Platform: PS3, X-Box 360, Wii
Okay, confession time. I had largely forgotten about this game in the recent glut of top tier titles and had thought the series had been doomed since the Rabbids spin-offs proved so successful. Besides I was never a big Rayman fan to begin with. After playing Origins I can now say: What the hell was I thinking! My short-list for game of the year has had a last minute dark horse entry.
Origins is a 2d platformer playable as a single player or co-op with up to 4 people. Unlike a number of co-op titles, Rayman is a blast with or without friends. The game should remind more seasoned gamers of the 16bit era and, in my case, of the better Disney games on the Mega Drive and SNES. As it progresses the game does have some very tricky sections (particularly if you wish to have 100% level completion) but generous check-points stops it from ever being too harsh.
For all its traditional gameplay style, Rayman feels modern and unique. This is in no small part to the excellent character design, music score and levels. This game is stunning. Not simply the 'looks good for still frame from magazine features' type of stunning, but levels which are gorgeous because not a thing is out of place. Everything from character movement to music cues, I found it all perfect and it is a huge credit to the new UbiArt Framework and the designers.
There are some minor quibbles. To continue beyond some check points you need a certain amount of Electoons collected from previous levels. This can force the player(s) into replaying levels just to get a few extra points. As there is already plenty of unlockables to encourage repeat exploration, this seems unnecessary and sometimes makes replaying a chore rather than a challenge. Also, for a game so interestingly designed, there is some repetition. For example, the first level of a world always features a rescue a buxom fairy to gain a new power, the last involves you flying an aerial battle to the next section and all levels end with the same animation. I found these points charming and a welcome sight, others may tire of them. Finally, as good a platformer as it is, there are those who simply will never be willing to consider this as anything but a kids game and Rayman will most certainly not change their mind. Their loss though, and hardly the games fault.
In conclusion, with some minor flaws (even if very few of them) I was initially reluctant to give this game a full 5 stars until this occurred to me: when I played Rayman I was reminded of how it felt to play a computer game what I was twelve. That is one of the highest complements I can ever give a game.
Rent or buy: Buy
Reviewed by: JP Gallagher