If you’re like me, sorry if you are, then you have been quite at odds with Ubisoft’s decision to take some side characters from a Rayman game and devote a new franchise to them, leaving the main dude hanging for close to a console generation. An age of nostalgia has since come to Ubi, and we have been given the return of another classic character with Rayman: Origins. Towards the end of this year’s E3, 3/4ths of the E-G team took up some 360 controllers to see if Generation Playstation could really go home again.
What first leaps out the screen and pimp-slaps you across the face is just how pretty Rayman: Origins is. Especially for players cornea-deep in gun-metal gray and brown for the past few months, the lush environments here explode with color. Granted, they are mostly sturdy backdrops with simple environmental foreground effects, but it is gorgeous to the point of distraction. In fact, that’s the biggest point of detraction from this new Rayman experience: all the eye candy tends to clump characters into a dense cloud, even with their amusingly expressive models. For those looking to play co-op with more than two players, the game adds a couple layers of difficulty when you have to force your eyes into uncomfortably sifting through various limbs.
Speaking of co-op, Origins supports up to four players in drop in/out multiplayer, and in those terms the game’s platforming and pixy collecting action is nice and fluid. Like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, friendly punches can send your allies into lava pits and enemy attacks. Unlike that game, the difficulty curve for multiple players is decidedly in the easier range. Also unlike Mario Bros. Wii, there is a noted lack of amusement in offing your co-patriots, mainly because doing so will you usually get yourself killed soon after. Trying to restore your downed teammates as their bubbled corpses float about the screen brings back some seriously unwanted Yoshi’s Island memories too. Rayman does mix up the coop-etition formula a bit with a few moments of mandatory cooperative platforming, most of the time forming a human ladder.
Whether in groups or solo, ledge hopping in Origins is respectively tight and responsive. Dispatching ground foes with a bit of fisticuffs isn’t quite up to modern snuff, which is odd considering how aerial combos can be pulled off with much less irritation. Thankfully, most of the gameplay does work to the controls’ favor, with a vast majority of the demo splaying out into multiple tiers for the hopping onto. Sadly, we didn’t get much of a narrative perspective during our time with the game, which made the non-Rayman characters seem incredibly odd in their unexplained appearances. But we quickly forgave all that when we saw the titular limbless dude’s rocking bangs.
It’s still hard to believe how gorgeous Rayman: Origins is. Hopefully those gamers more focused than us will be able to enjoy the sweet action-platforming, even if they are forced to pixel hunt their characters out of mobile mosh-pits. Rayman: Origins is coming out this Fall for PC, Playstation 3, PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Wii, and 360.