Thursday, 22 December 2011

Rayman Origins (360) - Review

A long long time ago, back in the mid nineties. I had abandoned consoles, for a PC with more mature and fantastical gaming. I spent my days revelling in Doom 2, Rise of the Triad, X-Wing and Wing Commander. I remember that what I was missing during those days was a decent console platform game like the Sonic games I played so much previously. Then, I was introduced to Rayman on the PC an enhanced version of Sony PlayStation game released in 1995.

I fell in love with the game straight away - the art style, the level design and the gameplay. Most of all, it was the character of Rayman himself. He was so full of expression and life. The game itself was pretty unforgiving and one of the hardest platform games I remember persevering with. The game was a success on all platforms it was released on. The second game jumped into the 3D platform genre along with it's contemporaries. It also raised the bar for 3D based platform games at the time as well.

The years passed and Rayman seemed to become a back seat passenger in his own franchise, with the introduction of the Raving Rabbids. They took over and soon Rayman had disappeared altogether.

Well, I am happy to report that.... He is back! In his own game and going back to his roots as a 2D platform game. The game is set as a prequel to the other games and details how Rayman got all of his powers. His friend Globox is on hand to help.. and they set off to fight the Darktoons, evil Mr Dark and the Livid Dead. Rayman must travel across the land collecting Lums and Electoons in order to defeat the Darktoons and help the Fairies of the Forest restore order to the land.

The first thing that grabs you right from the start menu is the amazingly beautiful and vibrant graphics. The wonderful hand drawn characters and art are incredible to see in motion. The game feels more like a living cartoon rather than a video game. Every level is a visual delight and contains a strong theme in each. The game starts in the Jibberish Jungle which is very similar to the opening level of the original Rayman - A mixture of lush green plateaus and Rushing waterfalls. As the screenshots show it looks amazing, but to see the game move at the pace that it does is incredible. The game moves to the deserts littered with musical instruments and notes. My favourite level has to be the Frozen Tundra complete with Icebergs containing various frozen food stuffs. Halfway through the level you descend underground to a Lava world complete with Mexican cooking theme.

After each world ends Rayman has to travel to the next land. This involves jumping on the back of a friendly mosquito and enjoying a quick shoot em up level. For every Medal you receive at the end of a level for rescuing Electoons and collecting lums. you open treasure levels that let you chase a living treasure chest down in order to collect its prize Skull Teeth. Collect enough of these to unlock the final secret level.

It all sounds bizarre, and it is, and that is part of the charm of the game. It is off the wall and highly entertaining. The music and sound effects are really good and really help the games character. The actual game itself is a very quick paced classic platform affair. It doesn't innovate the gameplay as much as the earlier Rayman games, but it almost a celebration of the classic platform games.

More importantly, Rayman Origins allows for co-op play for up to FOUR players. This has meant for the first time ever my eldest gamer, LadyBG has been playing on the Xbox. She has played the game with me and on her own. She loves the game and the characters. Although, the difficulty is a little steep for a four year old and I do have to help her out. Past the first main world though, we only play in co-op (with Daddy doing most of the work). It has been really nice for us to play on the Xbox together and I think we shall be playing this for a while. It makes her laugh and that always makes everything worth it.

This is easily the best looking 2D game on the current generation and possibly the best looking platform game ever. It is really worth a look as the game is just fun on a disc. If you have kids it is a must have game. just make sure you take the time to play it with them.  Rayman Origins is going to be memorable game for me, just as the first one was all those years ago.

This time though, it is because it is the game in which my eldest little gamer unlocked her first ever achievement! Sniff, sniff... it was an emotional moment for this gaming Dad, I tell you!

Verdict: 8 out of 10

Thanks to Emanate PR for the review copy.

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