E3 2011: Rayman Origins

QUICKTAKE: Rayman Origins is a game that's easy to fall in love with. Quite possibly one of the most gorgeous 2D games ever made, Ubisoft's latest platformer offers four-player co-op and challenging level designs for one of the most purely satisfying experiences at E3.

BOOM video 9468

THE DEMO: Goodbye Rabbids, hello classic Rayman. At E3, I got a chance to play a few levels with two other co-op buddies. Rayman feels like a pretty standard platformer, armed with a short-ranged melee ability. Like New Super Mario Bros Wii before it, much of the fun comes from accidentally killing a friend, or managing to actually pull off a co-op move. At one point in the demo, a player jumped on another one, letting me jump on top the "man-made" platform, letting me reach a secret item otherwise impossible to reach. Ubisoft promises tons of hidden routes to find, and says that collecting all the missing "pieces of the Glade's history" will "reveal the truth behind Rayman’s origins."

DETAILS: There isn't much to say about Rayman Origins: it's a fun platformer that, if you haven't figured it out yet, is absolutely gorgeous. How many games actually get more beautiful the closer the camera zooms in? While its visuals are a strong selling point, the gameplay actually holds up quite well. The platforming is solid, letting you move through the environment with ease. Perhaps more enticingly, the levels are actually challenging, and encourage multiple plays. There are tons of secrets in each level, encouraging (up to four) players to keep an eye out for hidden passages, and reach for trickily placed coins.

The co-op is incredibly well done, taking all the best aspects of New Super Mario Bros Wii, and enhancing it with any-time drop-in/drop-out play. The game is quite challenging, featuring countless ways of dying. In co-op, when your character dies, he becomes an inflated balloon that can simply be popped by another player. Because of this vital addition, co-op is a must for Rayman Origins. And don't worry, no matter who you play with--Rayman, Globox, or a Teensie--your character is adorable and will feel alive.

When Rayman Origins was first announced, it was destined for XBLA and PSN. But does it justify being a full retail release? Certainly, there's no shortage of polish. Ubisoft is promising "over 60 levels" for the campaign, with new abilities to enable players to go back to older levels to discover new routes and secrets. And bosses! I didn't get to see any of them in action at the show floor, but it's clear that there's a lot of depth being added to the game. I can't wait to see the final product.

Watch the Shacknews E3 2011 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. You can also subscribe to it with your favorite RSS reader.