Rayman Legends - PS3 Review
When I first started playing video games platform titles were prevalent. Sonic the Hedgehog was perhaps the first game I truly fell in love with. Platform games then fell out of favour for a while, before games like the original Rayman and Crash Bandicoot put them back on the map in the mid-90s. Of those three franchises Rayman has the least name recognition, but itís also the only one still going strong. Futuregamez.net's head honcho Dave is one of Rayman's biggest fans, but he allowed me to take a look at the latest entry in the series; Rayman Legends. Just quietly, Iím glad he did.
|Rayman Legends is a gorgeous game.|
In Rayman Legends the Glade of Dreams is once again under threat, and its Teensie inhabitants are being kidnapped. Naturally itís up to Rayman, Globox and a host of their friends to save the Glade of Dreams and the adorable Teensieís.
The story may be light, but the action definitely isnít. Rayman Legends features over 100 levels, a big jump from the 60-odd available in Origins, making this the biggest game in the series so far. Just like in Origins you can select to play as a hero other than Rayman, but the list of available characters has grown significantly. Thereís Rayman, Globox, a Teensie king, a goth Teensie and Sir Globrax Ė a famous night apparently, though he looks anything but. There are more than twenty-five other characters to unlock as well, meaning youíre spoilt for choice.
|It's great to see a quality platform game in 2013.|
In Origins Rayman unlocked new abilities as he progressed, but here he starts with a full set of abilities. He can walk, run, jump, glide, attack, do a slam attack, hang off objects, swing on ropes, wall jump and much more. The game does a fantastic job of introducing you to these different moves over time, rather than forcing you to come to grips with them straight away.
The game starts off gently with an opening level akin to Sonicís Green Hill Zone which has you doing little more than running over picturesque grass-covered hills. Cute little creatures known as Lums are common throughout each level and collecting them earns you various rewards such as gold, silver or bronze awards, lucky tickets and access to those locked heroes we mentioned above.
|Rayman Legends is a 4-player game.|
Along with Lums there are a number of Teensieís to find in each level. Finding all the Teensieís is a major goal in each level because it is only by finding enough of them that you unlock more levels. Sometimes they are easy to find Ė they might be in a cage in plain sight for example - while others are off the beaten track and require some finding. There is a king and queen Teensie to find in most levels and these guys are always tucked away in a hidden room youíll have to search at least a little bit to find. There will be a small challenge in each of these rooms that you must complete to free the king or queen, and while the challenges are never too taxing they provide an entertaining break from the rest of the level.
While Rayman Legends is undoubtedly a platform game, not every level is platform-based. Just like Origins before it, Rayman Legends breaks up the action with some side-scrolling shoot Ďem up levels (Raymanís mosquito friend is back). Other levels have you fighting or avoiding some of the best-looking bosses in recent platform-game memory. Thereís a mechanical laser-breathing dragon, a hand made up of darkness, and a massive masked luchador to name just a few.
|Better move quick to get away from this enemy.|
To go along with that variety, each chapter introduces new mechanics and challenges for the player to get their head around. In the first level youíre re-introduced to your flying pal Murfy who can do a variety of things to help Rayman out, such as poke monsters in the eye to make them retreat out of Raymanís way, or maybe tickle an enemy to make him reveal a weak spot. Murfy can also cut down spiked logs or move platforms when requested. All in all heís a handy pal to have around.
Later chapters have you gliding on gusts of wind, or swimming through mine-infested water, or perhaps being shrunk to roughly a tenth of your original size. All of these situations require you to come to grips with new controls and master slightly different techniques, and that ensures each new chapter is a breath of fresh air, while also adding complexity to the actions required to succeed.
The final level in each chapter has a musical nature. In these levels the screen moves at a set speed and itís up to you to keep up with it. The advantage of this approach is that the developers can make it so that every action you take blends in perfectly (or close to) with the music. Every object you smash might be in time with a cymbal-clash for example, or perhaps that jump pad that sent you flying through the air matches with a guitar riff. These levels are great fun, especially if you survive long enough to hear much of the song in a single life.
|Bright, colourful, gorgeous. Rayman rocks!|
As if all that werenít enough, some levels are occasionally Ďinvadedí. Invasions are basically second takes on a particular level, but this time around the level is timed. To get gold on these maps you must complete them in less than forty seconds, though there are silver and bronze awards if you crack 50 or 60 seconds respectively. As you play youíll also unlock over forty remastered levels from Rayman OriginsÖ So yeah, you wonít be rushing through Rayman Legends in a hurry thatís for sure.
