Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rayman Origins: Hands-On First Impressions

Chris Linendoll jumps into the gorgeous 2D world of Rayman for a sneak peek!

Rayman Origins is a game that is fated to be overlooked this holiday season. Releasing on November 15th, Ubisoft has decided that Rayman can stand toe-to-toe with Modern Warfare 3, Assassin's Creed, Skyrim, and every other major release this holiday. Right... Now I don't have nearly as long and illustrious a relationship with platformers as Zack Keyes does. But getting him to write anything in a timely manner is like squeezing blood from a stone, so I'll be handling this preview. Expect Zack to have the full write-up finished sometime in 2012.

The recent Rayman Origins demo that dropped on XBox LIVE includes three levels, each with their own unique play style. From the moment you boot it up, the striking art style of Rayman blows you away. The soft color palette, combined with the masterful use of shadows and lighting makes Rayman look like a hand animated cartoon. The engine powering Rayman Origins has been dubbed the UbiArt Framework, and hopefully it will have a long and successful run, because it is really great.

The demo allows you to select the character you wish to play as, Mario 2-style, although it didn't seem to me that there was much difference between the way the characters handled. I played as Rayman himself, and also as a blue guy Wikipedia tells me is a teensie. That sounds kind of demeaning. The characters themselves are rendered superbly, with great animation and colorful designs.

The most time I ever spent with a platformer was Disney's Aladdin for the Sega Genesis. That game featured smooth animation, fluid graphics, and terrific sound design. All of this could also be said for Rayman Origins. Within the first 15 minutes I spent with Origins, I honestly said out loud "Holy shit! This feels just like Aladdin!" I'm not a proud man, see. The jumping feels precise with just the right amount of float you would expect from a cartoony platformer. The ground control is responsive, and you never feel like your character is getting away from you.

The graphical presentation is really what Origins prides itself on, and it's easy to see why. The levels are gorgeous, and the music is amazingly catchy. The little tune the Electoons sing is the cutest goddamn thing I've ever heard. And I have a toddler.

While I don't want to get too far into the game, and step on Zack's review-toes, I DO wanna say that the third level, Murray of the Sea, is a godless bitch. Seriously. Water levels are hard enough, and when you're being chased, it's even bullshit-er. Fuck that level in its' stupid face.

Review's all yours, Zack!

Christopher Linendoll really hates water levels. He can be reached via Twitter, or found in the hummus section of your local grocery store.

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