Wednesday 7 December 2011

Today's Review: Rayman Origins

I know I don't review too many games, mostly because it takes me a while to fully play through everything that is review worthy so I can give a balanced score. I certainly haven't finished Rayman Origins, but I feel I have seen enough to pass judgement.

Rayman was a 2D platformer back in the old Playstation days. I have played snippets of the original game, and found them to be quite enjoyable. It was Rayman's venture into 3D territory that was awesome though. Rayman 2 was one of the best games on the N64, much following the pattern established by Mario 64 and present in some of my other favourite games of all time, such as Banjo Kazooie. Nice, large levels, plenty to collect, interesting game mechanics, these were the golden days of the platforming genre.

Then the new generations of console came along and something terrible happened. Mario is still obviously going strong with his platforming games, but all the others seem to have faded. The latest Banjo Kazooie was a bit of a mess, introducing some unnecessary vehicle building gameplay, and the introduction of the annoying Rabbids devolved Rayman into mini game fodder, until eventually he was pushed out of the spotlight altogether to make way for legions of screaming rabbits.

But now Rayman is back in Rayman Origins, and origins is the correct word for it. This game is back to the basics. It's a 2D side scrolling platformer, which in this day and age seems a little strange, but the new technologies that have been developed have been employed to full potential here. The game is pretty large. I'm at the end of the fourth world, but there are about ten as far as I can see. Graphically, Rayman Origins is absolutely stunning. It would be so easy to skimp back a bit on the visuals in a simple platforming game, but there are vibrant colours everywhere, and elements in the background and foreground that have great detail put into them. The animations of Rayman and the enemies are great, and these happy, bright colours are a welcome change from the dingy greys and browns of modern shooters and other dark and dreary games.

The gameplay itself is excellent. Each world has its own theme, and within each one several gameplay mechanics are introduced. Skills are gained that can be used to navigate the environment, but pieces of the environment can also be used to progress through the levels. There are wall jumps, ziplines, luminescent sea creatures that guide you through hands that want to grab you in the dark, pretty much every level introduces something new that you'll soon learn to use with ease.

As far as difficulty goes, Rayman Origins is spot on. You can easily run through the levels without too much trouble, perhaps dying a few times, but there are several checkpoints throughout to make sure you don't lose much progress. The difficulty comes in obtaining all the bonus medals. In each level you must obtain 350 of the yellow floating Lums in order to obtain a medallion, and getting all of those can be pretty difficult, forcing you to go outside your comfort zone and pull off some tricky manoeuvres to get to hidden areas and stashes. There is also a bonus level in each world in which you chase a treasure chest through tricky terrain, which are very reminiscent of Super Meat Boy. In these levels, one slip up and you start from the beginning, so memorisation and precise jumps are the key to victory.

All these extra hard parts are optional though, so Rayman Origins is really suitable for the casual gamer and the completionist alike. This game is just pure fun, it looks wonderful, the music is wonderfully composed and never gets too annoying, and it really is a great thing to see in this modern age of bland shooters.

My rating: 5/5

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