Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Game Review: Rayman Raving Rabbids 2

If I hadn't gotten a Wii at launch I can't imagine I would have ever bought the first Rayman Raving Rabbids game. But at the time there wasn't much out and I had to have something to play with my friends. That game was a mixed bag with a few good minigames but a seriously broken multiplayer component. The game was good for laughs but not much else, and I sold it as soon as I had a couple of newer games (WarioWare, Mario Party) that filled the party game requirement in my apartment.

So does the sequel have more staying power than the original? Hit the jump for our full review.

The Structure
Rabbids 2 ditches the overly restrictive story mode from the first game and lets you pick one of six "trips," each loosely representing a different region of the world. You can do these trips either alone or in a group, an improvement over the original which required you to unlock the minigames in single player mode before they became available in multiplayer.

Also available is the option to string as many of your favorite games as you'd like together to make custom trips, which is really important because...

The Games
...there are some really bad minigames in the mix. Far too many of them rely on the "shake the Wiimote as fast as you can" mechanic, which gets really old really really fast. There are other complete duds, like the chess game which requires you to hold your hands to your temples as if you're concentrating really hard. I get it, it's a joke, chess is hard and rabbids are dumb so this is how they play it, but that doesn't make it a minigame you're going to want to play more than once.

Another blemish on the game's record are the on-rail shooting levels. These were the best part of the original game, but they flop here. The big change is that instead of a fully 3D environment the levels are based around full motion video shot on location in New York, Paris, etc. It's actually a well done, nice looking effect, but it makes the game much more static than the original. The environments don't have any of the dynamism they had in the first game, and the rabbids actions are much more limited because they can't actually interact with their surroundings. It comes off less like an energetic shooter and more like an old shooting gallery game (think Lethal Enforcers.) Add to the equation that there is a significant lag between your trigger pull and the gun firing and you're left with a game so tedious you'll be wishing it would just end. Thankfully these levels are separated from the main game, so you don't really ever have to play them (but we both know you will anyway, you completist.)

These bad games don't matter much in the long run, however, because once you make a custom trip with your favorites you'll never have to see them again. And for ever dud in the game there is a real star. Among the best:
  • A volleyball game which is easy to lose hours to with friends once you get over some slightly unintuitive mechanics
  • A bumper car game that takes place on top of a skyscraper and brings back happy memories of one of my all-time favorite minigames, Super Monkey Ball's "Monkey Fight"
  • A movie theater game in which you raise the Wiimote to your head like a phone (complete with Rabbid gibberish via the speaker) until the theater manager walks in and turns on the lights, at which point you have to lower your phone before he catches you and press buttons as quickly as you can to send text messages to the other players, causing their phones to vibrate which gets them in trouble with the manager.
The theater game will fill you with more glee than you might be able to handle.

The Tech-uality
One of the bigger disappointments of this game is that the graphics are really sub-par. We've seen much better out of not only the Wii, but the GameCube and even the PS2. Hopefully Nintendo has schooled everyone with Mario Galaxy and third parties will put more effort into future games to try to reach that bar.

The Rest

Realizing no one cares a flying flip about the "Ugliest and Most Uncompelling Gaming Mascot of All Time Award" winner Rayman, they took him off the cover and made the Rabbids playable. And not only playable but fully customizable, from their heads down to their toes. There's also a jukebox where you can listen to unlocked songs, which is a feature that pops up in a lot of games and I can't help but ask why do developers think we care about this shit?

The Verdict

Despite it's shortcomings, I remain very positive about this game. The bad minis are disappointing, but there are enough good ones to construct a custom trip that will keep you and three friends entertained and laughing for hours. And since that's all I could ask for out of a party game, I place Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 above every other party game on the Wii with the exception of Wii Sports, if you even include that in the category.

THREE out of FOUR stars!

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