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Rayman Legends PS4/Xbox One review

Excellent
AT A GLANCE
  • Sheer volume of content
  • Impressive level variety
  • Fantastic visuals and music
  • Initially confusing interface
  • Murfy isn't always welcome
  • Chaotic co-op with three or more players

There will come a point during your time with Rayman Legends where you'll run out of ways to express how much you enjoy it. By a few hours in, you'll have exhausted every synonym you know for "pretty." A few stages after that, "fun." By the end: "challenging." And only in the rarest occasion will you mutter the likes of "confusing," no thesaurus necessary. Don't be fooled by its disarming charm: this 2D platformer eventually becomes as difficult as it is visually alluring. But Rayman Legends' precise level design and controls, coupled with its gorgeous art style, catchy music, and impressive stage variety make overcoming that difficulty a memorable and worthwhile experience, regardless of which version you play. If you've already played through and finished the game on a current-gen console, either skip to the end for my verdict on Rayman Legends' next-gen release, or check out the new boxout that details the cross-gen differences. But if you missed out on this fantastic game in 2013 and are hungry for something to play on your PS4 or Xbox One, read on...

There's not much here in the way of story: a bunch of Teensies--tiny blue people with huge noses--have been kidnapped by nightmares come to life. Still, the minimal narrative is enough of a foundation to keep you moving from stage to stage. There are multiple worlds to take on, each with a dozen or more themed levels full of collectible Lums and hidden Teensies to save. In addition to these, you'll find daily and weekly challenges tied to online leaderboards, tons of characters to unlock, and an immensely addictive soccer mini-game that will siphon hours of your life without you even knowing--and if all that wasn't enough, a sizable number of remastered stages from Rayman Origins are ready to be discovered all over again.

At first, you'll be overwhelmed by how much there is to do, and Legends' initially-confusing interface doesn't really help you parse through that barrage of information. Frequent pop-up notifications try to pull you in a dozen directions at once, urging you to check out everything on offer without establishing what is and is not a part of the "main" game. It takes awhile to get your bearings, but you'll be blown away by the sheer variety of content once you do.

Rayman Legends on PS4 and Xbox One

So, how does the next-gen version of Rayman Legends compare to its last-gen counterpart? Actually, the two are nearly identical. Playing on the PS4 / Xbox One has a slight advantage, as these versions are marginally prettier than last year's PS3 and Xbox 360 releases and have no load times when transitioning into a new level. PS4 players can also use the controller's touchpad to pause the game, swipe around the screen, and snap a screenshot at anytime. Revolutionary? No, but pretty cool nonetheless.

That impressive variety even extends to the level design. It's not uncommon to eat your way through stages made entirely of cake in the food-themed levels of Fiesta de los Muertos. In 20,000 Lums Under the Sea, you'll have to swim through treacherous underwater grottos, avoiding the ever-searching spotlight of enemies to the backdrop of a music track that will instantly remind you of the famous theme from James Bond films. Each level is a visual delight brought to life by a wonderful attention to detail and an accompanying soundtrack that reflects its theme. It's almost impossible not to spend at least a little bit of time just staring in awe at the hand-drawn backgrounds, or the goofy creatures that inhabit each location.

What's more, every single stage is challenging in its own way. Some are more about exploring at your own pace, where the difficulty lies in seeking out every hidden secret; others will test your twitch reaction skills as you sprint and jump from platform to platform while a wall of fire races to catch you. Best of all, each world wraps up with a stage that plays a spoof of a popular song (think Black Betty, but with monster grunts in place of lyrics). Here, success relies on your ability to jump and kick to the beat of the music. You'll encounter a little bit of all of these things within each world, preventing Legends' numerous levels from ever feeling too much alike. There's just one thing that occasionally interrupts the excellent pace that pervades the entire game: a little green fairy named Murfy.

