Rayman Legends: Pure Platforming Goodness
Playstation 3, Vita
The Rayman franchise began as a 2D platformer, then shifted to 3D. Following those outings were a slew of spin-off games starring the Raving Rabbids- some worthwhile, most not so much. There wasn’t a true entry in the franchise for many years, that is until Rayman Origins came about in 2011. As its name implies, that game took Rayman back to its roots and embraced the classic platforming style. Origins was universally praised by fans and press, and sold just well enough to warrant a sequel. And thank goodness for that: Rayman Legends is an incredible game.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Legends is gorgeous. Like Origins before it, the game is built on the UbiArt Framework, which allows the developers to really focus on creating great art and implementing it into the game. Think back to all of those great pieces of concept art you’ve seen. Really great stuff, right? But the game never seems to look quite as stylistic. Rayman Legends is the exception: it looks like living, breathing artwork. The colors are vibrant, the character designs are brilliant, and the action is silky smooth. Adding to this is the wide variety of stage themes, ranging from ancient Greece to Dia de los Muertos. The team at Ubisoft Montpellier has done a world class job of showcasing how games can stray away from the “realistic” graphics and still have beautiful, eye-catching art direction.
The gameplay is largely unchanged from Origins. You’ll jump, slide, kick, hover, and punch your way through a large number of levels by way what can only be described as pure platforming. The level design is done just right: the game is never too hard, but hard enough to keep players coming back for more. The icing on the cake is the return of the co-op mode, where players can play through the stages together. Legends is very accommodating, allowing players to “save” the other players in the event that something goes wrong. Frequent checkpoints also keep the challenging platforming from being painful when played with a newbie. The most difficult passages in the game are the new “Invaded” levels, where players race through familiar stages, fighting against the clock with no checkpoints.
There’s also a collection aspect to drive players to continue playing. There are 700 “teensies” hidden throughout the stages that need to be rescued. To complete a level, players will have to rescue all teensies and amass a certain number of points by collecting “lums”. Player’s will also have the task of unlocking new characters, monsters and costumes, as well as “Back to Origins” stages (which account for 260 teensies themselves). Finally, there is a soccer mini-game for multiple players that’s way more fun than it probably should be. If you’re not getting the idea yet, this game is loaded with content!
While our main platform of choice for Rayman Legends was the PS3, we also had the opportunity to get our hands on the Vita version, which was originally suspected of being the so-called “definitive” version of the game. Remember- this game was originally designed for the WiiU, and featured a lot of touch integration. The Vita version reflects this, substituting touch controls for button presses. This dramatically alters how some levels are played, particularly the “Murphy” levels, where Rayman is assisted by the fairy-like frog. On PS3, players control Rayman, and activate Murphy’s powers to change the level by pressing circle. But on the Vita, players take control of Murphy via touch on those same levels, while the AI takes control of Rayman. Personally I preferred the ability to control both characters on PS3, but it’s really just a matter of preference. Both methods are well implemented.
The dagger to the heart that prevented the Vita version of the game from being the very best was the exclusion of the “Invaded” levels. The Vita does have five exclusive Murphy levels, which appeared to have come at the expense of the nearly thirty “Invaded” levels. Not a great trade off. Fortunately, Ubisoft has remedied this by saying that the missing levels will be patched in at a later date. Phew. So, at launch the Vita will be gimped a few levels. But post-patch, it will be the most “complete” version of the game out there.
Rayman Legends is a phenomenal platforming experience, whether you’re playing it alone or with friends. We had a great time with both versions of the game, and truly appreciated the great artwork, crafty level design, attention to detail, and copious amounts of content. We can’t recommend the game highly enough. It’s an ode to all things that were and are so great about the world of video games.