“We’ll have what he’s having” might be a common turn of phrase, but when you’re introduced to not only the titular limbless platform hero but also old mate Globox, Teensies, Darktoons, Lums, Electoons and Nymphs – in the space of a snappy musically synced intro no less – you know that Ubisoft aren’t all about dull old third person shooters.
And dull Origins certainly isn’t. In fact, the speedy loading (which is accompanied by a fully playable silhouette) sits beneath some quick, flowing platforming, intuitive controls and pacing that other platformers can only dream of. Even ignoring the visuals (which we’ll come back to shortly) this latest Rayman deftly knocks the ageing Sonic into the nearest murky pond.[drop]And even the likes of Mario, the defacto go-to game series in this genre, have never been as immediately impactful in terms of that initial wow factor.
The first few levels set the tone nicely, the drip feed of moves, disciplines and enemies building up alongside a gradually rising difficulty level.
Once you’ve gained the core abilities (punching and gliding) the game springs to life, mashing together all manner of genre staples and refreshing new ideas with aplomb, never once skipping a beat or faltering.
It’s barely hyperbole to say that Michel Ancel’s dream of bringing traditional animation to life in a game has absolutely come to fruition. The game screams of Disney-esque character and the 2D, high resolution graphics are simply staggering, not least because they’re running at a rock steady sixty frames per second but also because they’re just so damned rich and alive.
I can’t overstate how good Origins looks: it’s one of the best looking games this generation, so detailed are the textures, so sublime is the shading and lighting, the whole thing so crisp and sharp yet rounded, with depth and clarity abound. There’s masses of variety too, with familiar motives carried through to new areas but always with their own distinct look.[drop2]The production values took me completely by surprise – load times are in the single digits in terms of seconds, the controls are perfect, the music catchy and the voice work typically Rayman.
Even the level select screens tie in with the regular game mechanics, and from what we’ve seen so far there’s plenty of stages to tackle too, with each housing secret areas and stacks of collectables.
On top of all of that there’s also four player co-op if you’ve got some mates handy (and some controllers), a nod to a certain plumber perhaps, but welcome indeed.
We’re impressed. So far this is turning out to be a brilliant game, with just the right amount of challenge mixed with a compulsive desire to retry areas to get more Lums and search for more hidden goodies – if only to find out what’s behind some of the already locked off areas.
Whether or not the first hour thrill can be sustained over the whole game is something we’ll need to answer with time…
Our full review is coming soon.