by Ryan Sandrey
reviewed on X360
Yes, he’s finally ditched those bloody Rabbids
After years of languishing in the wilderness whilst being upstaged by Rabbids, Rayman is back on centre-stage where he belongs. With platformers undergoing somewhat of a resurrection in 2011, with the grand masters Sonic and Mario appearing in quite frankly brilliant titles, it is fitting that Ubisoft Montpellier have brought the limbless adventurer back to his roots with the side-scrolling platformer Rayman Origins. Originally planned as an episodic title, Ubisoft has ditched the idea and chosen to throw the game into the deep-end, where you can’t swim a few metres without bumping into another stellar title. In such a sink or swim environment, can Rayman Origins make a good enough show of itself to stand out from the crowd, or will it simply be lost to the depths?
We join our intrepid adventurers Rayman, Globox and two teensies in the Glade of Dreams. Their raucous and irritating snoring had angered the Land of the Livid Dead, causing a plague of horrifying creatures and Darktoons to swarm the world, stealing the Electoons and Nymphs and creating a general aura of chaos. Since they were the source of the problem, it is up to you to guide Rayman and his friends through the various worlds and restore order. What an annoyance.
It’s lucky, therefore, that Rayman Origins is a fantastic example of a great platformer. Though the genre has had its many critics over the years claiming that it’s antiquated or lost its charm, Rayman Origins completely disproves that. The game is structured in a way similar to New Super Mario Bros Wii, a game which this one takes many hints from. You work your way through various worlds, each one containing a certain number of levels that can be tackled alone in or in 4-player local co-op. In these worlds, there are several collections of Electoons and many Nymphs for you to liberate. The Electoons help power the world and gain Rayman and his companions new costumes and access to new areas and bonus levels, whilst the Nymphs grant you new powers when you save them. It is a simple yet addictive formula, with the added collectible of Skull Teeth.
Instead of taking the more ‘fashionable’ approach to platformers, Rayman Origins is strictly a two-dimensional side-scrolling affair, rather than a faux 3D experience. This hasn’t inhibited on the style of the game, but has allowed the game to stick to its simplistic and easy-to-pick-up roots whilst still feeling a modern take on the genre. This is a brilliant achievement, and it rejuvenates the Rayman we all knew and loved in the 90s to seriously challenge Mario and Sonic once more.
Presented with love and attention
Whilst the gameplay is pure and brilliant, that’s surprisingly not the most appealing thing about Rayman Origins. As surprising as it might be, the most appealing and charming aspect about the game is the presentation of it. Whilst it doesn’t immediately hit home how technologically impressive it is, the game’s engine runs at 1080p at a solid 60fps, which is something that a lot of games in this day and age still can’t do on consoles. The animated aesthetic of the game is quite frankly beautiful as well. With none of the grey-brown palette from recent blockbuster titles overtaking the game, what’s left is a colourful and astonishingly beautiful game that emanates personality.
This personality continues in the audio-design with the infectious rhythm of the background music becoming firmly lodged in your memory and refusing to budge. As you make your way through the various levels, it soon becomes second nature to hum the music as you’re going along. This signifies the personality of Rayman Origins- once you’ve played it, it rightfully gains a place in your heart.
I get by with a little help from my friends
Such a brilliant game as Rayman Origins can be enjoyed in solo mode, but you miss out on the frantic hilarity of 4 player co-op. It’s what the game is meant to be played in, and adds a whole new dimension to the fun of the game. Accidentally punching your friend who gets in the way of your fist is hilarious at first, but not so funny if you’re the one who gets plunged into the nearest piranha pit. Despite all the irritations that working with your friends can bring, such as having one friend rush off in front leaving you to languish off-screen and eventually die, 4 player co-op is a welcome addition to the Rayman series, handily borrowed from the magnificent New Super Mario Bros Wii.
Returning to the roots of the series has proved a masterstroke by Ubisoft Montpellier. Whilst t he Rabbids were not to everyone’s tastes, and Rayman was pushed to a supporting role in an annoying move, Rayman Origins provides a brilliant case as to why he should still be the main focus. It really is amazing. People who say platformers are dead or lack the charm they once had should play it then shut up and fall in love with the title, like any sane person would.
A charming and brilliant return for the limbless adventurer, complete with friends and a presentation style that is unique and second to none. 4 player co-op is a brilliant addition.
Online co-op would have been nice.