me. I get used to one scheme, and then have to switch it up for the other mode. The designers were gracious enough to let you configure the controls to your liking, but using the mouse+keyboard combo, I couldn't get them both to the same.

Rayman Arena also comes on two discs. No big deal, right? The copy-protection method, however introduces a whole host of headaches. Well, really just one. When you start the game, it does the obligatory CD check. But here's the fun part: you have to put in both CDs. You can reduce this annoyance by putting the second CD in a second drive, but if you don't have one... well, just get used to switching them out.

The Verdict

Overall, this game is not too bad. I'm sure if you had some friends with this game at a LAN party somewhere, it'd be a great way to pass a few minutes. I've played worse games. For that matter, I own worse games.

Grade: 6 out of 10. This game would be a world better with a unified control shceme and without that annoying CD check.

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