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February 25, 2014
Rayman Legends - PS4 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
21/2/2014UbisoftUbisoftUbisoft Montpellier12-4
Media HDD Install Resolution Touchpad PS4 Exclusive OFLC Rating

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Rayman Legends; bright, colourful, and very fun.
Rayman has been a favourite franchise of mine ever since the first game on PSOne way back in 1995 and while the franchise moved to 3D gameplay to keep up with Nintendo's Mario in recent years Ubisoft's Rayman has returned to its 2D roots, and the results have been fantastic. Rayman Legends is the latest release and while we saw the PS3 version last year, we now have the next-gen version - so have Ubisoft made significant changes or improvments on an already fantastic title? Read on...
(Note: As this game is nigh on identical to the PS3 version I have recycled some of Michael's original review - albeit with some of my own thoughts in the remixed paragraphs).

Sadly, we actually found the story in Rayman Legends one of the weakest aspects but for those interested it's as follows...
Rayman, Globox, and the Teensies are off wandering through an enchanted forest when they discover a mysterious tent filled with a series of captivating paintings. As they look more closely, they notice each painting seems to tell the story of a mythical world. While focusing on a painting that shows a medieval land, they are suddenly sucked into the painting, entering the world, and the adventure begins.

The story may be light, but the action definitely isn’t. 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. There’s Rayman, Globox, a Teensie king, a goth Teensie and Sir Globrax – a famous night apparently, though he looks anything but. There are more than twenty-five other characters to unlock as well, meaning you’re spoilt for choice.

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A dragon makes off with a caged Teensie!
In Rayman 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 Sonic’s 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.

Along with Lums there are a number of Teensie’s to find in each level. Finding all the Teensie’s 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 – 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 you’ll 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.

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Things are starting to get batty!
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 ‘em up levels (Rayman’s mosquito friend is back). Other levels have you fighting or avoiding some of the best-looking bosses in recent platform-game memory. There’s a mechanical laser-breathing dragon, a hand made up of darkness, and a massive masked luchador to name just a few.

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 you’re 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 Rayman’s 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 he’s 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 it’s 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.

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Rayman Legends is a very colourful title.
As if all that weren’t enough, some levels are occasionally ‘invaded’. 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 you’ll also unlock over forty remastered levels from Rayman Origins… So yeah, you won’t be rushing through Rayman Legends in a hurry that’s for sure.

Multiplayer is supported in Rayman Legends with support for up to 4-players simultaneously with drop-in/drop-out gameplay and if you have some friends over you are sure to have a blast although we would have loved to have seen the developers push the title to include online multiplayer - in this day an age it should be an essential inclusion - still with such precise controls and platforming action we can see potential issue with any form of lag.

While there is no online multiplayer Rayman Legends does include Challenge mode where you'll compete to collecting as many Lums as possible in a period of time, or trying to reach the furthest distance before dying. These challenges change frequently, some as often as daily, and allow you to post high scores to online leaderboards - and as a result compete against friends, or gamers around the globe.

Just like Michael's review of the PS3 game there really isn't too much to complain about with this title. As Michael said there are some pretty hard jumping segments in the game, while Murphy does occasionally move onto the next object and you often end up moving the wrong platform cauing an untimely death. Finally we did find the inclusion of the multiplayer soccer match a little strange in an otherwise platform-only game.

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Enemies and giant swinging axes!
So what improvements does this PS4 version have over the older generation (besides potential audio visual improvements as we'll discuss soon)? Well there are two main enhancements the first being a complete lack of loading times for the levels - it's pretty much instant on the downloaded version (we didn't get the retail disc version to test). The developers have also made some use of the Dual Shock 4's touch pad - but only to "scratch" prize tickets you collect for performing well in levels, while the other use is to take screenshots with an ability to zoom in and place the camera exactly.

No matter what platform you play Rayman Legends on this is a phenomenally beautiful title. Using Ubisoft's UbiArt Framework engine the levels are simply gorgeous and use a mixture of 2D artwork combined with 3D character models. It blends seamlessly and the result is one of the most colourful, exciting and gorgeous games we've seen in years. Unfortunately there aren't as many cut-scenes as we would have liked, but what's there is often amusing and worth the short runtimes.

Unlike many other titles that see a significant boost in resolution, frame rate and graphical detail and textures when moving to next-generation hardware, Rayman Legends doesn't quite make that jaw dropping jump with the PS3 version already running at 1080p resolution at 60fps. The Playstation 4 version retains that resolution and frame rate however does allow uncompressed textures on the 3D character models however differences between generations are small enough that if you have the PS3 (or XBox 360) version there is no incentive to upgrade.

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This boss battle could do with surround sound.
Sonically this game is generally wonderful, with one minor caveat which we'll get to soon. Firstly we have to mention the delightful music in this game which is as upbeat, lively, and cartooney as one would expect. What I didn't expect though was the licensed music in some of the levels which are used with stunning effect. Indeed, one of our favourite levels is set to a cover version of the song "Black Betty" by Spiderbait and Ram Jam. It's just such a delight. I played the level a second time, third then fourth not to beat my high score, but to just enjoy the experience. There are plenty of other songs to love with James Bond themed tracks also being a highlight.

That one little caveat we mentioned? Well for some strange, and somewhat disappointing reason, the audio is only in 2-channel stereo sound. Now we understand the game is a 2D platformer, so on paper that doesn't see such a big deal, but there are moments when objects move in and out of the third dimension - early on there is a boss encounter with a large dragon that flies in and out of the screen - and surround sound would have added that something extra.

Rayman Legends was one of the best games of 2013, and while this Playstation 4 port doesn't add anything dramatically new to the mix, nor does it provide a massive boost to the visuals or audio experience from previous-generation versions, however if you didn't grab the title on Playstation 3 last year, then we highly recommend you pick it up on Playstation 4. Rayman Legends is one of the best platforming games in years.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSA simply gorgeous game with stunning art design, but one which doesn't offer massive improvements over the PS3 title (which was super-gorgeous anyway).
SOUNDTop-notch music and effects makes this an aural treat, but only stereo sound disappoints slightly.
GAMEPLAYIf you want a great platformer there are very few better, in fact probably none in recent times. Fun, addictive, polished and, importantly, with varied gameplay and level design.
VALUEThere's over 100 levels to complete, and then daily challenges. Importantly there's a lot of replay value to beat high scores. Oh, multiplayer too.
OVERALLRayman Legends is one of the greatest platform games in recent times, and no matter the platform you buy it on, you're sure to be very impressed, and entertained.

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