Murfy is an AI-controlled character that shows up in about half of the levels. Only with his help can you move certain platforms, or, say, stop a stream of fireballs from impeding your progress. In all but the Wii U and PlayStation Vita versions of the game, Murfy moves on his own accord, hovering above objects that he can manipulate. With the quick tap of a button, he'll do his thing and hover along until he's needed. At best, Murfy adds a minor but noticeable layer of challenge to the platforming experience; at worst, he's an unnecessary complication in already-fast-paced levels.

If you're playing on Wii U or Vita, however, the action is jarringly interrupted once he appears on-screen. You'll be forced to take control of Murfy even when playing solo, while an AI-controlled Rayman (or his friend Globox) runs along the level as you sit there and swipe at platforms, watching the computer have all the fun. Being forced to play as Murfy without even the option to revert control back to Rayman is shockingly bizarre and disappointing, especially considering Legends was initially built as a Wii U exclusive--instead, that version ends up being the least enjoyable way to play it.

Murfy does, however, make a good fit for less-skilled players who still want to join in on the fun without having to worry about precision jumping. But for those looking for a more intense multiplayer experience, up to four players (five on the Wii U) can join in the fray at once. Unfortunately, Legends faces many of the same cooperative challenges of its 2D-platformer brethren. Adding another player into the mix is genuinely enjoyable and a totally viable way to play through the game. But once you get three or four players competing for collectibles and slapping each other to their deaths, everything devolves into utter chaos, and it's extremely difficult to keep track of your character on the screen. That's not to say playing this way doesn't make for some mindless fun, just don't expect smooth sailing.

Even after ten hours of play, you'll have a wealth of content just waiting to be unlocked, pushing you to revisit already-completed stages or tackle challenges you'd passed up entirely. Rayman Legends is easily one of the most feature-rich platformers you'll likely see, rife with accessibility and challenge in equal measure. By a few hours in, you'll have exhausted every synonym you know for "pretty." A few stages after that, "fun." And by the end, just one word will accurately describe the whole experience: "fantastic."

Is it worth shelling out the cash for the next-gen version if you fell in love with last year's release? I suppose if you're desperate for something to play and have been itching to save Teensies all over again. But for most Rayman veterans, the PS4 and Xbox One version of Legends offers little incentive to return. For those who missed out the first time around, however, this is a no brainer--one that deserves your attention immediately.

More Info

Release date: Feb 18 2014 - PS4, Xbox One
Sep 03 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U (US)
Available Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Ubisoft
Franchise: Rayman
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief

One of 2013's greatest platformers is at its best on the PS4 and Xbox One. Those who have already completed a playthrough have little incentive to return, but it's a great value for anyone who hasn't.

This game was reviewed on PS3, Wii U, and PS4.

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49 comments

  • shawksta - March 17, 2014 11:43 p.m.

    Loved the game but honestly i wasnt willing enough to go through the Origins levels for 2 reasons 1. There's way too many Origins levels 2. Legend's standard makes the Origin levels way too boring in my opinion.
  • Ensoul - February 18, 2014 11:19 a.m.

    Weird. I preferred the Vita and Wii U version because of the way they used Murphy. I guess I just approached the "interruption" differently; it felt more like a puzzle when Murphy came into play. Like Cut the Rope or Where's My Water?, the player controlled the environment instead of the character. Which is why I didn't play the PS3 one for very long, touch screen actions reduced to one button press? No thanks.
  • jrob23 - February 19, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    only complete noobs would prefer it any other way. Of course it's better on the Wii U, that's what the developers had in mind from the ground up. Anyone pretending the Murphy levels are unnecessary are bought and paid for by Sony or Microsoft or shouldn't be reviewing games because they are beyond biased.
  • BladedFalcon - February 18, 2014 10:56 a.m.

    Yeah, having now played trough the entire game on PS3, I can say that Murphy gets too damn much in the way, even as a button press, is an unwelcome distraction in a game that's all about precision and fast reflexes. I can only imagine he's even more obnoxious to use in the Wii U version if that means you actually HAVE to swipe him around while controlling your main character at the same time. Actually, I'd go as far as to say that this game is worse off having been initially thought off as a Wii U exclusive, because the only reason Murphy exists is to shoehorn gamepad gameplay into the mix... And again, for this kind of game, it fucking SUCKS that you have to do it. The same exact game without the Murphy shit would have been much more enjoyable and true to the genre.
  • Arobadope - February 18, 2014 1:52 p.m.

