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Review

Rayman Origins Review (PS3/360)

Platforming perfection?

Rayman never really needed to be anything other than a 2D platformer. 3D platformers were all the rage back in 1999, and Rayman 2 needed to step up at the time – 2D just wouldn’t cut it. And if Rayman 3 had been in 2D, it would have felt like a step backwards, surely?

Fast forward to 2011, sixteen years after Rayman’s last main 2D outing and, suddenly, Ubisoft have thrown away a needless dimension and taken a step back into Rayman’s roots with Rayman Origins. The thing is, it doesn’t feel like a step back at all, really it’s anything but that. It’s not a remake either, and it’s no longer a prequel – it’s more of a subtle reboot of the franchise, which carries over most of Rayman’s friends and foes from the previous games.


Rayman Origins can be played locally with four players - and co-op is a blast.
Rayman, Globox and two Teensies make up the four playable characters in Origins; whether you’re playing on your own or with three friends you’ll be able to select any of these characters to play with, which, despite size differences, act almost identically in terms of speed, attack power and platforming abilities – the two Teensie characters being completely identical. All of the characters feel quite speedy and energetic, and it’s this sense of speed which helps make this one of the finest platformers in existence.

Set over six worlds, each with its own theme, and an overall level count that comes close to seventy, Origins certainly doesn’t lack variety. Rayman and his friends will travel through a jungle, a desert, an icy area which changes into a fiery kitchen in the blink of an eye, the bottom of the sea and even to the top of a mountain and beyond, collecting new powers as they go. These powers – punching, hovering, diving and so on are revealed and then introduced at the perfect moments, before any of them get a chance to become stale.

Your objective, much like in the first Rayman game, is to free Electoons from their cages in order to progress. This can be achieved in a few ways: either by outright destroying their cage and the enemies protecting it (each level has an obvious cage at the end, and most feature two secret cages to discover); by collecting the required amount of Lums in a particular level; or by re-doing the level against the clock.

Trophies and medals can also be collected by beating the clock or collecting a lot of Lums.

Of course, freeing these Electoons isn’t going to be a very fun task if the controls are clunky and the animations are lifeless. Thankfully, Origins is the exact opposite of that; the controls and animations alike flow beautifully as Rayman and his friends jump and fight in response to the face buttons, dive, slide and generally move using the left stick, and sprint with any of the shoulder buttons.

And that’s the basis of the game: using these abilities to free Electoons from cages through a plethora of levels; each of which is crafted excellently. The level design really shines, with each level divided into sections separated by doors that act as checkpoints and, along with introducing new ideas and gameplay mechanics, the difficulty ramps up at the perfect moments.

These levels are filled with enemies to defeat – all of whom, bar bosses, will ‘bubbleize’ in a singular hit, leaving their floating, ballooned body to jump on or hit again for an extra Lum. Similarly, after one hit, your character will bubbleize unless you’ve collected a heart. If you’re fortunate enough to have picked one up, it’ll take a hit instead of you in the typical fashion.

In singleplayer, you’ll die instantly after being bubbleized and be teleported back to the last checkpoint. However, if you’re playing with friends you’ll be able to move your character around until one of them pops you and brings you back to the ground.

It’s not all fast-paced platforming, though – Rayman will often gather his Moskito allies and then engage in side-scrolling shooter segments which are all well execute and fun to play through. Boss levels are also delightful affairs, with one in particular sticking out as a fantastic example of level design.


Twenty thousand adjectives wouldn't describe just how good Rayman Origins looks.
Perhaps the most important thing about Rayman Origins is how absolutely stunning it looks; one of the first things you’ll notice about it is the wonderful art style, with a vast colour palette and unmatched 2D animation.

In fact, it’s one of the finest looking games this generation – it might lack the hyper-realistic graphics of Battlefield or the stunning, detailed 3D world of Uncharted, but it’s essentially a playable 2D cartoon, with impressive HD textures that are second to none in this genre. Rayman Origins is simply one of the most attractive games to look at in recent memory.

