Buy Rayman Legends
There are fewer tried-and-tested genres in games like platformers, which are at once the simplest to design but also among the hardest to perfect and innovate. They are also gaming at its very basic — generally revolving around a fixed set of actions which only varies with how the player interacts with the world around them with those actions. Despite being a very old genre, there have been a number of examples in recent memory of platformers continuing to redefine the wheel and innovate within the simple premise the genre presents – Super Mario Galaxy, Mirror’s Edge and Spelunky are the few that come into the mind first.
Yet besides Mario, Ubisoft’s Rayman has been a series that has consistently produced fun and innovative platformers over more than a decade. Legends, the fifth-installment in the main series is merely another feather in its star-studded cap.
Legends retains the inherent silliness of the Rayman universe by wholeheartedly embracing its characters and humor and weaves a variety of legends set in different worlds. Each of these worlds takes place in a painting (a nod to Super Mario 64) and contains an average of about 10 levels. Most of these levels don’t take more than 15-20 minutes to clear but there’s definitely a lot of quick thinking and observation necessary to discover all the hidden areas in a level. Where Legends’ level design – an essential component of platformer shines is that each of these levels revolve around a simple idea which makes use of a specific peculiarity of the world. It can be something as simple as being able to “levitate” due to the wind force, running across an entire level spread over a quicksand or using “cake-eating monsters” to progress in levels made entirely of cake.
Legends is unlike Super Mario Galaxy in this crucial way. Where Galaxy relied almost entirely on its innovative formula and concept, Legends thrives from the sheer variety of ideas it packs within each of these worlds. Some of these ideas might seem too distinct for the taste of some platformer fans that may bring up the complaint that Legends suffers from an identity crisis but the game ties them up so neatly within the structure of the game and keeps it aesthetically consistent that it doesn’t seem that big of an issue.
In terms of variety in level design, Legends has them in bucketloads — in quantities that some platformers can barely muster in 2 or 3 games. Many of these levels feature Murfy, your sidekick who helpfully moves around with you and assists you in interacting with the world and altering it – be it moving platforms to rotating entire levels inside a giant wheel. Some of them involve dashes across the level which introduce a degree of intensity which is fairly rare to platformers. There is an occasional boss fight too in each of the world and they can be a solid challenge to your reflexes and quick thinking while being a breath of fresh air from the usual challenges you face in every level.
The beautiful 2D art continues to be a standout for the Rayman series as Legends features some of the most breathtaking background illustrations you’ll witness in games. There’s a noticeable element of “perspective planes” to its art-style which gives Legends a nice semi-3D (or 2.5D, as they call it nowadays) touch. There is also a great amount of attention to detail that Ubisoft have paid to its backgrounds. There’s quite a lot that goes in any frame of Legends –whether you’re sliding across zip-lines or simply taking a moment to look around. An essential element to any platformer, the art-style is the binding force for Legends which holds its distinctly unique worlds together.
A special mention needs to be given to the music which like every other element of Legends is tremendously consistent despite being varied ranging from diverse genres like rock, orchestral to mariachi music.
Music also plays a key role in *the* most fun levels Legends comes up at the end of each world – music-based levels where you play through a song but where every note or beat correlates with your action on-screen. It’s a brilliant synthesis of smart level design and innovation which at once sums up what’s so great about Legends.
Legends’ controls are tight and accurate — neither too heavy nor too floaty, and the AI is consistent which is particularly crucial in levels that involve your sidekick Murfy who is essential in getting across the level.
Like every other good platformer, Legends has an obscene amount of content – all of which are unlocked sensibly. That means as you play through levels of a world, new content keeps getting unlocked in other worlds which keeps you rooted to the game. There’s also a “Back To Origins” world which brings about 40 odd levels of Rayman Origins back into Legends. There are also occasional “invasions” which alter levels that you have already completed and provide significantly greater challenge and reward. Add in a diverse group of playable characters and you’ve got a killer game that features incredible amount of content.
That is even before you step into the multiplayer arena. True to its genre’s strengths, Legends features great online as well as local co-operative and competitive multiplayer modes which add another dimension of challenge and fun to its already vibrant and creative levels. There’s also a fun mini-game of sorts for local multiplayer called KungFoot. The only downside to the added layer of fun in multiplayer modes is that the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are restricted to 4-player multiplayer and don’t exactly have an intuitive way to control Murfy – who assists(selectively so if you want to help a specific friend) the other players. It’s clear to see that the Murfy specific levels were designed keeping WiiU’s GamePad in mind so naturally the controls aren’t the best with a normal controller.
But that is merely a minor quibble in some levels that doesn’t ruin the fun that you can get from playing with your friends or family as you cooperate and compete across the vibrant and challenging levels of Legends.
It’s easy for an average platformer to briefly entertain you, but it takes a special breed of platformers like Rayman Legends to constantly keep you engaged that makes you mutter “Whoa!” out loud as you participate and witness in awe at the creativity the developers have put in the levels. With ridiculous amount of content, consistently top-notch design and a fun multiplayer component, Legends is bound to be a future classic, one that marks another success for this series’ that is fast emerging as an equal to Mario – in terms of its legacy.