At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Andy Daniel Xbox 360 Ubisoft Ubisoft Montpellier 1-4 (Share screen)
Requirements Also on... Buy from Amazon.co.uk
None. PS3, Wii Click here to buy Rayman Origins.

Rayman Origins review

It’s been 16 years since the introduction of Rayman, a limbless and smiley protagonist saving beautiful dreamworlds. Since then, we see the series challenge the 3D game world in Rayman 2 and 3, spin-offs such as golf, brain games, and the tenuously-linked Raving Rabbids. It’s about time Rayman reached back to his roots, and Ubisoft did a fantastic job doing just that with Rayman Origins.

We find Rayman back in the Glade of Dreams, a beautiful idyllic world dreamt up entirely by the bearded Bubble Dreamer. Glorious flora and fauna live peacefully here, until inhabitants of a nearby world, the Land of the Livid Dead, invade and cause horrendous havoc. It is up to Rayman, his blue stout friend Globox and the tiny Teensies to save the Glade of Dreams from this destructive force once and for all.

This really is an image from the game and not artwork

This really is an image from the game and not artwork

The first thing that you will undoubtedly notice with Rayman Origins is just how beautiful the graphics are. Actually, beautiful is an understatement. Rolling the words cute, charming, colourful, unique and lush all together might get close to what I see. Every moment in the game can be a freeze frame desktop wallpaper (actually, I have done that). Taking advantage of Ubisoft's latest graphical engine, UbiArt, the artists have taken centre stage over the developers and introduced a new breed of 2D side-scrolling platformer. This is an old genre brought bang into the present, and boy is it a bang indeed. The 60+ levels are spread over 7 very distinct environments. From the luscious green floral world of the Jibberish Jungle, through the sharp and distorted icy world of Gourmand Land, to the mountainous world of Mystical Pique, this is a style of art that will never cease to wow and amaze anybody. Simply put, this game beats many modern 3D games in terms of looks and charm by simply being about the art.

Controlling Rayman through the game is as charming as the graphics. Adopting the basics of run and jump, we can storm through bad guys by leaping onto their head and ‘bubblizing’ them: essentially bloating them up into a bubble ready for destruction with another pounce. Slapping (again, provided in a charming manner with a perfectly sounding slap audio effect) is the best way to tackle not just enemies, but also co-operative friends. Throughout the game, mystical beings will provide our cheerful characters with more abilities reminiscent of the Rayman franchise such as gliding, alongside some nice new additions such as wall climbing and shrinking. These game dynamics are certainly not brand new, but they are fresh in this environment, and each still have their charm alongside the rest of the game.

The game is best played in 4-player co-op

The game is best played in 4-player co-op

You don’t have to play alone as Rayman however. The game supports 4 player co-op through all levels, sporting any time drop-in and drop-out à la LittleBigPlanet. So while you’re facing some slippy slopes in the ice levels, a friend can pop along and join as one of the many other unlockable characters. They can either help you along, or undoubtedly in my case, grief you with some happy slapping. Who needs enemies when you have friends? When working together with friends sprinting and jumping through levels, the game looks like charming clockwork machinery. Players running and taking separate paths looks like a Disney dream. I advise playing the game with as many friends as possible, as the number of players is an epic fun multiplier. Unfortunately, the game lacks online multiplayer, meaning that you have to bring your friends round in the flesh to gain advantages of co-op. This may be intentional because lots of shouting and exclamations ensued amongst ourselves. That said, online would still improve the game, as it did for LittleBigPlanet.

The game has a lot of variety throughout. Besides the usual platforming elements, we take part in side-scrolling shooters sections riding giant mosquitoes, underwater swimming or epic bosses. The bosses will come later in the game, just as the difficulty has slowly raised from trivial to tiring. While I found some of the bosses to be difficult, it was very easy to keep going back again and again. The same goes for the later, more difficult levels. Although it can be tough timing some of the tricky jumps, it is hard to give up on the huge amounts of charm.

Don't forget to collect those yellow creatures

Don't forget to collect those yellow creatures

And finally, if playing through all of the levels - which takes around 8 to 10 hours (depending on who you play with) - isn’t enough for you, then you’re in luck because there is so much more. Each level contains 3 crates of Electoons, tiny lovable pink circle creatures captured and ready for Rayman to liberate. Two of the crates are hidden, which requires some exploration, as collecting more and more Electoons unlocks new levels and playable characters. Each level contains over 350 Lums, chirpy golden orbs dotted around, often in secret, hard-to-reach locations. Collecting the majority of Lums provides more Electoons into the bank too. All this provides a good reason to keep searching and collecting throughout the levels, providing extensive replayability, especially if you’d like to enter the Land of the Livid Dead; this requires ten skull teeth, found in unlockable levels requiring the player to chase a treasure chest. Believe me, it may sound ridiculous but it is very easy to get sucked in, especially if you're keen on getting to 100% complete in games like myself.

It is very hard not to get caught up in Rayman Origins’ vast wealth of charm and depth. So caught up it is easy to forget the lack of online multiplayer, because playing with friends around one TV is how a multiplayer side-scrolling platformer should be. The same idea goes with the fantastic art style offered by the new UbiArt engine. It is easy to fall back to being young and amazed by video games with Rayman Origins, and to me, that is a massive win.

Ratings

Overall A classic genre made contemporary with a fantastic new art style and graphics engine. Mixed together with a deep system of hidden items to collect makes for a very rich game that is easy to forgive for its a lack of online capability. 10/10

Click here to buy Rayman Origins from Amazon.co.uk.

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