Game: Rayman Origins
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Rayman has always been a cult favourite, so when it was announced that the limbless wonder was going all the way back to his roots people were a little unsure, then it was announced that Michael Ancel, Rayman’s original creator, was returning to the driving seat and everything became all right with the world once more.
Rayman Origins takes Rayman back to his roots, a 2D platformer that tasks the player with rescuing Electoons and overcoming the forces of evil. If you’re a fan of old-school platform games then you’ve probably already noticed Rayman Origins and are waiting to see what people are saying about it, if you haven’t already bought it that is.
I wouldn’t have blamed you.
STORY: Rayman Origins has a very musical start to the game as he and his friends are just having a lazy day sat around the Snoring Tree, the only down side to this is that Rayman’s friend, Globox, is snoring directly into a root that goes all the way down into the Land of the Livid Dead, to the house of a miserable old granny that only wants some peace and quiet. In order to quieten Rayman and his friends the granny unleashes the beasts of the underworld upon them, the only problem is that Rayman isn’t ready to quieten down, and nobody will make him; not without a fight anyway.
The story is very simple but every part of it is enjoyable and, for the vast majority of it, hilarious. The little snippets of information that the player can garner by pulling on Polokum’s beard being some of the funniest throw-away pieces of text that I’ve read in a video game this year. One of the major criticisms of the story however, is that it can diverge from the main point quite often, the overarching story is still maintained but the player can sometimes forget what they’re fighting for as well as who they’re fighting. The gameplay more than makes up for any problems the story might have; although any problems are relatively minor.
GRAPHICS: Rayman Origins is, without a doubt, one of the most visually stunning games that has been released this year. The new UbiArt engine that Ubisoft are using to display all of the 2D graphics within the game does a really good job of giving life to what could have been some pretty lifeless sprites. Thanks to the brand new engine in use all of the visuals look bright and full of life, simply put Rayman Origins is gorgeous.
A news post that we posted on GodisaGeek.com had information on just how many pieces of animation were required for each character in Rayman Origins, over 250, that’s no small feat. The work that was put into animating all of the characters really paid off though, all of the animations, from running, through jumping and dying, are all animated to an extremely high standard and are reminiscent of scenes from classic Disney movies a lot of the time. If Ubisoft keep using the UbiArt engine, maybe even letting other people license its use at a later date, then we could be in for some treats in the next couple of years. Rayman Origins has created a new lease of life for 2D animated video games. Nothing wrong with that at all.
SOUND: Just as with the visuals, the audio within Rayman Origins is some of the best examples of video game audio that’s been seen this year. When talking about the visuals of the game it’s easy to draw comparisons between it and classic Disney movies, the audio is exactly the same, the way the the music changes depending on the situation and whether or not a King Lum has been collected is pure auditory joy. There’s very little speech in Rayman Origins and that’s usually a cue for me to turn down the volume of the TV and stick on a podcast to listen to while I’m playing; that wasn’t an option for Rayman Origins. I wanted to listen to every single tempo change, every single change in the mood of the music and, despite how rare it is, I wanted to listen to every line of dialogue; even if it is spoken in Pig Latin.
GAMEPLAY: There are a lot of things in Rayman Origins for people to be getting on with for quite a substantial amount of time, when I first saw the game at Eurogamer I was worried that the game might not last as long as I wanted it to, with a lot of the levels being rather short; thankfully that’s not the case. The gameplay involves having the player get to the end of a series of increasingly difficult levels and rescue a cage full of cute little Electoons, along the way players will be collecting Lums that will be counted at the end of the level and go towards the players overall score for the level. Everything about the way that the game plays, on it’s very basic level, plays just like an old school Sonic game, the player collects small golden objects and gets to the end of the level in order to rescue a cage full of creatures. I’m pretty sure almost everyone would be able to see the similarities.
Getting to the end of the level isn’t the only thing that’s available for the player to lose themselves in, once the level is finished the timed run mode becomes available. This mode allows the player to test just how accurately and quickly they can get to the end of each level. There are two times associated with each level, the first one, when beaten, will award the player with a single Electoon which will count towards the players total collection. The second, and much faster, time will award the player with a speed trophy as well as a massive sense of accomplishment. The speed runs aren’t easy, in fact they’re some of the most difficult parts of the game because the player will need to practically memorise every single jump in the level, or have superhuman reflexes in order to beat them, but once completing the speed run has been accomplished the player will experience one of the most satisfying feelings in the entire game.
Another aspect of the gameplay is the Skull Teeth, after collecting a certain amount of Electoons a special level will be unlocked, in these special levels there’s only a single objective, chase down and capture a treasure chest that’s running away from Rayman. These levels play very similarly to the speed run sections in that the player will be required to memorise every single aspect of a particular level in order to get to the end whilst also capturing the treasure chest in order to attain the Skull Tooth that’s inside. These treasure chases are some of the most enjoyable parts of the game and my only criticism would be that there are only ten of them in the entire game. Sure you could play the same ones over and over again but that wouldn’t feel the same as catching the bothersome treasure chest for the first time. Collecting all of the Skull Teeth, and returning them back to their rightful owner, the Grim Reaper, back at the Snoring Tree, will open up a whole new section of the game; Night of the Livid Dead, a whole new area of the game that extends the life of the game even further than the surprising length that it already is.
LONGEVITY: Rayman Origins isn’t a short game, not by any means, the main game mode alone will take most people a good 10 to 12 hours to complete and that’s without even attempting to fully complete all of the medallions associated with each of the levels. Complete these, which include collecting a certain amount of Lums within each level in order to fill up The Magician’s test tube, getting to the end of the level within a certain time and finding all of the hidden cages within each level, and you’re looking at a game that could easily take upwards of 20 hours to complete. Not too shabby at all.
VERDICT: Rayman Origins is the game that everyone wished it would be when it was first announced and shown to he world, it’s a near perfect blend of platforming, charm and humour with a gorgeous new 2D engine from Ubisoft. I enjoyed playing Rayman Origins more than I have done a lot of games this year, from the moment I started playing to the moment that the credits (both sets of them) rolled. The only criticism I would make is that the lack of online multiplayer could turn some people away from the game, personally, however, I think that Rayman Origins is an experience that needs to be shared with friends together in the same room, laughing and joking, playing and having fun. That’s the spirit of the game and the way it should always be played; local multiplayer wins the day.