Rayman Legends review: masterful platforming

By Andrew Yoon, Aug 29, 2013 8:00am PDT

Rayman Legends is a sequel to Rayman Origins, Ubisoft's critically acclaimed 2D platformer. By simply offering "more of the same," the game would instantly merit a recommendation. However, Ubisoft does something truly special with Legends. Not only does it feature the same thrilling platforming experience as its predecessor, Legends does much more, offering surprising new gameplay experiences--especially with the Wii U GamePad.

Origins surprised gamers with deep platforming gameplay, hidden underneath the eye-catching graphics rendered by the UbiArt Framework. Rayman managed to be the Sonic successor fans have long clamored for, with a heavy focus on speed and, more importantly, momentum. Levels in Rayman are designed to be played in one continuous flow, with enemies being creative platforms to use--not necessarily threats to be vanquished.

Legends offers the same pixel-perfect platforming that Origins delivered. In fact, it goes a step further by adding daily and weekly challenges. Playing through any of these custom levels, it becomes immediately clear how deep the gameplay systems are. Timing a midair punch differently by a few milliseconds, for example, could result in a drastically different score. The fact that Legends can offer a daily challenge shows how versatile the mechanics are: from speed-runs to survival challenges to distance competitions, there's an impressive amount of variety on display.

The amount of creativity on display is staggering. In addition to terrific platforming levels, Legends is unafraid to break genre. At times, Legends turns into a full-out shmup. Other times, it becomes a stealth game a la Mark of the Ninja. The music levels are a blast as well, having you time your jumps and kicks to the beat of remixed classics like Eye of the Tiger.

Through a lengthy, satisfying campaign and new content delivered daily through online challenges, Rayman Legends cements itself as an excellent platformer for any system. But on Wii U, the game becomes extraordinary. The GamePad can be used to interact with the environment, with touch moving platforms and motion sensors tilting the world. While these mechanics have been seen in other games, implementing these actions while playing with another player creates a rather unique co-op experience. Whereas in New Super Mario Bros U, playing with the GamePad was a relatively passive experience, both players will have to constantly talk and coordinate to get through the more demanding levels. For example, one level will have the GamePad player moving platforms to deflect lava while Rayman tries to navigate through.

Unfortunately, if you don't have a co-op buddy during these sections, you'll play as Murphy alone. And your AI-controlled partner can be frustrating to deal with. It's almost impossible to get all the secrets, and sometimes your AI partner won't even bother to move. Clearly, Rayman Legends is at its best when played with a GamePad and a human partner--without one of these elements, it's clear that some of the game's "spirit" is gone.

It's a small flaw in a game that is tremendous in nearly every other way. I didn't even mention the gorgeous boss battles, the eye-popping chase sequences, and one of the most significant bonuses in recent gaming memory: most of Rayman Origins is included in the game, remixed with new graphics and new challenges. These classic stages gradually unlock as you progress through the Legends campaign.

Rayman Legends represents exactly what Wii U games should strive to be. And on any platform, it's what a platformer should be. In addition, the game offers precisely what an online-connected, social single-player experience should. But above all, Rayman Legends embodies the spirit of what makes gaming so wonderful: it's enchanting, it's memorable, and most importantly, it's sheer fun. [9]


This review is based on early retail Wii U code provided by the publisher. Rayman Legends will be available at retail on Wii U, PS Vita, PS3 and Xbox 360. It will also be available digitally on PC on September 3rd for $59.99. The game is rated E10.

Click here to comment...

Comments

See All Comments | 1 Thread | 6 Comments