THE release of Rayman Legends consolidates a golden few months for the humble platformer, a genre that has been the outlived countless obituaries over the years.
Game Review: Rayman Legends - Playstation 4 (reviewed) / Xbox One
Score: 9.3 / 10
Until now, the spoils of the most recent wave of games on next gen have been the preserve of Wii U owners; the latest Rayman game landed on the system as far back as last August, followed by Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze.
Now, owners of the new generation of Sony and Microsoft consoles can at least enjoy at least one third of this gilded triumvirate. Arguably, Rayman is the most impressive of all three titles. A symphony of inspired level design, visionary mechanics and delectable visuals, this is the game that confirms the franchise’s limbless protagonist’s place into the rarified domain occupied by Nintendo’s mascot.
In conception, Legends is directly inspired by 2011’s Rayman Origins, but improves upon its predecessor thanks to razor sharp execution. Much of this is down to Rayman himself, a frenzied, buoyant bundle of energy and elasticity, at once lumbering and elegant, proof that a character need not rely on a bevy of power ups to enjoy an arsenal of varied and potent abilities.
In the same way that every stage of Mario’s latest outing boasted something different, Ubisoft Montpellier have allowed their imagination to run riot. No sooner are you navigating the saccharine interior of a giant cake than you are bounding away from a wall of fire, with each hop, glide and wall run choreographed to a jaunty soundtrack.
Visually, Legends is enchanting from start to finish. The levels are rich in layers and detail while the frame rate is seamless. A technical marvel, the graphical sheen ensures that the game’s bizarre and outlandish world pops and fizzes at every turn. Indeed, other than Super Mario 3D World, it is hard to think of a game in recent memory that raises a smile so often.
Repeated playthroughs guaranteed
The Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions sadly come without the inspired second screen functionality on the GamePad of Nintendo’s console which made for riveting co-operative multiplayer action, although the touchpad on the DualShock 4 does allow you to scratch lucky tickets. This is a minor concession, however, and is more than offset by near instantaneous loading times that do a fine job of maintaining the game’s flow and rhythm.
The sheer wealth of content and collectibles guarantee repeated playthroughs, and even after revisiting some levels for the second or third time, they do not lose their capacity to charm. Legends takes the best motifs of the platformer and adds its own inimitable invention and panache to the equation. For that reason, it is one of the best games to grace the fledgling next generation so far.