Rayman Origins Review
Review By ChadDrake @ 05:36pm 15/12/11
Even without vestigial limbs, Rayman's been obliterating our televisions since CRT was the pinnacle of high techness. After ambling around for several years in the limbless ether, then presumably hiding in shame as his platformer brethren slowly lent their likenesses to mediocre 3D gaming experiences (barring Mario, of course), he made some semi-recent brief cameo's in those Rabbid games which arguably rebooted his career. And now he's back.
Trusty hoodie on and gloves freshly pressed, Rayman has returned to our consoles with some amazingly gorgeous candy-coloured visuals, catchy-as-humming-Lum audio and it's all done in true classic side-scrolling (and some up) platforming style thanks in large part to the experience being helmed by Rayman creator, and industry legend, Michel Ancel. This is a rubber stamp on just what solid platforming was, and is, meant to be. And thankfully the experience never lets up in quality for a single minute -- from start to finish.
Quality, and I mean real quality platformers are a bit of scarcity these days. I’m not sure whether it’s due to the big names sitting around a pixel shaped tables deliberating about how un-3D platformers are and deciding that they are a dated format, or if they think we as consumers are happy with rehash after rehash *cough* Nintendo *cough*. (All said and done I still love me a Mario platformer.) Anyway, there really hasn't been much love for the trusty platformer of late with the exception of indie devs who occasionally pop up with the odd gem, which, of course never receives the attention it deserves - Super Meat Boy... ‘nuff said.
Remember everyone bitching about how colourful Diablo III looked from the screens when they first surfaced? Well those complaints were a drop of paint compared to the lush, vivid visuals that borrow more from psychedelic flashbacks and Pantone colour books that bound on to the screen in Rayman Origins. Even the packaging of the Collector’s Edition contains more colours than they fit into the entire Fallout 3 experience. The UBIart framework seems to have given unprecedented control to the artists involved, creating backgrounds that seamlessly blend traditional animation techniques with modern digital effects, and immense detail, in the finer points of animating character’s expressions and movements.
Shiny, colourful images ain’t enough without some complimentary audio though, and again Rayman Origins delivers. Even with the Skyrim soundtrack invading my head 24/7 Rayman Origins has interrupted the Thums and fanfare, instead inserting a playful and cheerful chorus of high pitched humming into my already starved for space cranium. Even the menu screens have been crafted in a manner where making selections gives you an opportunity to create your own score.
It’s definitely nigh time for a platformer with solid controls and thoroughly enjoyable playability to grace us on our "next gen" consoles. But with all the perfection in controls, great response from your controller and a few nods to games of yore, Rayman cannot double jump or change direction mid-air when performing a wall jump. It's not necessarily to the game’s detriment although it does create frustration, especially when a solid platformer should to offer the finesse that allows ultimate control of our protagonist.
Truly capturing the nostalgic essence of earlier Rayman games, we are presented with a simple control setup of jump, run and attack. Any more would just convolute things (sans the double thing, mentioned above). Familiar moves are learnt in each new world, beginning with attacking and we progressively learn more, such as an ability to hover and shrink, or grow in size -- just what I need to find those obscured hidden areas that whimsically appear offering up countless more Lums to collect, providing that solid sense of satisfaction.
Once you tire from collecting Lums, and rescuing big booty, buxom pixies, grab some friends and partake in some co-op multiplayer. I spent most of my time slapping and knocking my teammates off cliffs and unfortunately there's not much more to the multiplayer than that. There's no inherit co-op moves. Just as there is no driving force for a co-op gaming experience by way of unreachable areas only accessible by partaking in some head jumping or more.
It's not often that games truly deliver in their artistic vision but with Rayman’s creator at the helm, this really is a solid, cohesive and artistic experience. With visuals that literally breathe the colours and style of their concept art, and traditional platformer controls, Rayman Origins will sate your side-scroller needs and with plenty of collectibles on each level, it will give you the replayability you need to get your cash worth. Best platformer I’ve played, experienced and ogled at in a long while.