IGN Preview of Rayman Raving Rabbids 2
Some of our favorite stages from Ubisoft's surprise Wii hit, Rayman Raving Rabbids, were those which employed on-rails shooting challenges. In our review of the title, we wrote that the linear, but fun creations could probably power an entire game. Well, Ubisoft hasn't gone quite that far, but it has invested more time and effort into the presentation of these selections for the official sequel, Rayman Raving Rabbids 2. The shooter stages are back and you'll still use the Wii remote to fire not-so-deadly plungers at the critters as they run, fly, dig, jump and swim through the environments. However, you'll be able to notice right off the bat that the locations in question look much more realistic. That's because they actually are real.
The shooter levels in the original Rabbids were inspired by and similar to many recognizable game franchises, from classics like Virtua Cop and House of the Dead to more recent entries like Ghost Squad, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and even Link's Crossbow Training. The concept is simple: the camera system is handled automatically, effortlessly guiding you through each stage with (hopefully) cinematic flair. All you have to do is point and shoot. The speed and accuracy of the Wii remote has proven to perfectly complement these types of games, and thus we're seeing more and more of them.
Rabbids 2 separates itself from the competition, however, with a highly unique visual path that harkens back to some full-motion video-powered arcade shooters. Does the name Mad Dog McCree ring a bell? Uh-huh. But you probably don't have fond memories, and understandably so. After all, the aged arcade effort utilized FMV backdrops in place of real-time graphics, but lacked the gameplay finesse to marry controls to visuals. McCree felt slow and static, not to mention unresponsive to the inputs from your arcade gun. Ubisoft's game, on the other hand, places you in real cities, including Japan, Paris and New York, all of them realized with full-motion video, and yet the shooting accuracy is much improved and the interactivity with the backdrops is much more comprehensive.
The Ubisoft team traveled to the aforementioned locations and filmed them with digital cameras. From what we can tell so far, careful attention was paid in creating a smooth, flowing stroll through each city. As you play, the camera will effortlessly roll you along sidewalks, through bushes, down parkways, through crowded city backdrops and even onto the beaches. While such a presentation might have seemed cheesy or even cheap a decade or more ago, it works in Rabbids for two reasons. The first is that using full-motion backdrops gives the impression of higher clarity graphics, even if that's not really the case. The second is that Ubisoft has taken the time to ensure that, while the backdrops are filmed, they are also very interactive. You will still be able to shoot at sign posts, knock over barrels, and more. To be sure, some objects have been rendered into the foregrounds or backgrounds for the sole purpose of adding a level of interactivity to the gunplay - er, plunger play.
So is the experience as fun as it was in the original game? Well, it certainly looks good and the potential is definitely there. The developer has really attempted to make the backdrops interactive, so in one minute you'll be shooting plungers are foreground bunnies as they dig out of the ground and in the next you might be fighting off the critters' submarine from a beachside vantage point. The only problem is that in the current build of the game, the framerate is slow and jumpy, two truths that detract from a smooth shooting experience. The studio promises, though, that the final product will run smoothly. As an aside, the game attempts to connect through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection after you complete some of the stages -- presumably to update your stats.
According to Ubisoft, Rabbids 2 will feature approximately five different on-rails shooter levels of this type - two set in Paris, one in New York, one in Japan, and the final a compilation of them all. You'll be able to unlock the shooter levels in the arcade as you progress through the other minis in the single-player mode. We've posted new videos showing portions of some shooter-style levels in our media section.
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