    Really just sounds like you hate the Wii U lolol
  • BladedFalcon - February 18, 2014 2:17 p.m.

    I've never disguised the fact that i don't like the console, but I don't automatically hate all that comes out for it. And in this case, I'm just stating it as it is, ask anyone that's savvy on the genre, and they will tell you that most platformers (specially those focused on challenge.) are twitch reflex based. Just by that simple logic, adding an element that forces you to stop and do an action outside of controlling your character makes it counter-intuitive to what the game is supposed to be played as. Nowhere is this more evident than the fact that the truly hard or challenging stages have Murphy nowhere to be seen, why? because he gets in the fucking way. So seriously, this case doesn't really have to do at all with my dislike of the Wii U, the developers themselves indirectly acknowledged it was a bad idea by incorporating the touch control elements on stages in which you could afford to stop to do an action. If this game had been developed initially for the Vita touch-pad, I'd hate it and blame the Vita just as much, because it's simply a stupid idea that doesn't fit at all with the philosophy of the game.
  • Vonter - February 18, 2014 5:37 p.m.

    Yeah can't argue with that. They might be more fun in multiplayer. In single player they felt like escort missions. The only exception is the Murphy challenge because like some IOS games it requires fast paced action and reaction. At least I had fun in that specific mode.
  • Arobadope - February 19, 2014 5:22 a.m.

    Twitch based reflex? What? Sure, Platformers can be separated into two schools of thought, precise jumping (Mario) or the twitch-based style you speak of (Sonic), but to say most twitch based is....hilarious. especially considering Rayman made a name for itself has being a hard platformer because of its precise jumps, not twitch based gameplay (there is even a jump in the first rayman that is pixel perfect). So Rayman has never been about twitch based gameplay. As for the actual murphy levels that's your own issue, but considering you take time to just bash the Wii U it's really just hilarious and childish. Also, if they recognized it was so bad why did they also put it in the Vita version of the game (which was devved at the same time as the console ones)? By your logic if they knew it was bad they wouldn't have put it on the Vita as well. Sorry, but I think you'd bash the Wii U even if it was put on the vita first.
  • BladedFalcon - February 19, 2014 5:44 a.m.

    Uh... you've never even played Rayman Origins or Legends, have you. If you had, you'd understand that they aren't really like previous Rayman games, and that often, both of these games have stages and sections that demand precision AND good reflexes as you have to be constantly moving and avoiding stuff quickly without catching a break. Treasure chase levels are ALL about twitch based reflexes. Dude, It's not my own issue only, look above, even Vonter and Shawksta, two people that own and like the Wii U, acknowledge that Murfy kidna sucks, or is problematic in single player at best. A lot of reviewers complained about it as well, so this really isn't a problem I have, and it's not something I'm complaining about just because it happened on the Wii U first. Also, why are you calling me childish if you're the one that's making baseless accusations? I may not like the Wii U, but I really don't look any excuse I can to bash it, if I did, why would I have praised it when it did get good games like Super Mario 3D World, or the fact taht I often also criticize Sony and pretty much anyone I feel deserves it? Just because you pay attention to me when I call out the system for doing something shitty, doesn't mean that's all I do, you know :P Lastly... Dude, seriously? They put those sections in the Vita as well because they were already completed, and regardless of quality, it's more showy to say that your system can do it than not. But again, IF you had played the game, you'd understand what I'm talking about considering the murfy stages make about... less that 15% of the game total. If he was such a good feature an idea, why is he used in such a small portion of stages, hm?
  • Arobadope - February 23, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    If the murphy stages were that bad of an idea as you try to make it out to be, they could have just removed them said it was a bad idea and called it a day. Also, you're assuming I haven't played the game, that's cute, I can assume you just started gaming yesterday and that would explain basically everything you say. I used the old rayman games as an example of platformers that weren't about non-twitch based game, it has only been recently that rayman has shifted that way, so yes my statement stands Rayman has never been about twitch based gameplay, though I should through the caveat in there of "until recently", which is an error in clarification on my part. Statement as a whole still stands and changes nothing. Also more reviewers complained about the murphy levels in the 360 and ps3 versions than the Wii U/Vita ones (many actually said they felt they were better on the Vita and Wii U just because it was more active). If you're going to cite them at least honor their opinions properly. I call you childish because you are being childish, don't like it? Don't act like a child. Yes, they make probably 10% of the game if even that, yet you seem drawn to them enough to bash a whole console behind it....and yet you say you aren't being childish? Come on. I also never said the Murphy stages were good words in mouth much? I pay attention to a lot of what you say, I just ignore most of it because it's just too stupid to reply to and I chuckle, shake my head, and move on with my day.
  • BladedFalcon - February 23, 2014 10:24 a.m.

