E3 2011: Rayman Origins Hands-On

E3 2011: Rayman Origins Hands-On

Rayman: Origins made a small appearance at last year’s E3, and since then no one’s heard much about it, except that it was going to once again be designed by the original creator, Michel Ancel. Ubisoft finally managed to have some playable material at this year’s E3, and while it looked gorgeous and played decently, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been there before.

Not much has changed about Origins since last year; just about the only major thing is that it’s now a full retail title as opposed to downloadable. According to Ubisoft’s Loic Gounon, many of the designers just had so much material and creative assets that they had to up the content of the game and create a full-blown production.

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And creative it is; Rayman Origins is bursting with some amazing artwork and even more bizarre level design. Ancel has managed to create an organic world that’s nonetheless equally full of unconventional, out-of-this-world level design. Things like beetle waterfalls and singing bees are commonplace in Origins, and it really makes the game a joy to play.

Unfortunately, of what I played, there just wasn’t enough ingenuity or originality in the gameplay itself to be much more than a pretty game. Rayman Origins is a co-op platformer, and while that’s good and all, it doesn’t really offer any new features or ideas that weren’t already tackled by New Super Mario Bros Wii. Yeah, you can bounce on your friends’ heads, just like NSMBWii. Yeah, when you die you become a balloon that you can move around and the other players must pop, exactly like NSMBWii.

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The settings and background art are magnificent, but the actual levels themselves aren’t designed to maximize the gameplay and make the platforming actually fun. Rayman Origins is a game I desperately want to like, but unfortunately, just based on my playtime alone, I’m not sure I’ll be making the plunge when it hits the 360, PS3, and the Wii later this fall.