Platform: Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, PlayStation Vita
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Platform Reviewed On: Wii U
Have you ever personally undergone a love-at-first-site moment with a game?
If you haven’t, the best way to describe it is there really isn’t a definitive description. Like a loud sneeze in the quietest of rooms, it sneaks up on you unexpectedly. It may startle you at first, but within the next split second, your mind is at ease from the relaxing sensation.
I instantly felt this back in November 2011 when Ubisoft released one of the most unexpected surprises in my gaming history: Rayman Origins.
I had watched a fair share of videos regarding Rayman Origins leading up to its launch because platformers are one of my favorite genres in gaming, and I was quite fond of Rayman 2: The Great Escape from the Nintendo 64 era. When I received my Gamefly envelope with Origins enclosed, my only expectations were for it to be a game I would enjoy over the weekend. But when the opening cutscene shows Rayman and pals sleeping on one of the Snoring Tree’s limbs and I was able to witness its unrivaled art style on my PlayStation 3 in high definition, I instantly fell in love with the game before I had even made my first leap with the X button.
My feelings were confirmed the more I played Origins. The platforming is fine-tuned to perfection in terms of level design and controls, the visuals are a marvel in every conceivable way on an HD screen, it’s a blast to play with friends, the soundtrack defines delight and it’s packed full with wacky humor.
With all things said, you can only imagine my excitement when the first trailer for Rayman Legends was accidentally leaked in late April 2012.
Aside from no online co-op, Rayman Origins is a near-perfect game in my eyes, so how is it possible for Ubisoft to make a better game? Simply put; they release Rayman Legends.
While Rayman and pals are in a deep sleep, the Nightmares arise and overtake the vast lands. Now it’s up to Rayman to put the Nightmares on a permanent nap by traveling to various worlds and slapping his foes silly – sometimes literally.
Aside from a minor improvement or two, not much has changed with Legend’s gameplay since its predecessor, but it does in no way subtract from the flawless 2D platforming. Whether it’s the timed Invasion mode, enthralling 3D boss fights, musical stages and a whole lot more, levels are crafted to the point where it’s nearly an art form to figure out how to speed through without stopping because of how well the level design flows. Combine that with tight, precise platforming controls, and I would argue Legends is better than most, if not all 2D Mario titles. This isn’t something I say lightly, and it’s also coming from a Mario fan who honestly hasn’t lost a shred of interest in the games. It’s that good.
Fresh to the Origins series are Murfy escort missions. Using the GamePad’s touchscreen, Murfy will assist either a lone AI-controlled character or up to four other human players. You will manipulate the game’s surroundings from moving platforms to cutting ropes for access to hidden areas, and yes, even tickling enemies to allow players to land a decisive strike. These missions are loads of fun, and even better when you have your buddies or family bask in the entertainment with you. However, the only problem in the entire games lies within the AI-controlled character you must escort if you’re playing solo. Half the time, the AI will surprise you with how smart it can be, but other times you’ll be dumbfounded with its actions. The AI can jump over a gap better than most human players strive to, but if I “fail” to maneuver certain parts of the environment perfectly, it won’t make the effort to jump over a spiked object one-inch off the ground. There’s also no way to make the AI turn around if you notice a detour as well.
Still, Murfy missions are only a fraction of what Legends has to offer, and although I am normally one to take the lone wolf route when it comes to games, this is one you will want to play with friends. It wasn’t necessarily frustrating in Origins, but it was too chaotic to enjoy with others at times. Legends has corrected this issue by making it more accessible, particularly by putting on “friendly fire” with the challenges.
If the perfect platforming somehow doesn’t satisfy your gaming craves, the breathtaking visuals will easily catch your eye. Somehow, Ubisoft has managed to create a product more drop-dead gorgeous than Origins. With improved lighting effects, vivid colors, detailed textures in the environments and a buttery frame rate, I challenge anyone who says video games can’t be a form of art to look at Legends on an HD display and defend their stance. I wasn’t even able to fully experience Legend’s aesthetics, as my TV has a max display setting at 1080i. Anyone with a set up that can display Legends at brimming 1080p picture; prepare to overdose your eyes with beauty.
Even if you blast through the five worlds to technically beat the game’s story, it’ll still take you several hours to complete, but even then, Legends is addicting enough to where you’ll want to do more than the bare minimum. If you’re an achievement or trophy junkie or simply a completionist, you’ll have your work cut out for you. The game will not only challenge your skills, but collecting all 700 Teensies, acquiring all playable characters, getting all of the creatures through lucky scratch tickets, unlocking the Back to Origins levels – a collection of dozens of remastered levels from Rayman Origins – earning the in-game trophies from Lum-collecting, and finally, the daily and weekly challenges with regular and extreme difficulties, Legends easily makes its $60 asking price worth its weight in pennies. The games is amazing enough to where you’ll feel compelled to play more.
The amount of content in Legends is astounding, and part of it is thanks to the game’s roughly six month delay. Ubisoft didn’t have to add extra content due to the stalled release, but I bestow them several rounds of applause for the extra effort, as it only further extends the adornment of the game.
Complementing the game’s general light-hearted appeal is a once-again amazing and relaxing soundtrack. The musical levels alone, which remake classic rock songs such as Eye of the Tiger in a zanier, Rayman tone, can only be played by completing each world’s main levels, but it is worth the journey in every sense.
I cannot stress enough how everyone – whether you frequently play games or not – should own Rayman Legends. It improves upon an already near-perfect game by providing a progressive balance of difficulty, a plethora of replay value, miraculously improved art style, continuously fruitful soundtrack and perfect platforming in its level design and controls. Sure, the Murfy segments can sometimes spawn frustrating feelings with its dim-witted AI, but the game’s positive aspects are enough to eradicate this intermittent problem. There may not be any online co-op, but the challenges make up for its absence. If there’s at least one game you should instantly buy this year, I would safely say it should be Rayman Legends. Whether you own a Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Vita (despite it missing 28 levels), you owe it to yourself to try such a marvelous title at least once.
- Perfect platformer in level design and controls
- Magnificent art style
- Staggering replay value
- Joyful soundtrack and musical levels
- Fine-tuned balance in difficulty progression
- Sometimes dumb A.I. in Murfy segments
Robbie Key is a reviews & news editor for Analog Addiction, entertainment editor for the Pine Log newspaper at Stephen F. Austin State University, news editor for Worlds Factory and blogger for IGN. Follow his completely relevant Twitter updates, watch his awesomtacular YouTube videos, and view his LinkedIn profile.