As a novice Wii enthusiast, I must admit I was afraid to tackle a game as epic as Ubisoft's Rayman Raving Rabbids 2. This was the title being sold as 'the party game' by my friends in the gaming world. I was afraid that my inexperience would be blatantly apparent the second I opened the case. Truth be told, I needn't have worried. This delightful sequel goes down like a glass full of silk for Wii virgins and experienced players alike.
In the first title, Ubisoft writers wrote Rayman, an orange haired, invisi-limbed…thing who is kidnapped by the evil Rabbids and their wiley leader Serguei. The sequel brings the story home, when an army of Rabbids attacks Earth, using a shopping mall as their base. Rayman must disguise himself as one of the Rabbids to gain entrance to their headquarters and foil their plans.
The game is centered around a collection of fifty-odd mini games, which can be played solo, or with friends. The player can opt to go on one of five 'trips', a randomly chosen group of games centered on a geographical location, or he can choose his from his favorites and create a custom trip using any or all of the unlocked games. Of course, you can also play each one individually, without going on a trip at all. As in the previous edition, there are also shooter-style games involving plungers and lots of little Rabbids. How quaint.
The mini games range from Rock Band style musical numbers to spitting carrot juice to balancing giant hamburgers on a platter. A personal favorite is a charming little game where you must be the last to beat a Rabbid to unconscious with a carrot. Another one has you hitting your Rabbid children in the backseat of the car to get them to stop acting up. My absolute favorite is called 'Spider Rabbid', where you fight to gain Spiderman-esque swinging powers. As you swing from building to building, your co-players try to wrest the talent from you with lasers. That's right, lasers. Lasers make everything better.
The old fashioned shooter-style sequences have you defending Earth from the invading Rabbids. As you follow a set route, your goal is simply to aim, shoot and kill those little bunnies with a plunger to the face. That's right, I said plunger. All of mankind is about to end via nibbly bunny death, and all you get a plunger gun. Bonus points for buttshots. Graphically-speaking, this portion of the game is superior. Ubisoft used real-life footage shot in various locations, and added the cartoon Rabbids to create a unique shooting atmosphere. It almost makes you believe that a bunny invasion is possible in downtown New York city.
With the exception of the shooters, I must admit I was disappointed with the poor graphics in the game. If I hadn't been holding a Wiimote, I could have believed it was on any other (older) console. There was little to no detailing on the many outfits, poor shading and generally sub-par quality. The music, after repeated playing, quickly became irritating, to the point where I muted it.
In the first title, Ubisoft rewarded your efforts by throwing a handful of unlockable costumes at you. This time, there are so many it'll make your head spin. Every highscore beaten unlocks a new outfit, ranging from Spiderman to a doctor to a Viking. Each outfit is made up of parts that can be mixed and matched to create delightful and unusual outfits. As an added bonus, you can also update your scores online and see where you stand in the rankings.
Unfortunately, since Ubisoft endeavored to make it accessible to everyone, the game can quickly become mind numbingly simple. While the games are generally varied in idea, you pretty much do the same motions over and over again. Shake the Wiimote until your arm falls off, or shake the Wiimote and nunchuk until both your arms fall off. Occasionally, you'll use the Wiimote to balance or steer, but for the most part, you'll be doing a lot of shaking. Lots and lots of shaking. This doesn't really become an issue unless you plan on playing the game for an extended period of time.
Also, if you intend on playing the game by yourself, just don't. That is, unless you play the shooters. Ubisoft decided that it would eliminate a good part of the AI, making solo playing a trifle pathetic. What's the point of balancing a ten foot burrito if you don't have to avoid people while you're at it? The removal of the AI characters is rather inconsistent as well, leaving you hanging in some unexpected games.
Despite numerous faults, Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 is a decent sequel to a fabulous game by Ubisoft. Ignore the graphics and you have a game that is both great at parties and even better for plunger shooting fun. While it may not on my top ten list this year, it's a good standby when you need to break the ice.