The leftover milk in your cereal bowl. The warmth of a ray of sunshine on a cold winter day. Kicking off your shoes after a long day of work. Rayman Legends.
What do these things have in common?
All of them are experiences that will make you smile and feel a sense of warmth straight down to your core. Experiences that don't occur often in the world but when they do, they make your day just a little bit better.
The gaming world is full of games glorifying violence and death, that too often feature a color palette full of drab grays, browns and blacks. Rayman Legends is a game that is exceedingly rare in today's gaming world, an experience that doesn't occur that often but is one that will make your day just a little bit better for having played it.
A Valid Re-Release
Rayman Legends is another in a long line of PlayStation 3 games re-released on the PlayStation 4, but this one is actually valid: not a lot of people played it on the PS3. The game quickly got overshadowed by bigger, larger affairs and on the PlayStation 4, where the gaming landscape is far more limited and there is no other game like it, Rayman Legends has a chance to truly shine.
Rayman Legends is a platformer in the purest sense of the word. The game harkens back to an era when level design triumphed over story and gameplay was the king of the videogame landscape.
As Rayman (or a number of other characters – more on that later), you'll run, jump, float and punch your way through over 60 levels. The levels themselves are incredibly varied: one minute you're in a forest, the next you're in a spooky castle and the next running through a rock opera as the scenery crumbles around you. Every level in Rayman Legends offers a fresh experience and the gameplay never, ever gets stale. While other platforming games force you to focus on blocks of levels at a time, such as the eponymous snow or lava worlds, Rayman Legends keeps things fresh one level at a time and lets you choose which levels you tackle. At any given time, you'll be able to choose from a number of levels to complete and not be forced to follow a linear progression.
The platforming quickly escalates from easy to challenging; despite it's cartoonish, bright colors, Rayman Legends is a game targeted specifically towards gamers who have some knowledge about the platforming genre. This game will make you sweat, especially during its most tense moments. Quite a few levels have you racing against a metaphysical clock, taking the shape of a wall of fire breathing down your back, ready to punish you for taking the time to admire the scenery.
You'll be admiring the scenery, that much is for certain, as the game is like a playable Disney movie. It is beautifully animated, with both the playable characters and their adversaries having copious amounts of animation ranging from attacks to death animations. Even the lowest of enemies will make a lasting impression.
The game controls like a dream, with Rayman having some real weight behind his jumps and in the instances that you die, you'll never feel like the fault was with the game. A generous checkpoint system ensures that you won't be replaying large stretches of a level over again as well.
We would be remiss to not talk about Rayman Legends' music, composed by Christophe Heral. The music is amazing, often times being incorporated directly into gameplay elements in subtle ways. The soundtrack is whimsical, charming and easily rivals anything Nintendo has done in the platforming genre in quite some time. In fact, that could really be said about Rayman Legends as a whole.
This one level, appearing early on in the game, demonstrates everything great about Rayman Legends in a way that words cannot:
A Massive Game
Simply put, Rayman Legends is a massive game chock full of content. In the beginning, it's almost overwhelming as the game will constantly bombard you with messages about the various bits and pieces of the game you're unlocking simply by playing.
Let's try to break this down as simply as possible to give you a glimpse at the wealth of content available.
In any given stage, there are anywhere from three to ten Teensies you can rescue in addition to just finishing the level. You don't need to rescue every Teensie if you don't want to, but you at least need to grab some because Teensies are required to unlock additional levels.
In general, the majority of the Teensies will be available in plain sight, requiring platforming finesse to grab, while in most levels, two Teensies are hidden in the environment. You must first find their hidden hiding spots and then rescue them from a fiendishly difficult platforming segment, giving you a reason to replay levels again and again since you won't find these hidden Teensies the first time through.
Each level has Rayman collecting Lums, which can best be compared to the coins in Super Mario Bros., except here the Lums have quite a few additional features. For starters, Lums are used to determine the trophy you receive at the end of a level: Gaining a high amount of Lums, usually 600 or so depending on the level length, will reward you with a gold trophy. Lums also serve as the game's currency, being used to unlock additional costumes and characters when enough are collected.
