Rayman Origins PS Vita Review
The Vita had an unusual launch. The actual day of launch lineup was fantastic, containing titles like Uncharted, Wipeout and Fifa. Since the console’s release however, there has been a severe lack of new content. It was in this gap that I found myself picking up Rayman Origins; A game I had already played quite a lot on the PS3. I was skeptical that the Vita would be able to accurately showcase the incredible hand drawn visuals and jaw dropping audio found in the high def console version’s of the game. I was, to put it bluntly, proven wrong…
For the uninitiated, Rayman Origins is a 2D side-scrolling platformer developed by Ubisoft and serves as a sequel of sorts (despite the games title) to the popular Rayman franchise. Rayman Origins uses a new graphics framework called Ubi-Art to provide incredibly beautiful characters and environments; these are animated to perfection and do well to serve as a showcase for the power of Ubi-Art. The gameplay is pretty straight forward and sees the player progressing from right to left (or left to right) through levels, taking on enemies, collecting lums and doing the usual platformer fare. It’s the sheer level of polish and masterful game design that has Rayman Origins stand out from the crowd.
The game takes place after the events of previous Rayman games and the Origin in the games title merely alludes to the return of Raymans traditional 2D platforming gameplay. To the best of my knowledge, Rayman and his buddies were snoring and woke up some crazy witch, who has kidnapped a whole bunch of fairies … or something like that. Plot is definitely not the main focus of this game, however the cutscenes are entertaining and beautifully animated, thus serving their purpose well.
The visuals come across exceptionally well on the Vita’s 5” OLED screen. Colours struck me as more vivid than even playing the PS3 version on my 50” Sony Bravia TV. The OLED screen gave a real sense of depth and the range of layers used seemed even more incredible when playing on the smaller screen size. The only issue is that sometimes the game zooms out to a wide angle view; this worked great on the console iterations (especially with their multiplayer component) but on the 5” screen, I often found my eyes losing track of the small character sprite when this occurred… This usually meant subsequent death during many of the games later chase scenes.
The Audio in Rayman Origins is also exceptional. The game features a unique soundtrack, full of playful world music and delicious sound effects. On the Vita, the speakers do a good job of handling the nuances of the audio in the game, but I would definitely reccommend playing with a good set of headphones, where possible. The sound effects in Rayman Origins do a great job of relating feedback to the player, whether sliding on slopes, bouncing on enemies or my personal favourite: The Teensies charge attack sound. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but laugh my ass off.
There is ton’s of content in Rayman Origins so don’t expect to get bored anytime soon. If anything it reminds me of Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, in that each level has a bunch of reasons for the player to return. There are also extra unlock-able stages which see Rayman chasing a treasure chest through the level as the environment collapses around him. These levels are incredibly challenging, but also visually stunning and a whole heap of fun, to boot.
This has all been increidbly positive right; I mean, I’m sure you saw the score already, this has to have a drawback somewhere – It’s clearly not perfect. The big problem with Rayman Origins on the Vita is that it loses one of the most important elements of its console counterparts. Multiplayer. Multiplayer is part of what made Rayman Origins on PS3 and Xbox such an awesome experience. It became a New Super Marios Bros Wii competitor; you’d sometimes aid your friends and sometimes you’d bop on their head to clear a gap and send them to their demise. It rocked, basically!
The thing is, in Rayman Origins on the Vita if you had never played the multiplayer version, you still feel like it’s lacking.. something. It’s missing that extra element to make it a near perfect experience. It’s like the overall game design was done with multiplayer in mind, all the way through and when the game was transferred to the Vita, losing the multiplayer, a large chunk of what made the initial design’s so good was lost. Thats not to say the game design and level design isn’t good, it’s actually great. It just… feels like it’s always missing something is all.
The other slight negative when talking about Rayman Origins Vita, is that it doesn’t really try to make any great use, of the Vita specific functionality. You can tap the lums on the front touchscreen to catch them instead of just running into them, but this is something I found myself barely using as it seemed difficult to achieve while holding the console and seemed to be tacked on as opposed to be essential to the design. There was plenty of room for Vita specific gameplay elements in the flying sections of the game, or even as a means to zoom in and out the camera manually, but this went unused. While this is a minor grievance for me, I understand that many people who bought a Vita would like to see it’s abilities utilized.
As stated above the game boasts a wealth of content, looks amazing, sounds beautiful and even with the lack of multiplayer on this platform, I cannot truly fault it. Rayman Origins is a challenger to Nintendos’s mustachioed hero, who as of late hasn’t seen much competition. The game is insanely likeable, in almost every way and if you have a Vita I would strongly suggest checking it out.