    And yet, you bothered to make a several paragraph's long reply several days after anyway. If most of what I say is too stupid to reply to, I wonder what this post says about your own intelligence then ;) Also, I just find it amusing you keep calling me childish... when it is you who keeps heaping insults and personal attacks instead of just arguing reasonably... Y'know, which is what actual children do, just saying. Anyway, regarding your ACTUAL arguments, I never said the entire Rayman series was twitch based, i believe my actual words were: "ask anyone that's savvy on the genre, and they will tell you that most platformers (specially those focused on challenge.) are twitch reflex based. " Based on my own quote, I'm talking only about the Rayman games that are meant to be challenging, that is to say, Origins and Legends... Making your statement about older Rayman games completely pointless and irrelevant, because I was never talking about them to begin with. Also... what reviewers are you talking about? people from nintendo focused sites and magazines? Because if you look at some of the most prominent gaming sites, most of them think of Murfy's use on the Wii U as a unnecessary, but harmless distraction at best, or a nagging annoyance in it's worst, and unlike you, I'm more than happy to provide links and facts: "Legends on the Wii U slams on the breaks in certain levels by putting you in control of Murfy, a helpful fly, while the AI moves Rayman. Here, you must shift your focus to the GamePad as you spread guacamole and ready catapults in an attempt to guide your bipedal friend to safety. These levels are a noticeable misstep in a game bursting with great ideas." "Even when things run smoothly, controlling Murfy isn't engaging because progress requires neither puzzle solving nor dexterity on your part. " http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/rayman-legends-review/1900-6413903/ "There are a few GamePad-minded features that add to the experience – shortcuts to help navigate the myriad level menus and unlockables, playing the entire game on the GamePad – but the few frustrations that plague Legends also circle back to Nintendo's controller." "These levels are less rage-inducing when playing with a competent friend, but relying on an A.I. counterpart is often an exercise in frustration." http://www.joystiq.com/2013/08/26/rayman-legends-review/ "On the provided Xbox 360 copy, this gameplay is rendered down to its basest functions -- press a button when near an interactive object, and Murfy will automatically do what you need to him to do. It's a simplistic system that feels somewhat pointless on any other machine than the Wii U, but given my feeling that Murfy's entire inclusion was little more than a meaningless tech demo anyway, I'm not exactly distraught by the reduced emphasis -- not least for the fact that some levels can move so fast, I'd rather be pressing a single button than messing about with touchscreens." http://www.destructoid.com/review-rayman-legends-260818.phtml "First, those touch-screen levels. In these sections, control of the character on-screen is wrested away from the single player, and you instead find yourself tapping, swiping, and jabbing at the screen on either your Wii U or Vita. You do these motions to remove traps, adjust platforms, and even distract enemies as the AI character on screen presses forward, attacking and jumping where needed. Most of the time, this works pretty well. The AI can occasionally bug out and make an idiotic jump to their death, and there are moments on both platforms where the touch-screen doesn't immediately do what you want it to." http://www.giantbomb.com/reviews/rayman-legends-review/1900-596/ There, all quotes from notable sites, taken straight from the articles, you can click the links and check for yourself. And I felt drawn enough to criticize that 10% of the game because it's shoddiness stands out in contrast with the rest of an otherwise excellent, polished game. The only childish behavior here, is the one displayed by you every time you get personally insulted because I call out on some of the Wii U's bullshit. Again, if you weren't, then why would you bother getting bent out of shape and replying every time? A truly mature response would be to dismiss stupidity and immaturity as much, and ignore it... And yet here you are :P Obviously, seeing my own response here, I'm clearly not a paragon of maturity myself, but then again I never claimed to be one, nor have I tried to demerit other's opinions by calling them childish. You on the other hand...
  • Vonter - February 19, 2014 5:46 p.m.

