E3 2011 Impressions: Rayman Origins (Sony PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii)

Ubisoft showed off Rayman Origins at their booth at E3 2011, and it’s turning out to be an epic new HD 2D platformer for later in 2011.

Originally, Rayman Origins was to feature a robust level editor, but at this point that has been scrapped for the game (the developers reportedly will use those tools to generate the levels in the game).

Instead, the focus is on a polished and detailed 2D platformer, spread over more than 60 levels, with a co-focus on old school fan service and new-style multiplayer mayhem. Taking a page from New Super Mario Brothers Wii, Rayman Origins allows up to four players to play simultameously, taking control of Rayman, Globox or one of the “Tinsies” (or Toads of the Rayman universe).

The E3 2011 demo showed off a variety of levels, mostly focused on the Jungle-type look and feel of the early Rayman 1 levels. Later there were also fire-style levels as well, with other archetypal level types planned as well, like ice, etc.

The graphics were the highlight, with lush and high resolution 2D graphics bursting with color and life. The characters themselves are ultra detailed and animate constantly. The environments are equally impressive, using a broad color palette and some neat effects, including some impressive water effects.

Gameplay is 2D platforming, with jump and attack as the primary actions. The characters can attack enemies, the environment or even each other – feeling much like a game of New Super Mario Bros. Wii in execution. When one player dies, he becomes a floating bubble that another player can pop and restore the dead player.

Each level can be passed by doing the bare minimum, but advanced players can find hidden rooms and collectibles, unlocking new levels and more advanced areas. For novice players, these extra levels will reportedly be made available as DLC, although that is still to be finalized.

While it was disappointing to learn that the user-generated level editor and associated community will not be a part of Rayman Origins, the actual game is looking to be large and impressive. It’s definitely a good time for old school 2D platform fans who love traditional series being modernized with HD 2D.

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