Once again Rayman Legends supports drop-in, drop-out co-op support for up to four players. Though I only tried it with up to three players I can confirm that co-op is a lot of fun. It can be hard to see exactly where you are at times, and levels that require precision jumping are tough in multiplayer, but itís worth the effort. In most co-op games all players are required to stay on the same screen or face an unfortunate death. Thatís not the case here Ė if a player goes off-screen here they became inflated like a balloon and can re-join the action as soon one of the other players touches them. Itís an effective system that allows for a bit more freedom and a plenty of fun.
|We'd suggest you keep away from the fire!|
Unfortunately you canít invite an online buddy to join your game, but there is a Challenge section where you compete against players from all over the world. There are daily and weekly challenges, as well as Extreme daily and weekly challenges that are significantly tougher. The challenges vary, but include things like collecting a target number of Lums as fast as you can, or running the furthest you can before taking any damage. The fact that challenges update daily means keen players will always have something new to do, which is another big tick.
There are a few other things we havenít mentioned yet, like collecting creatures via lucky tickets, the multiplayer game of Kung Foot (i.e. Rayman soccer), but these are minor things that donít add a whole lot to the overall package. Theyíre there though, and that must count for something.
|Character design is superb.|
As far as issues go, I had to work hard to find any. The only obvious one I could find is that your pal Murfy will sometimes perform the wrong action for you, i.e. he might move a platform instead of cutting a rope when those two objects are close together. This is only an issue in levels that move at a set speed making each action time-sensitive.
The second issue is similar Ė on a couple of occasions late in the game some jumping pads sent me way over/past the next jump pad resulting in instant death. This would be totally forgivable except for the fact that it was happening right at the end of a lengthy and taxing section of jumps, and it happened multiple times. Other than these two issues, and believe me when I say they are minor, itís extremely hard to fault Rayman Legends.
Itís hard to know which is the better aspect of the game Ė the fantastic level design, or the superb visuals. Iím going to go with the visuals, but only just. According to Eurogamerís Face-Off article (avaialble here), Rayman Legends runs at 60 frames per second at 1080p resolution throughout. The end result is an incredibly smooth performance that is a joy to behold.
|Rayman - just hanging around.|
At times the game sends Rayman 'into' the level, giving them a more 3D feel, and some objects, mostly bosses, can move from the background into the foreground adding to the effect even more. The screenshots should give you an excellent idea of the visual style of the game, and it looks even better in motion. The cutesy-visuals add a lot to the overall experience and Michael Ancel and co. should feel rightly proud of their accomplishments.
The music is routinely cheerful, and like the visuals it helps set a tone for the game that works extremely well. Thereís a huge amount of variety in the music, much of which is performed by an orchestra from Macedonia if I read the credits correctly. Along with those tunes there are songs in there that reminded me of Harry Potter, the original Batman TV series and Mission Impossible among others. The musical levels are wonderfully executed, while the sound effects are whimsical in nature, suiting the tone of the game perfectly.
|Better move quick, the wall of fire approaches.|
Platform games may be dying out, but if the result of that trend is that the few platform games we get are of this quality (or Super Mario Galaxy), then itís a trend I can live with. Rayman Legends is a top-notch game that would be the perfect introduction to video games for younger kids. Thatís not to say this game is for kids, far from it Ė anyone who enjoys games will likely have a lot of fun with this. Just like Dave before me, I have become a Rayman fan and suggest you do yourself a favour and check this game out.
Review By: Mike Allison
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|GRAPHICS||The visuals are a delight to behold, and the fact it all runs at 60 frames per second is icing on the cake. A step up from the beautiful Rayman Origins if you can believe it.||92%|
|SOUND||The cheerful and upbeat music sets the tone almost as well as the visuals, and the sound effects are excellent too.||90%|
|GAMEPLAY||The level design is flawless, and thereís plenty of variety across the game. I canít think of a single level I didnít enjoy, and I was never once bored.||92%|
|VALUE||Over 100 levels and a ton of unlockables, Rayman Legends passes the value test with flying colours.||85%|
|OVERALL||Rayman Legends is a game everyone will enjoy, and itís absolutely perfect for kids, with a gentle difficulty curve and amazing visuals and sound. Add this to your collection now.||90%|