Origins also succeeds with its sound design – the music is extremely catchy and wonderfully composed (I found myself humming along on more than one occasion). The voice acting is sublime, as whilst at first it might seem like complete unintelligible nonsense, it soon becomes apparent that the words are still spoken, just in a jumbled manner.

Whilst it is one of the best platformers ever created, there are a few things that it lacks – it has everything a game needs to be a successful platformer: Lums to collect, powers to harness, hidden areas, a simple health system, super fast load times to avoid frustration and speedy characters with fluid animations, yet you can’t help but feel that a more driven narrative would really add to the otherwise fantastic experience.

There’s not much else to fault Rayman Origins on though; some minor control issues did arise in co-op and you’re only able to play locally, rather than with three online friends.

It’s a lengthy game, too – you won’t be short changed with four or five hours of gameplay; there’s eight to ten hours of levels to progress through and even more time can be spent replaying and collecting everything to unlock all of the costumes and even some additional levels.

Pros:

  • Unbelievably impressive visuals.
  • Tight, fluid controls in singleplayer.
  • Remarkable level design.
  • Platforming at its finest.
  • A good length with lots of things to collect and unlock.
  • Fans of Rayman will be delighted.

Cons:

  • Co-op is offline only.
  • Minor control issues in co-op.
  • Lack of a cohesive narrative leaves it occasionally aimless.

Perhaps, though, all of Origin’s little faults – such as the lack of a tightly-knit story or online co-op – are in keeping with what Rayman is at heart: a traditional platformer. That’s all it’s aiming for, to bring that style of game into the modern age with spectacular design, incredible visuals and animation, top-notch sound and a lengthy playtime.

Rayman Origins puts Sonic in his place and stands atop the pile of this generation’s 2D platformers. It’s as close to platforming perfection as we can get from a Rayman game and not just a step forwards for Rayman himself but ultimately a step forwards for the genre altogether.

Score: 9/10

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27 Comments
  1. fiffyfu
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    I never played any of the old Rayman games when I was younger, but the reviews I have seen for this one have really got me interested. I think I am going to go and download the demo and give this a try.

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 09:17.
  2. Dan Lee
    Common like the rest of us.
    Since: Jun 2010

    I played a bit of this on Vita and it was fantastic. Visually stunning with controls that feel spot-on.

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 09:18.
  3. kivi95
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    Will wait to buy this game to when it’s released for psvita.

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 09:31.
  4. freezebug2
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    Great review, and as stated one of the cons is a lack of online co-op, but I think that with some of the jumps and moves having to be so perfect to land on the target, then any online lag would totally ruin the game…I’d imagine that was a contributory factor in the decision to stay offline.
    The game is definately a massive step up from those crappy 3D versions that were released under the guise of Rabbids? and Rayman is firmly back on track! Awesome game that every platform lover will relish ;)

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 09:32.
  5. KeRaSh
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Excellent review, Blair.
    I only disagree with some of your cons. For me the local only coop is the biggest Pro of them all. You simply could not capture the fun of the game if you played it online without someone sitting right next to you.
    I was playing with my brother on Sunday and during one of the special race levels I ran through the whole level in one go while my brother died right at the beginning. He then managed to get infront of me and I “revived” him right before the end of the level and when I got ready to break the box he just slapped me against the wall and opened the box himself. This was probably one of the funniest moments of our gaming history. We jsut couldn’t stop laughing. Another funny moment was when my brother tried to reach a ledge that I was already standing on and I just bashed him down in a hole.
    The other thing is the lack of a narrative. I don’t think the game would be any better if they forced a lame story in the game. Mario only needs to save the princess from Bowser and Link always has to rescue Zelda from Ganon. Rayman has to free the Electoons. Some games don’t need complex stories. Some games are just about the gameplay and Ubisoft hit the sweet spot with Rayman Origins.
    Great level design, great gameplay, great visuals, tight controls, lots of fun, short loading times, solid framerate, great sound, great voice acting, no bugs, no day one patch, no online pass to worry about. You pop in the disc and the fun starts.
    It’s also great for skilled players and casual gamers alike. It’s enough of a challenge for me to stay alive and get as many points as possible while keeping an eye out for my girlfriend who can come back right after she died.
    This is what a 10/10 should be like in my book and Rayman Origins deliverd, no doubt about it.

