Eurogamer Expo 2011: Rayman Origins Hands-On Preview
When you ask people what game they’re most looking forward to, the games that people will be rushing to when the doors to Eurogamer Expo 2011 are swung open, they’ll probably mention games such as Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and maybe, to a lesser extent at least, games such as Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Saint’s Row the Third. One thing they probably won’t be thinking of, however, is the new Rayman game from Ubisoft, Rayman Origins.
When Ubisoft showed a clip of the game in action back at E3 it looked like a pretty fun little 2D platforming game, similar to the games that we probably all grew up with, only in high definition, but there wasn’t really much else said about it, just that small clip of game footage and then they moved on. I for one wanted to see more of it so I was more than happy to spend a little bit of time at this year’s Eurogamer Expo with it. After playing with it for a little while it seems as if a high definition 2D platformer is pretty much what you’re getting. A polished, top quality platformer that evokes memories of our youth while still being something that’s up to date, a game that’s as fun as it is to play with friends as it is on your own; none of which is a bad thing.
The gameplay in Rayman Origins is very simplistic, something which again evokes childhood memories of playing all those old school games. There are only really two buttons that you’re going to need in order to play the game (I was playing on an Xbox 360), the A button allows Rayman to perform a single jump which is what you’ll be doing for most of the game, pressing A again when you’re in the air will make Rayman do the helicopter thing with his hair that he’s so famous for doing. Players will use this hovering mechanic to get to places that are a little bit further afield as well as, I’m sure, various other interesting uses as the game progresses. The other button that players will be using throughout their time with Rayman Origins is the X button, this is the attack button and Rayman will use this to smash open doors and locks, as well as using it to dispatch enemies, although most players, especially those of the “old school” variety, will spend the vast majority of their time jumping on the enemy heads, classic old school; nothing wrong with that at all.
When the game was first showcased back at E3, one of the first things people picked up on was the quality of the graphics. Things haven’t changed between then and now and the visuals of Rayman Origins look even better when viewed up close. The level I played was called simply ‘Cave’ and involved Rayman running through a cave system, collecting fireflies and destroying enemies as he came across them, everything that you see in game looks as if it could have been drawn by Disney back in the 50’s, it’s got that air about it. The backgrounds are painted to a much higher quality than all of the moving assets such as characters, enemies and collectables and that’s exactly how a Disney movie used to look, before they were mostly computer generated. Even the animations look as if they’re from a bygone era, but in a good way, and it’s quite hard to explain with words, you really need to see it to understand it, but it’s as if they’re rendered at a lower frame rate than the rest of the game to get that hand drawn animated feel out of them. There wasn’t a queue to play Rayman Origins at Eurogamer Expo 2011 and that’s a real shame, especially with a game that really needs to be seen in order to understand just how gorgeous it is.
Rayman Origins has certainly got a unique look to it and it’s one that wouldn’t feel out of place in an Xbox LIVE Arcade title, although it is due to be released as a fully boxed retail version, probably at full retail price too. While it is a good game in terms of gameplay, graphics and just about everything else that was on show at Eurogamer, it’s still a little baffling as to why Rayman Origins isn’t just a downloadable title. The developers have said that there will be 60 levels available that will be spread across 12 different environments, but the couple of levels I played during my time with the game took me between 4 and 5 minutes to complete. That means that for an average gamer there’s only going to be 5 hours of gameplay, hopefully Ubisoft will be releasing more levels as DLC in order to extend the life of the game, because if not it’s going to be a relatively short, and rather expensive game, in terms of the gameplay to cost ratio.
Rayman Origins is still one of the games on my list that I’m looking forward to the most and after having some hands on with the title, that feeling has been firmly cemented. It plays like a dream and doesn’t complicate things like it could have done with extra controls that do things that aren’t really needed. It’s a gorgeous looking game and the only thing that really worries me about the whole thing is that it might end up being a little bit short, and when it comes to a game that’s as beautifully made as Rayman Origins is then that’s not something you want. Hopefully, in an ideal world, the levels that I played are ones from the beginning of the game, maybe even the tutorial levels and, as such, are bound to be shorter than the rest of the game.
We can only wait and hope until the full game is released on the 18th of November for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and 3DS, in order to truly be able to tell.