Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rayman Origins Review

Gameplay (7/10): Origins is a truly solid 2D platformer; the controls are tight, the level design is very good, and the mutliplayer works well without annoying your fellow players. As with any 2D platformer, the level design is the key to its gameplay design, and Origins succeeds in having great level design, but with a catch. The level design in Origins is very linear, as a result, once you've played through it once, you've seen all it has to offer. Other notable platformers also have this design, such as the Donkey Kong Country, but the difference is how Origins is a platformer designed for speed, as a result there is one true route through each level. As a result, unlike games like Donkey Kong Country Returns where levels are filled to the brim with platforms and obstacles, Origins levels are rather open and have fewer obstacles. The problem that arises from this is that replaying levels holds little satisfaction, as you've seen most of it. And while there are collectibles to find in each level, they are usually never too difficult to find. Time trials are available, but can often be frustrating due to the requirement to restart them if you die, which brings up Origins other gameplay flaw: difficulty. While Origins does provide the player with unlimited lives, death is a common occurance due to one-hit kills and a high difficulty. This factor, however, never becomes too frustrating except for areas where the checkpoint may be far back (which is not frequent). Overall, the gameplay is solid and provides a lot of fun the first time through, but afterwards, its all familiar and the fun is cut in half.

Graphics (6/10): Origins graphics have a lot of color to them, which is aided by the fact that it's in 2D. However, there are problems. For instance, the camera for the game is zoomed out quite a bit, which was done in order to help 4 players play simultaneously without anyone getting lost, but as a result, the graphics lose a lot of their detail. Also, the art direction of the game is quite impressive, however, there isn't too much content to the graphics, as shown by the around a dozen different enemy types, and only 6 different types of areas with not much variation in each. The biggest problem with the graphics is how the sprites animate: poorly. Origins looks like a very pretty flash game, or to put it bluntly: Origins looks cheap. All the sprites animate as if on hinges, and there are not many animation frames for any particular sprite, not even for the playable characters. The overall result is that the art direction and color works well for the game, but the animation for the sprites aren't particularly impressive, especially with much more impressive looking 2D games availible, particularly those made by Vanillaware. The lack of quality in the sprites is disappointing particularly because Ubisoft is a huge company with a lot of money, so I see no excuse why their game doesn't have the same quality as Vanillaware's games, a company with only 21 employees.

Music (6.5/10): Origins has some unorthodox and catchy tunes played throughout the game; the only problem is that there aren't very many of them.

Story (n/a): There is basically no story to Origins other than a beginning cutscene that sets up the action. However, this counts against the game because Ubisoft said in multiple interviews that there would be some type of over-arching story to the game; they also hyped it up quite a bit. So for the game to have no story at all was quite disappointing.

Replay Value (5/10): As stated before, the levels aren't much fun after the initial run and getting the medals, especially if they are particularly difficult levels. Also, the experience factor of the game isn't very strong, unlike DKC levels, so really all Origins has going for it is its gameplay which, as previously, stated gets old after a while. The multiplayer factor helps the replay value though.

Satisfaction (5.5/10): On its initial run-through, there's a lot to enjoy in Origins. Getting all of the medals, doing time-trials, and unlocking the secret world is a lot of fun, but doing all of this actually doesn't take up a lot of time, and when its all over, it really doesn't feel like there's anything left to do. The levels are fun because of their challenge, but when there's nothing to work for, the game just feels finished; which was quite disappointing. Level design isn't as good as Donkey Kong Country Returns, but it was still nice while it lasted.


The score I should give it - (7/10): Rayman Origins is a fine 2D platformer with very good level design, nice graphics, and music; it simply doesn't feel like it deserves its $60 price tag with its small amount of content (only in comparison to other 2D platformers though) and less-than-stellar graphics.

The score I want to give it - (6/10): Rayman Origins was a nice and challenging good time, but when it was over, I had no more desire to play it. And the game was over rather quickly, which simply made me regret paying $60 for it. I would have been much more satisfied with the game if it was cheaper, as it lacks enough content to really measure up to the DKC platformers. Also, as a lover of 2D graphics, I was disappointed by Origins' graphics, as they really lacked animation and looked just a small level above the flash games one finds on the internet. Overall, a fine game, but over too quickly, and not in a good way.

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