Ubisoft release Rayman Legends for the Xbox 360 this week to the thankful turnaround that meant this title was no longer a Wii U exclusive. As the direct sequel to our 2011 favourite platformer Rayman Origins, Rayman’s new outing is an exciting adventure through paintings where a little hint of the past returns amidst whole new nightmares to conquer. Where I had once quoted that “I don’t think to date there has ever been a 2D platform game as beautifully crafted as Rayman Origins,” – Legends wipes the floor with it! Designed with more shading, more depth to the visuals and an exceptional palette of colours that will fill your screen with dreams, and worlds from the imagination of Director Michael Ancel; I do not think to date there has ever been a 2D platform game as beautifully crafted as Rayman Legends. I’ve said it again, and I think only a next-gen Rayman could top the sheer quality of what’s on offer with the latest addition to the franchise.
Ubisoft are king of the platformers when it comes to capturing the presentation, artwork and design all wrapped up into a fun and inviting adventure as this. Reviews aren’t usually started on the basis of the visual and graphical quality of the game here on thisisxbox.com, but because Rayman Legends is one of the most striking and wonderfully aesthetic games portraying a platforming fantasy world, the hand drawn visuals, the 3D models, improvements to lighting in comparison to Origins, and completely amazing level design – it had to be done. Everything from the smallest plant to the fierce Dragons, the backdrop scenery and the whole magical realm that lies within the Rayman Legends universe is not only beautiful, but imagined in the greatest detail. It’s the Narnia of oil paintings.
Could anything be more fun than just wallowing in a fantasy land that will remind you of everything the older consoles had to offer for gamers? Rayman Legends is not just a modern platformer; the gameplay feels as good as your childhood platforming memories with collectables, elements of trial and error, fun and bright chapters that offer an equal amount of danger with a plentiful amount of frustrating moments to give you the urge not to be beat. Platformers do not usually require a great amount of skill, but instead it’s about timing your moves carefully and always waiting for the right moment to strike. Just like other Rayman titles, in the latest game you are still faced with moving ledges, timing your jumps, sprinting when required, a selection of random enemies scattered throughout the chapters and the objective of freeing Teensies from capture and additionally collecting the Lums. If you are unfamiliar with Rayman, Lums are to this franchise as Rings are to Sonic the Hedgehog and the Teensies you have to free are like rescuing hostages only they’re like compressed Smurf’s! However, if you do not free enough Teensies you will be unable to advance into the games later missions as your unlocks are based on your ability to find as many as possible!
Platformers are immense fun when well designed and offer a variety of challenges and unlocks to keep you busy for as long as humanly possible and there are plenty of missions to be had in this outing. Rayman Legends as per Origins also functions in the same way that four players can co-operatively work together to beat the chapters, free the Teensies and collect the Lums. This combination when in Solo or Co-op will unlock more levels as you progress and eventually lead you to end of level chapters and bosses. You still have an unlimited amount of lives as upon death you restart around where you last died or your closest auto-save point in time. If you did previously own Origins, it may please you that you do get to revisit some revamped and touched up Origins chapters in a separate part of the game with the new updated engine and visual quality as Legends chapters. To take advantage of the Origins parts you have to have won those chapters from the games own in-game Lucky Tickets (scratch cards) which are awarded to you dependent upon collecting enough Lums. The Lucky Tickets also offer up additional prizes such as character unlocks, Bonus Lums, Bonus Teensies and other items of benefit to you if you match three symbols on every ticket.
The main storyline is about rescuing the Teensies from the Nightmares with each mythical nightmare world contained within its own painting. Rayman has been asleep for around 100 years which is more than enough time for Nightmares to infest the Glade of Dreams and capture the Teensies. The more Teensies you save, the more paintings and their worlds will become available to you, with each world also having its own set of chapters. To spot the difficulty level, each painting before you jump into it will have a number of skulls beneath it – the more skulls, the harder the game as well as the tougher the challenges. Each of the chapters vary in length and difficulty, but some of the highlights of the campaign are the rock party musical levels that will see you in a high speed race to the finish with all enemies lined up performing in the background to a tune of funky music. Chapters such as Castle in the Sky with its floating medieval castle ruins, and the Enchanted Forest are just a few visual beauties that are like being immersed into your own cartoon! Additionally Murfy – the sort of fairy frog character that acts as a guide for Rayman is back! Murfy appears in many of the chapters and requires that you give orders in order to complete challenging parts of the game with a button press. As you run, jump, fly in the air by your hair and doing what Rayman does best, Murfy will move obstacles, cut ropes that can be used to climb and swing as well as tickle enemies and guide you through the chapter until he is no longer needed. Murfy’s return ranks up the difficult as you have to think and time Murfy’s orders to coincide with your own gameplay. Timing his moves correctly with yours or you’ll just die and have to do it all over again.
The bosses too have had an overhaul in Legends and now come at you in 3D (more like throw themselves in your face), as well as dwarfing Rayman or whatever colourful character you choose to play with, the bosses are fierce, ginormous and more of an endurance survival challenge. There were times when things didn’t seem as straight forward as they appeared, so often a rethink of strategy is needed to finish them off! The game does get increasingly difficulty the further into the missions you travel, which as any platformer should to ensure that completion has been a real achievement in itself, but unlocking every single painting will take you some considerable time, and unlocking every single playable character requires around one-million Lums to be stored – now that will take months! The unlockables consist of a mix of Creatures and Heroes where Creatures are just like trophies and have no real usage, but Heroes are where your unlocked characters are stored. To unlock more characters you have to collect Lums and Skull Coins, but some Princess characters can only be unlocked by collecting enough Teensies to save them. In the Heroes section of the game you can easily switch between playable characters.
Aside from the campaign which is a series of paintings, each with its own world, each world with its own chapters – there are online elements of the game where you can compete with Xbox LIVE players in the way of Challenges. There are Daily and Weekly online Challenges each with an Extreme more difficult challenge for players who have a set Awesome rank. Your Awesome rank increases with the more trophies you earn and for doing things of a great nature…saving Princesses, winning Bronze, Silver or Gold in Challenges etc. Once into the Challenge you can see how your score compares against your friends or other online players in the set level which has been designed as a timed objective – and when the level starts you can see the ghost player of those you’re competing against. I found the ghost player too annoying because I was unable to see my own character clearly enough, but it can be turned off in the options. Daily and Weekly challenges are updated after their time ends, but you can re-try an unlimited number of times to get a better rank or score before the day or week is up.
I struggled to find anything negative about Rayman Legends; everything from the artwork to the level design, the challenges, the bosses, the whole mythic worlds and enchanting scenery was perfect for an amazing platforming game as this. Everything about it is just brilliant and fun for literally anyone! There are elements which could have made the game better such as online co-op modes, but that is the only improvement that could have been implemented. Overall I can only praise Ubisoft for delaying the game to make it a multiplatform release with more levels and a fantastic return to Origins too. If you love platformers, you’ll totally fall in love with Rayman Legends as it’s a wonderful trip into a world that is filled with dreamscapes and beautifully orchestrated nightmares.
There’s nothing quite like Rayman, and Rayman Legends is the most outstanding of all platformers on Xbox 360 – captivating and imaginative.
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