You read that right: Rayman Legends features unlockable characters and costumes as in-game rewards, just like the good old days, and not as paid downloadable content. You can play as Rayman's best friend, Globox, wizards, and warrior princesses: the amount of characters and costumes are staggering. Each character plays exactly the same but features different animations, making them all feel unique.
Even if the game stopped there, it would have more content than your average game; luckily for you, Rayman Legends isn't even close to done. Invasion levels appear midway through the game that combine two levels together with you racing against the clock to defeat them. There are mini-games you can play against your friends. Creatures to collect for additional Lums. There are online challenges where you can pu=it your fastest time on daily and weekly challenges against other Rayman Legends players across the globe.
Then Rayman Legends drops the bomb, the cheery on top of a delicious content filled cake. The game features 40 levels from Rayman Origins, remastered in Rayman Legends. To finish all the content the game has to offer is at least a 15 – 20 hour endeavor.
Rayman Legends is probably the best bang for your buck on the PlayStation 4, without a doubt.
The PlayStation 4 Advantage
While the actual gameplay portion of Rayman Legends is the same on the PlayStation 4 as it was on the last generation release, Ubisoft takes advantage of the PlayStation 4's hardware to give you the definitive Rayman Legends experience.
Let's get the most obvious advantage out of the way: the graphics are slightly better. The graphics weren't slouching in previous iterations of the game, but comparing the game side-by-side to the PS3 version shows that the PS4 version of the game has a slight graphical advantage. For example, textures are clearer and colors pop a bit more. However, the true advantage of Rayman Legends on the PS4 is what you can't see: the removal of all loading times.
For the most part, you'll never see a loading screen in Rayman Legends. Levels start instantly and when they end you'll find yourself immediately back at the level select hub. The game does occasionally load, but the load times are a second at best and it's very, very rare to see that screen. It's a technical feat we really hope to see more of in this generation.
Rayman Legends takes advantage of the DualShock 4 in two different ways, both involving the touch pad. The most common use of the touch pad is using it to scratch off Lucky Tickets, items that give you new creatures, Lums and Rayman Origins levels. It's a small use of the touch pad but it's nice to see that at least Ubisoft tried. The other use of the touch pad is in the new Camera Mode, a feature where you can use the pad to set up the perfect screenshot. It's not anything that is used in actual gameplay, but it's handy for gamers who are constantly making use of the Share button. Again, points to Ubisoft for at least attempting to use the new features of the PS4 and making sure these additions don't disrupt the flow of the game.
The final exclusive feature of Rayman Legends is an exclusive PlayStation 4 costume, letting Rayman dress up as an assassin from Assassin's Creed. The costume isn't bad, but honestly, the Splinter Cell costume that the Xbox One version gets is superior in terms of looks and this is coming from an Assassin's Creed fan. What would have been really amazing was to see Ubisoft work with Sony directly to give us a costume inspired by the PS4's library of games, such as a costume from Knack or Killzone: Shadow Fall.
Sadly, if you've played Rayman Legends during the last generation there is really no reason for you to pick up the game again; in that regard, it would have been nice to see a couple of new levels to justify a repeat purchase. According to Ubisoft, Rayman Legends missed its sales expectations in the last generation so many of you didn't experience this game: Now is the time to right that wrong. Priced $20 lower than your average PS4 game at $39.99, you're getting far more content than you would with most regular priced PS4 games.
Rayman Legends is a masterpiece. It was a masterpiece in the last generation and it's a masterpiece on the PlayStation 4. It's rare for any system to get a truly amazing game in the first year of release and the Playstation 4 got one in the first three months. We can't wait for Michel Ancel and the team at Ubisoft to create a built from the ground up PlayStation 4 version of Rayman.
Final Score: 9.5/10
A copy of this game was provided to PS4 Experts by Ubisoft for review purposes.
Game Category: Action / Adventure
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 3/2/2014