Rayman Legends is a true testimony of what a fantastic creative and genius team can craft given the freedom and necessary resources... a true masterpiece!
Rayman is back and he is better than ever. Now before I start reviewing this game, I must say that I didn't play Rayman Origins back when it released, but the guys over at Ubisoft were extremely nice enough to send us a copy of both games, Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends. I wanted to write a review for both of them, but since Rayman Origins is a two year old game, I decided to cram it inside the Legends review. So let's continue with the review...
A direct sequel to the stellar platformer Rayman Origins, the story of Legends picks up 100 years after the events of Origins. Rayman and his pals have been asleep for over a century and during this time the Bubble Dreamer's nightmares grew in strength and numbers and they are threatening the whole kingdom. The ten princesses have been kidnapped and it's up to Rayman and his friends to jump in and save the day. As in Origins the story is not that important here, it is silly and funny although it has a more serious tone that the one in Origins; the nightmares started wreaking havoc after Rayman and his friends annoyed them to death with all of the ruckus they were making while asleep, so there's that. But the silliness and the fun both games offer doesn't end there, no no no everything about these game is funny!
Rayman Legends as its predecessor, is a sidescrolling action platforming game with a few puzzles thrown in there just for fun. Unlike Rayman Origins where you had to earn your powers like punch, glide, swim and wall run by completing the missions, here you start fully equipped from the get go. So what is changed from the past you might ask? Well, the basic mechanics are still the same, but there are a lot of new ones that make things interesting. Unlike in Origins where you used a map like mechanic to choose what level to do next, this time around that is switched for a hub world. Once you complete a level, you go back to the tent that acts as a hub world and there you can see pretty much everything that you have unlocked and move freely like you are in a level. There are 6 worlds and apart from the last one, each has 9 main levels to complete: 5 standart but unique levels, a boss fight level, 2 where you free 2 of the princesses and the last one is a special musical level.
In Origins you unlocked levels by freeing Electoons and the same mechanic returns in Legends, but this time around you unlock the levels by freeing the Teensies who were captured by the nightmares and the 5 dark Teensies. There are about 8 Teensies to be freed in the main levels but that number can drop to three in the special unique levels. Now one thing that is clear to me after playing both games is that Rayman Legends is way easier than Rayman Origins when it comes to unlocking new levels. What I am saying is that freeing the Teensies is way easier than freeing the Electoons. In the prequel during the levels you could collect Lums and at the end of that level, depending on how much Lums you collected, you were awarded Electoons. And getting every Lum was a pain in the a$$. It was such a pain cause the numbers of Lums on each level where exact as the number needed to unlock every Electoon per level. That sucked, very much for me since I consider myself to be a perfectionist. I wanted to collect all of the Lums to unlock and see everything that Rayman Origins had to offer, but I simply couldn't. Now that annoying thing has changed in Rayman Legends, because the number of Lums present on a level exceeds the number needed to max the score in the end, but also mainly cause it this time around you don't earn a Electoon or Teensie at the end of each level. You just unlock trophies and a lucky ticket. That is a change that I really liked. But don't get me wrong, Rayman Legends can still be a very challenging platformer if you want to 100% every level.
The prequel had a similar mechanic where the levels of the first world were set in a jungle, the second in a desert and so on, but this time around they also changed that. Each world has its unique theme, but that doesn't limit the settings of the levels, meaning that in a world levels can be set in a jungle, desert, ice world etc. Each level is unique and it's more beautiful than the last. There are also levels with new mechanics or gimmicks like Doodle Jump like mechanic where you have to climb before the level disappears or make your way down a pit as fast as possible or underwater levels where you have to avoid lasers that can zap you...these are just a few I can mention, but there are a lot of other cool levels. But the coolest of them all are the musical ones, they are the simply the best. They are not challenging or difficult per se, they are just rhythm based levels set to covers of songs like Black Betty or Eye of the Tiger. What is special about these levels are the fantastic covers of the songs and the creativity of each once. The beats play as you bash an enemy of jump or glide or slide and the synchronization is absolutely outstanding. The level of creativity is... I don't know, people must invent a word for it. But you have to play them in order to truly experience the genius behind them, sure you can watch a video of someone else playing them, but where is the fun in that?