    Murphy sections felt like escort missions in single player. I like experiments but it's a fact they slowed the experience. The Murphy challenge was the best implementation for single player, it's a shame there weren't levels like that in single player, because come on, the CPU only walks on those. But anyway I admire Ubisoft for understanding the gamepad, props there, since at least they took more risks than the Nintendo games that were released last year [NintendoLand don't counts since it was a pack in].
  • shawksta - February 18, 2014 5:02 p.m.

    Yeah thats the thing, Murphy was specifically intended for Multiplayer, which is what the Sequel was aiming for to make use of the Gamepad as a Multiplayer tool. Thats what it was initially concepted back in 2012. Single player on Wii U is supposedly really boring because there are segments where you have to only use Murphy and the characters are AI if not in Multiplayer, making it frustrating to pick up items. This if anything is a flaw considering games like NSMB only had the platforms as an optional gamepad use while Murphy is a required mechanic. What it was intended to be built for turned out really great, the game is fantastic in Multiplayer, but Single player is rough and your better off playing other versions if your alone.
  • Vonter - February 18, 2014 5:27 p.m.

    Don't forget the harder pace of the first game. That's another shortcoming of this iteration. Nothing compared to the difficulty of chasing the chest or the land of the livid death
  • BladedFalcon - February 18, 2014 5:40 p.m.

    Well, not in the offline game... but if you ever bothered to try the daily or weekly challenges, you'll find it's plenty challenging to get platinum trophies there. Most of the time I got gold ones and even then I had to work for them. But see, I honestly suspect a part of why this game is easier is because it was designed for the Wii U in mind, again, try to think most segments in Origins, and you'll realize murfy would have never worked in any of them without being incredibly frustrating. And even here, the ONE daily challenge that uses murfy uses him sparingly... and even then it's by far the worst and the least fun out of all the possible ones
  • Vonter - February 18, 2014 5:44 p.m.

    I actually think it was in part those musical levels. At the pace of the last game the sound cues would not have worked, or would have been more painful than difficult. And comeon you make it sound like Murphy was the only thing in the game, is part mind you but it's also a sequel to the last one. I think it was a bad call bringing some of the older levels, because I don't know about you but the new pace made them more boring.
  • BladedFalcon - February 18, 2014 6:44 p.m.

    The musical levels were indeed easy in their initial form, but the 8-bit versions, while still now crazy hard, were challenging enough and pretty fun, at least IMO. And yeah, I agree the new pace made everything easier, but not boring. I concede that it's unlikely Murfy's inclusion influenced that, however.
  • Vonter - February 18, 2014 6:49 p.m.

    Sorry REALLY wanted to edit that. I meant at least in regards to the Back to Origins levels, there is something missing. Since they feel different, like of another flavor in Legends. Also again seeing the Land of Livid Dead missing shows they had to rework some levels, for the new speed they were going for.
  • jrob23 - February 19, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    cool story bro
  • shawksta - February 18, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    Great. Me and brother though already plan on playing the Wii U version specifically since it was what we hyped in the first place, we havent gotten to it since our backlog is big and we havent really gotten the game yet due to our spending to get a Wii U and Xbone. Getting a Wii U late gets you access to a bigger library and especially backwards compatible with Wii games.

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