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Rayman Legends PS4/Xbox One review

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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review

49 comments

  • StrayGator - August 26, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    "The uploader has not made this video available" fix plz k bye.
  • GenderBender_9000 - August 26, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    I loved origins, can't wait to play this.
  • garnsr - August 26, 2013 9:23 a.m.

    Weren't the Murfy parts the ones that eveyyone was talking about after first seeing the game, when they thought tapping on the Gamepad was going to be so cool? It always seems to be the parts that we hear a lot about in previews that end up being less cool when the game comes out. I played the first half of Origins, and that was when I realized I don't really want to play 2D platformers anymore. I loved them back in the day, but now I'd rather have open world games, or platformers like Ratchet and Clank instead.
  • Vonter - August 26, 2013 9:53 a.m.

    Weren't you up for the challenge? Was it too colorful? Or more understandably you look for games with more substance? Since other than that the game is very polished even for retail sale. (You wouldn't find 2d platformers with this longevity for a lesser price). I'm curious to see which I like best of the two Rayman or DKC:TP.
  • shawksta - August 26, 2013 11:38 a.m.

    In my opinion, both DK and Rayman Dominate in fantastic quality 2D Platformers with old school difficulty, and they aren't indies for once. Its funny how both are getting sequels in the same year
  • garnsr - August 26, 2013 11:51 a.m.

    Origins is good for what it is, it's gorgeous, but I think just running and jumping isn't for me anymore. I find myself buying platformers on PSN, then not playing them much.
  • rainn'sgaydar - August 26, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    I was expecting this to finally be a new game for my Vita, but those Murfy parts and holding me back. Glad to see this is good anyway!
  • rainn'sgaydar - August 26, 2013 9:39 a.m.

    Oh and how's the sound track? Origins' music was one of my favorite parts.
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - August 26, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    It's (unsurprisingly) awesome. Better than that of Origins IMO
  • BladedFalcon - August 26, 2013 4:18 p.m.

    Wow! And that is a tall order already, since I thought the Origins soundtrack was boss already. That being said. have to ask Ryan, is that partly because the covers of popular songs? or is the original music just as good or better than Origin's as well?
  • GR_RyanTaljonick - August 26, 2013 9:41 a.m.

    Sorry all, working on getting the video up.
  • TanookiMan - August 26, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    Hmm...I was going to pick this up for my Wii U, now I'm not so sure...
  • sergio-montenegro - August 26, 2013 11:40 a.m.

    Buy it! So far this is the only review that doesn't think the Wii U version is better :/ also, the scorre is almost perfect. It's an opportunity that you should not miss!
  • BladedFalcon - August 26, 2013 4:19 p.m.

    I think he made it clear he IS gonna buy it :P Just maybe not for the Wii U is all XD
  • sergio-montenegro - August 28, 2013 5:23 a.m.

    Yeah, that's why I'm saying it, the Wii U version is way better :S
  • skeletonlord - August 26, 2013 10:52 a.m.

    I am definitely going to pick this game up when it launches in the UK on Friday. I loved the origins version, pretty sure I will love this game.
  • shawksta - August 26, 2013 11:34 a.m.

    Nice Now if only a miracle can sell this considering its right next to GTA V
  • BladedFalcon - August 26, 2013 4:30 p.m.

    Well... Let's not forget That We all thought the same thing when Origins came out. What with it being released on the same week as CoD: MW3 and even Ubisoft's AC: Revelations. And yet the game managed to sell pretty well despite of that. Whether that was a fluke or a deceptively clever marketing move, I guess we'll find out for sure with this release XD
  • shawksta - August 26, 2013 6:51 p.m.

    Sure and honestly, sell or not, the sequel did excellently that justified Rayman big time to his roots. That's what I think is important.
  • KolbitosFruitJuice - August 26, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    Can't wait. This game oozes so much style, creativity and plain old fun.

Showing 1-20 of 49 comments

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