The creativity continues with the amazing boss fights. Like in Rayman Origins, at the end of each world there is a boss fight and here the devs have outdone themselves. Each one of the fights is unique, for example: in the fight against the dragon you have to shoot punches while avoiding the his fire breath or in another where you have to bash the luchadore's head while avoiding lava and his deadly punches. Like in Origins, one hit will kill you so these fights can prove to be a challenge if you don't learn the attack pattern first, but strangely they don't become annoying. That said, none of the levels will become annoying even after the tenth time trying to 100% it. Very few games, especially platformers, achieve this feel that it's not the game's fault, it's yours and keep things interesting even after playing the same sequence many times. I think the new checkpoint system present in Legends is a factor in that. In Origins if you died, you had to restart the whole level or you would restart in the middle if you passed that point, but here there are far more checkpoints, so it doesn't get on your nerves. Another factor and I think it's the main one, are the improved controls. Don't get me wrong, Rayman Origins controlled greatly, but when it came to jumping it felt floaty and that cause many problems with some of jump platforming sequences. However here, they have tightened the controls, so you have more control over Rayman's jumps or his other actions.
Another new addition to the fantastic formula, this time around is Murphy. Murfy can perform various actions such as cutting through ropes, activating mechanisms, grabbing hold of enemies and assisting in gathering Lums. These offer a range of levels in which co-operation is required to progress. Now in the Wii U or Vita versions a player can control Murphy's movement and action using touch controls, but you can't do that for the PS3, PC and Xbox 360 versions since it's impossible to do. But the devs still managed to make it work in a very interesting way. During many levels on the consoles Murphy will join you and can "control" his action with only one button since he will go to the nearest object of interest and wait for your input. This makes the game a little more difficult than the Wii U or Vita counterparts, but also more challenging in a fun way.
In terms of content, Rayman Legends is fully packed and it will keep you hooked on for some time. It has more than 120 levels, including 40 remastered levels from Rayman Origins which are unlocked by obtaining Lucky Tickets, which can also win additional Lums and Teensies or Creatures. Some levels feature remixed 'Invaded' versions, which must be completed as quickly as possible in order to get the max number of Teensies. There are also Daily and Weekly challenges that offer new content for free. Also new challenges can be accessed accessed by raising the player's 'awesomeness' rating, which increases by collecting trophies earned by rescuing Teensies, set high scores and so on. There are also a ton of costumes or skins to unlock. When you throw in that every level can be played with up to three or four other players on local co-op and the fantastic Kung Foot, which is a local multiplayer soccer game, Rayman Legends has a sh*t ton of content and it's a perfectionist dream game; 700 Teensies to collect is a very big number and will take some time. As I said, Rayman Origins had a lot of things to do, but Rayman Legends stands on a whole another level (it has almost the full Origins game inside). Online multiplayer would have been nice, but whatever!
Now in terms of presentation I can't say enough good things about it. It is simply the best looking with an outstanding OST and sound effects game I have ever experienced. Sure the 2D art of Rayman Origins was pretty beautiful, but the art of Legends is in a whole another level. Everything you see in the game can serve as a computer background; it is so good that it belongs in a museum. The environments look absolutely outstanding, the characters and their animations, the crazy attention to the small details, everything is again, people need to invent a new word about it. The music and effects are just as perfect.
I think that both of these games, but especially Rayman Legends are a true testimony of what a fantastic creative and genius team can craft given the freedom and necessary resources...a true masterpiece! Go and buy this game!
And after that bombshell, it's time to end the review. Thanks for reading!
Rayman Legends was reviewed on a PS3 using a promo copy of the game provided by Ubisoft. Rayman Legends is now available for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, WiiU and PS Vita.