Rayman Raving Rabbids 2ESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer – Ubisoft France
Publisher – Ubisoft
Wii-remote and Nunchuck compatible
While attending E3 in Santa Monica in July 2007 I had the chance to play the sequel to Raving Rabbids, aptly titled Rayman Raving Rabbids 2. I enjoyed playing some of the early mini-games and I thought to myself that this sequel could once again provide some great gaming on the Wii. However, what I forgot was that there are a lot of mini-game compilations out there already and that the developers would have to really do something special in this genre. Now that Raving Rabbids 2 has been released, and after playing through much of my review copy, I think that although it is not a bad game I don’t think it provides enough great moments and it may not have what it takes for fully get noticed this time around.
Compared with the original game, Raving Rabbids 2 has definitely taken a different visual approach. There are still the regular mini-games where the developers have designed and rendered their own backgrounds for each level and area that they take place. The game manages to maintain the style and artistic approach that the original had. Each level is bright and vibrant and manages to match the theme of each ‘trip’ that you are on. On top of this is the original Rabbids that were so well designed in the first game, which themselves have their own style to them that really makes the game further stand out. These graphics alone allow for the game to be quite original.
Where the game takes a very different approach then the previous version is in the on-rail shooting segments that make up some of the game. Here the visuals take a more realistic look as the backdrops are photo renditions of real-life areas from all round the globe. You will find yourself shooting Rabbids in such areas as New York, Tokyo and even Paris. Ubisoft France actually went to these locations and filmed the settings and then went back into the studio and rendered the Rabbids and gaming stuff on top of them. The transition between the real and virtual world is incredibly well done. There is even small attention to details that make for an even more seamless experience. For example, when shooting at targets in New York under a bridge, plungers will actually splash into the water if you miss a target.
Technically speaking, the game does run in 480p, but I would argue that the game does not run in a true widescreen format. I reviewed my copy of Raving Rabbids 2 on a 42-inch Sharp Aquos with component cables. I had small black bars down the side of the screen. Now this is not true widescreen, and I know that there is nothing wrong with my display as Mario Galaxy filled it to the max. I don’t know why the small bars did come down the side, but they were there. I also found that this game could have benefited from a machine with better resolution. I don’t know if this is the developers fault, or the hardware, but it just wasn’t as clean as other console games out there, even those on the Wii. Bottom-line, this game is artistic and stylish, it is just that there are some rough edges so to speak that don’t allow it to be all that it can be.
The sound in Raving Rabbids 2 is good, but is nothing spectacular. Actually, the more I think about the more I would have to say that nothing really stands out. The Rabbid’s bunny speak is used very frequently and can get a little annoying now and then, but it can add to the overall charm of the game given how these crazy rabbits look and act. As for the music, I really can’t think of it at this time, which makes me realize that it is uninspiring and doesn’t make that much of a difference in the game. I am somewhat concerned with this as the harder I really think the more I realize how it doesn’t influence the gameplay experience, and this is not a good thing I can tell you that. As for the rest of the sound effects, they manage to convey the on-screen action quite well, from the sounds of New York traffic to the sounds of your plunger sticking onto any object in the level you are trying to clear. Overall the audio is competent; just don’t expect it to really hit you.
Raving Rabbids 2 does have a single player story. After their efforts to take over Rayman’s world was thwarted in the previous game the Rabbids have set their sights on Earth. They have invaded our planet and set up a headquarters at, of all places, a shopping mall. While on earth they are traveling all over the globe in an effort to study human behavior as they prepare for a massive global invasion. It is up to you, as Rayman, to infiltrate the Rabbid’s base in disguise in an effort to once again stop them from carrying out their dastardly plan.
Something new to the sequel, which has been left out from the original, is the lack of the stadium based setup where you started each mini-game from. Rayman no longer needs to travel in and out of a coliseum in order to make his way through the story. I found that this allowed the game to flow somewhat better as having to go back and forth to a coliseum really took me out of the game. Having the central set up the way it is, in a shopping mall where the Rabbids have set up their HQ, really does speed up the single player offering.
I have to say right off the get-go that the attraction of this sequel is very much the same what was attractive in the original; the comedy of the Rabbids themselves. As you venture to each level with the various mini-games Ubisoft has added brief cut-scenes that play in real time. Such classic scenes as chasing down a bunny Spider-man or getting ready for a good old western showdown are just two examples of what Ubisoft France has done to spice up this game. The quality and comedy of all these cut-scenes, even though brief, really add more charm and atmosphere to all the levels you play. You will find yourself wanting to venture through the game just to see what hilarity may be just around the corner.
The single player offering in Raving Rabbids 2 does offer one a chance to play through the 50 or so mini-games that are offered. I found that they gave me a chance to see what is available and practice my Wii-remote and nunchuck skills. Some of the games are a hoot, such as the Rockband knock off using the Wii-remote and nunchuk, but some of them are kind of blah too, such as spitting into the beverages of Rabbids sitting at a bar. The downfall in playing the single player is that playing against the AI, or in levels where is it is just you, can get monotonous. Sure, there is some incentive to play these levels over as you can unlock special outfits for both Rabbids and Rayman alike. I have to admit that I thought the Assassin’s Creed outfit that the Rabbids can wear was pretty cool, and timely too given that the game was recently released. There is also the ability to post your high scores on a leaderboard over the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. Although some of the costumes are pretty funny playing over and over by myself got old quickly. There was only so many times that I wanted to actually try to beat a high score on my own. I really think that playing Raving Rabbids 2 by oneself can get somewhat boring pretty fast.
Where this game really shines is in the multiplayer arena. Get a few friends together and the mini-games can take on a whole new aspect. Playing with one to three more people can get quite crazy. It adds a competitive aspect to the game that is not present in the single player mode. Some of the games in the single player mode actually become a different experience. An example of this is a game where you have to deliver sandwiches to your customer. In the single player game you only have to deliver the sandwiches by yourself. When playing against other people however the challenge is not only to get the sandwich to your customer, but now you have more players to deal with. If you are not careful your opponent can knock that sandwich off your tray. Playing with real people does add more fun to this game and I found that the games I played with friends were quite enjoyable.
If there is any real negative in the game it is that the mini-games don’t have as much complexity or depth when compared to those of the original title. I can’t explain why, but maybe it has to do with getting an even wider audience (e.g. more casual and new gamers) to come and play this game. You will find that a lot of the mini-games really are somewhat, for a lack of a better word, dumbed down to the point where there is really only a lot of Wii-remote shaking going on. This is opposed to the original where you had to utilize the Wii-remote and nunchuk combination a lot more. In some ways I miss the deeper and more involved mini-games, but that being said I can have neighbors over and they can pick up a Wii-remote and get into the game right away. It is a trade off I guess and something that had to be done to get even more people into the videogaming craze.
Overall this game will satisfy that need to have your non-gaming friends over for some drinks and multiplayer madness. The game is simple and will allow for lots of competitive matches and laughs. For those not of the legal drinking age, I am sure that you may enjoy this game in short bursts with your non-legal drinking age friends too.
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