For anyone who owned an original Playstation as a child, Rayman was one of the must have games for the console. As a fan of side-scrollers, many hours were invested in what was a fun although challenging game. Since the original Rayman was released in 1995 it has gone on to become a signature brand for Ubisoft, spawning multiple sequels and even spin offs such as the hugely entertaining ‘Raving Rabbids’ series. However from 2003 until 2011, games focussed solely around the loose limbed creature were not released on the main consoles.
In 2011 Rayman Origins was released featuring hugely updated graphics and superior gameplay suited to the current console generation. This was loosely based around the original game and those who have played it will recognise some of the stages. The game was extremely well received by the press and gamers alike.
The most recent game, Rayman Legends has had a somewhat torturous production and suffered many delays on the road to release, billed originally as a Wii U exclusive but then extended to all other consoles after the limited success of the Wii U. The wait has however been worth it. Featuring over 100 levels, the game has a very long playing time but never gets tired. As in Origins, the levels are separated into various different worlds which are unlocked as progress is made through collecting and rescuing teenies; the main purpose of the game. Each world is made up of around 9/10 levels, consisting of standard platform levels, races to rescue the princesses that have been captured, levels involving Murphy – a greenbottle who aids in cutting ropes, destroying enemies and activating mechanisms to allow the player to progress, and musical levels.
The musical levels of the game are by far the most fun of any platformer I have played. These are fast paced running levels whereby an adapted well-known song is played in the background to which the player must jump, punch and run in time to the beat. Examples of the songs included are ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor and ‘Woo Hoo’ by The 5,6,7,8s. Although these do get progressively more difficult towards the end of the game, they are relatively easy to play through without dying and this is important as it does not interrupt the smooth flow of the levels.
Playing as I did on the Playstation Vita, the Murphy levels were controlled through the touchscreen. This adds a different dynamic to the game and for the most part runs smoothly. Occasionally the levels do get frustrating as the pace of these levels on the Vita is controlled by the A.I. therefore forcing you to act quickly to avoid failing the section. However, whilst this can be frustrating it also injects a certain amount of difficulty into the game which is not found on the main console versions.
What the console versions lack they make up for with the inclusion of ‘invasion’ levels, which are slightly varied versions of the normal levels but with trophies awarded depending on how fast the levels are completed. These have clearly been included in the game to provide a challenge for hardcore gamers and certainly achieve that goal. At present, the invasion levels are not present in the Vita version, although Ubisoft have promised they will be added in a later patch. The Vita port also does not include the multiplayer aspect of the console versions but other reviews have stated that this also runs excellently and is great fun.
The game is based on the UbiArt engine and makes it look consistently stunning. Although Rayman Legends is primarily a 2D platformer, the background and foreground are given 3D style effects which give a real sense of depth to the in-game world. Playing through, I have not encountered any graphical glitches and it seems almost perfect in this regard. As the game has been graphically updated from ‘Rayman Origins’ Ubisoft have taken the chance to include 40 of the Origins levels in the game which have been developed to suit the style of Legends. For those who have not played Origins, these are some of the very best levels from the 2011 game and are great fun to play through again even if you have played the original.
Despite the stuttered release and delays, Rayman Legends has been released to critical acclaim and has enjoyed success on all consoles. This is a great game – perfect for picking up and playing whenever you are bored. There will not be a better platformer this year.
Rayman Legends is available on PC, PS3, Playstation Vita, Xbox 360 and Wii U