Rayman Origins (Wii) Review
Ubisoft have long been a well received 3rd party developer, who generally produce games of a high standard that are a blast to play.
That said, as their stocks have risen, they have also produced a lot of garbage, that sadly reflects poorly on their usual lofty standards. On one hand you have gems such as Rayman (specifically the N64 and recently 3DS versions), Red Steel 2, Beyond Good and Evil, and the Assassins Creed series. Sadly, the other hand consists of a whole heap of shovelware designed and developed purely as an exercise in making money. Fortunately, Rayman Origins fits into the former category and is a game of great beauty clearly made as an expression of art and skill, rather than as a profitable product.
Rayman Origins takes Rayman back to his 2D roots, with Ubisoft opting for a traditional 2D platformer rather than a 3D platformer, which is the status quo these days. Origins is a simplistic game in terms of story and control design, but on every other level it excels in such a way that the final product is incredibly satisfying. The basic plot involves Rayman and his cohort of crazy sidekicks travelling to various worlds, rescuing Electoons and ‘bodacious Nymphs’, who have been captured by the evil Darktoons. Now these guys are under the control of a wicked old lady who got fed up with the incessant snoring of Rayman and co. Throughout the game, you will travel to widely varied mix of worlds and levels that can best be described as eclectic. While you visit your typical fare of ice, water and fire worlds, there are some gratifyingly weird ones, such as a level comprised entirely of kitchens from hell.
The platforming action is pretty much standard fare; you run, jump, and fight your way through the levels. You will also learn additional moves/techniques as you progress, such as the ability to fly and shrink. Controls are simply but extremely effective and intuitive. At the end of each level is a cage which you need to smash to free the enslaved Electoons. However, other cages can be found hidden throughout the levels and you are also awarded depending on the number of lums found. You can also reattempt levels in time attack mode, as well as earn trophies and medals . All in all, there are plenty of levels in the game and plenty of collectables to boot. You will play through most levels more than once anyway, just because the game is so wonderful to play and look at. Add to this the healthy dose of collectables and you have plenty of reasons to come back for more.
Added to the basic platforming levels are flying levels, where you saddle up in a large fly-like insect and shoot and suck your way through swarms of enemies. The game also includes a selection of boss fights, which include a range of strange beasts that are there to thwart your progress. Add to all this four player co-op play and you have a package that is an absolute blast to play.
While Origins certainly excels in terms of gameplay, the excellence does not stop there. Visually, the game is one of the most pleasing I have played in some time. The art design is brilliant, showcasing the many talents within the Ubisoft Montpellier team. It is bright, colourful, and beautifully animated. You almost feel as if you are engaging with a virtual cartoon at times. It oozes charm and has an element of zaniness in the general design of the characters and locales you will visit. To match this is an excellent soundtrack, made up of a diverse musical styles that are each suited well to the levels. The visual/sounds package as whole is impeccable, a credit to those involved in putting this game together.
It is possible to rave on and on about the quality of Origins, but it cannot be fully understood by words alone. To fully appreciate it, you must experience it yourself, I cannot recommend getting yourself a copy of Rayman: Origins highly enough. As of the 13th of December, 2011, Origins is averaging a critical review score of 92, just a mere one point under the absolutely brilliant (and on a side note, probably my favourite Zelda title) Skyward Sword. This is not same sort of aberration, Origins is just that good on all levels. It is the complete package and you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice if you overlooked this one.
A beautiful presented game with an artistic design that is bright, colourful, and wonderfully odd. Absolutely oozing with charm.
An intuitive platformer that is easy to pick up but can become devilishly hard later on. Great fun with friends too, who can jump in and out of the game with ease.
A diverse soundtrack that includes a myriad of different musical styles that are perfectly suited to the crazy Origins world.
Several different worlds made up of several levels each, in addition to bonus levels and a heap of collectibles/hidden cages to find. Add to this time attack mode and you have plenty of reasons to come back for more (it is just bloody fun as well).
vMost of are probably heavily focussed on Skyward Swords and Mario Kart 7 at this time, but Rayman Origins is easily just as good as these.