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 09:40.
    • KeRaSh
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      Could you explain the coop control issues you encountered? I’ve played it coop on different occaisions and we never noticed any control issues (PS3). What version did you play when you encountered the issues?

      Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 09:55.
      • mynameisblair
        hisnameisblair
        Since: May 2009

        On 360, the second player’s stick kept locking up as if it was running the other way, for no reason.

        Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 11:25.
      • KeRaSh
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        That’s really weird. We definitely didn’t encounter this issue while playing the PS3 version.

        Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 11:46.
      • IAmJacksMedullaOblongata
        Member
        Since: Nov 2011

        Guys, saying the game is (360/PS3) in the title is great, but can you please quote at the bottom (or top, whatever) of the review which version was play-tested? Thanks.

        Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 12:40.
      • KeRaSh
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        I thought the mentioned consoles were the ones used in the process of writing the review. As far as I know there’s also a Wii version of the game so it can’t be a list of available versions of the game. It would indeed be misleading if only the 360 version was tested.

        Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 12:56.
    • Youles
      Member
      Since: Feb 2011

      You are a better man than I. I’d have punched my brother if he’d done that to me at the end!

      Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 10:17.
      • KeRaSh
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        Haha, you don’t get ranked individually anyways. It all adds to a pool in the end so it doesn’t really matter but if anything I should have applauded him for this action. It’s exactly what I expect from a caring brother. I’d have done the same thing if I had been in his shoes. :D

        Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 10:29.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Ha ha. It was interesting to hear your points after reading the review. I must admit I wasn’t too excited by the demo, but I might give it another go now, and some of the other levels/locations look pretty smart!

        Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 10:46.
  6. Kevatron400
    Drake, baby.
    Since: Dec 2008

    Nice review, definitely going to get this to keep me going until Christmas.

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 09:45.
  7. R4U Eldave0
    andUandU
    Since: Aug 2008

    Lovely little game. Probably one of the best this year. Not that the majority of gamers will notice this of course… :(

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 09:45.
    • KeRaSh
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      It’s a real shame this will slip under the radar. It didn’t even make it into the top 40 in the UK sales charts. I guess the problem is that it’s not a generic shooter…

      Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 09:48.
      • Crocadillian
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Or it wasnt promoted adequately? You can’t just expect a product to sell if no-one knows about it :P

        Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 12:45.
  8. Bilbo_bobbins
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    based on this review and one or two others I am going to get this for christmas. Looks very impressive and remind me of the old crash bandicoot I used to love.

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 10:22.
  9. Crazy_Del
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    It’s on my christmas list. The demo was brilliant I played the same level like 5 times. Fantastic game that is, lots of fun.

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 10:47.
  10. moshi
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Nope, still no urge after reading the review to ever play this game.

    Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 10:52.
    • Bilbo_bobbins
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      wow, you don’t like Rayman moshi?

      Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 11:34.
      • moshi
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        played the demo, admittedly it looks stunning but the game just felt empty and as Blair stated “Aimless”

        Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 11:47.
    • Forrest_01
      Member
      Since: Jun 2009

      I am kinda the same to be fair – It looks absolutely stunning of course & i absolutely love the art style, but i just can’t see myself sitting down with a platformer & playing it through to the end these days.

      There just isn’t enough in the way of gameplay mechanics & story driven narrative to keep me interested unfortunately.

      The wife might like it though.

      Comment posted on 29/11/2011 at 11:38.

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