Although the platforming genre’s heyday has predominantly passed, it is still quite popular with gamers. After all, Mario generally continues to exude excellence, forcing his competitors to up their game plans or risk being forgotten. Sure, we’re certainly not seeing the volume of new genre entries and iterations like we did back in the 1990s, but that’s not to say it isn’t still going strong within a market that nowadays favours shooters over side-scrollers. Things have just changed.
The calendar year of 2013 was great to those who love to run, jump, climb and swim from left to right, throughout creative and colourful courses. One of the main reasons for this was the return of Ubisoft’s limbless wonder, Rayman, whose latest epic, Rayman Legends, received rave reviews and ended up challenging for Game of the Year honours. However, as we all know, his competition was stiff, being that the Big N countered with a fantastic title of its own, that being Super Mario 3D World. Still, despite that, Michel Ancel and the rest of the Ubisoft Montpellier team delivered what some consider the best platformer of the year. In all honesty, I’m not sure of where I stand there, because I loved both games at a nearly equal level. However, I would never argue with someone if they told me that they considered Rayman to be the quality-based victor. Legends was simply that good, and also that unforgettable. I mean, I’ll never forget its incredible Castle Rock stage, which is perfectly and hilariously timed to the song “Black Betty.”
In order to reach gamers who maybe overlooked the title during its first go around, Ubisoft has now released Rayman Legends onto both Xbox One and PlayStation 4, providing the two new next gen systems with their own upgraded versions of the hit sequel to 2011′s Rayman Origins. Recently, we were given the opportunity to take the PS4 version for a spin, and have come away smiling.
Having previously loved and reviewed the game on Nintendo’s Wii U, I was happy to hear about its next gen re-release. Still, with that said, I wondered how much better the game would be on the systems’ superior tech, given how great it looked and how well it played on the lesser tech of the aforementioned touch-heavy console. Truthfully, and unsurprisingly, the PlayStation 4 iteration doesn’t feel a heck of a lot different, or amazingly better. It is a bit better in most regards, though, making it a slightly superior version in my mind. Granted, it comes with a price; that being the loss of the neat co-operative mechanics that were made available through the GamePad’s touchscreen.
Outside of the one major change that is noted above, this release is nearly identical to the other version I played. It remains full of great content — including a fantastic, colourful and creative campaign, which features several unique levels that are timed to catchy tunes, as well as visually enhanced ones from Rayman Origins — meaning it continues to offer what could be referred to as two games for the price of one. On top of that, there are hidden collectibles and unlocks for completionists, such as scratch and win cards that can be interacted with via the touchpad, and unique creatures who lay items on a daily basis.
Now, if you’ve never played Rayman Legends before then I recommend that you check out my original review of the game, as it stands as our most comprehensive opinion piece. I will make mention, though, that the game’s storyline is merely a reason for existence, and isn’t anything to write home about. It simply follows the limbless protagonist and his friends (who can be used in solo play or during cooperative shenanigans), as they fight against nightmares in an attempt to save captured teensies. Each level has a certain amount of the occasionally well-hidden blue guys, and they’re used as currency for progression.
The gameplay was, and still is, fantastic, thanks to a list of levels that is steeped in quality, variety and humour. Within said stages, one must run, jump, bounce, float, swim, fly and climb in order to get from a starting point to an ending point, in traditional platforming fashion. Colourful evildoers dot the landscapes, and will sometimes chase you or engage you as bosses. It’s relatively traditional stuff on paper, but becomes memorable when it’s seen in action, or played.
What’s good about Legends is that it promotes expression and community involvement. Daily and weekly challenges are available, in addition to leaderboard support, meaning that you can challenge your friends in order to see who’s best. Scores from the regular stages can also be shared, and pictures can be taken during gameplay, simply by clicking the Dualshock 4′s touchpad and following directional prompts. Additionally, the roster of available character costumes — of which there were originally many — has been bolstered by the inclusion of platform specific options. While the Xbox One gets the likes of Ray Vaas, Globox Vaas and Splinter Ray, Sony’s device gets Assassin Ray. That means that if you’re into showing off your love of other Ubisoft titles, you’ll be able to do so through those outfits.
Rounding out the differences between this re-release and its Wii U counterpart are nearly nonexistent load times, the ability to control Murphy using a button during solo play and slightly improved visuals.
Even though Nintendo’s console isn’t as powerful as its competitors’ next gen ones, Legends looked fantastic on it. In fact, it looked so good that it’s hard to say that the title looks noticeably better here. It does look great, though, and also runs incredibly well. The lack of loading times is a huge benefit too, and the audio continues to be quirky, original and strong.
What this all boils down to is a win-win situation for us gamers. That’s because a fantastic title is now available for the industry’s most notable consoles. As a result, folks who missed it the first time it was released can give it a shot on advanced hardware, while those who loved it can choose to double-dip if they so please. The changes found here aren’t noteworthy enough to make this updated iteration of Rayman Legends stand out as a major upgrade, but it’s still a great package nonetheless. Plus, when you consider that it has launched at a budget $40 (USD) price point, it’s made even more impressive.
This review is based on the PS4 version of the game, which we were provided with.