Who knew that 2D gaming on this current-gen of consoles could be so good! I certainly didn’t until Ubisoft allowed thisisxbox to review the brand-spanking-new Rayman Origins. It instantly reminds you of how games used to be made in the good old days when platformers dominated the gaming world, and just how much fun you can have with a game that features both stunning and magical environments from start to end! Rayman Origins is going to make you put down those guns for a moment on your favourite first-person-shooters and bring back home the memories of why you first owned a console in the first place. Who needs a head-shot when you can start collecting smiley Electoons!
Rayman Origins is the first title from Ubisoft to use the new UbiArt framework, which is an in-house graphics engine that allows artists and designers to focus on the visual aspect of the game itself without needing to over-do-it on the technical side of development. The UbiArt framework allows developers to create an animation system from literally any drawing, and it really illustrates itself well within the game, displaying each character as well as the level design in way as if you were playing an interactive animated movie aimed at children and adults of all ages. I don’t think to date there has ever been a 2D platform game as beautifully crafted as Rayman Origins, it’s a sheer work of art on your screen that is vibrant, fun, and well executed for the games immersive dream-world story.
In this Rayman outing, your mission is to eventually restore peace in an idyllic world known as the Glade of Dreams, as the Darktoons (evil beings) from The Land of the Livid Dead has come over to cause havoc through-out the land and capture the inhabiting Electoons and Nymphs that occupy within. This catastrophe happened because you were snoring on a tree, the snoring tree to be more precise and you disturbed the dark underworld creatures that are out for revenge! It’s not the most gripping of stories, I’ll be honest, but you do tend to forget about it instead to focus your efforts on collecting, unlocking and beating the bosses.
Having escaped capture from the Darktoons, as Rayman, with the help of Globox and a few known friends from past Rayman games, your campaign journey is based on successfully rescuing the Electoons and Nymphs from each separate land within the Glade of Dreams. There are over sixty flamboyant levels to run through, and whilst Rayman doesn’t appear to have arms and legs – he sure has got some balls, as he takes on a whole horde of nightmares in his efforts to restore the peace and harmony needed for the Glade of Dreams to survive. As every great platformer needs some form of collectible, Lums are to Rayman as Rings are to Sonic the Hedgehog. By collecting as many Lums as you can find scattered throughout the levels you get to unlock more Electoons and earn Medals which will in effect unlock other stages throughout the adventure.
The environments span from luscious green Jungle’s to magical musical deserts, scenic mountains and wintery cold Iceland’s. You will fly the skies on mosquitos, ride over clouds on flutes, escape terrifying giant boss creatures that resemble birds and fish – oh, and eventually get to meet a massive squid like fiend known as Big Mama, she wants your blood!
As you start your adventure it does all feel relatively simple and straight forward, the controls are easy to manage, intuitive and pretty much walk to the right and jump, just as you have done on many other side-scrolling platformers – it’s like you’ve always played Rayman. Then, before you know it, as you are delving deeper into the story it gets more increasingly difficult with harder challenges and by that time you have unlocked even more skills. You eventually master the art of throwing your fist, sprinting and gliding in the air; all of which combined are the requirements in managing to get from the start of a level to the end hopefully without dying. Thankfully, Rayman Origins has an unlimited number of lives and auto-save points that certainly doesn’t make the game any easier, nor a breeze to fly through, but does take away the frustration from starting completely from scratch after every death. This is most certainly a game you will find hard to put down for sure regardless of what age you are or what genre is your preference, whilst at the same time trying desperately not to hum its cutesy tunes in public. It doesn’t feature any form of separate online multiplayer modes, but the adventure story can be played co-operatively with up to four players at any one time. By working together you can explore different parts of the lands that aren’t accessible to the one person as a single player outing, and you may even hunt out together more of the secret passage ways housing caged Electoons with ponytails who desperately need your help! Without them there wouldn’t be Treasure Challenges and unlockable characters – it is your duty… you wouldn’t want them to live like caged battery hens – would you?
Every level within the game will leave a lasting impression of utter-wow-ness, but sadly I don’t think many are going to be aware of this release due to being overshadowed by all the big franchises this year which have all been released after one another – Gears of War, Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, Assassins Creed – do you even have any money left for Rayman Origins? My advice, go find some – really, this is quite frankly the platformer of all platformers and something quite special that you’re not going to realise unless you play it for yourself. This game is by no means a disappointment and worthy a space on your game’s shelf, or cupboard – or wherever you put them… either way just get it by any means!
(legally of course)