A few weeks ago I had what could only be called a surreal experience. It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was sitting down with Will Smith and Indiana Jones, who I’m pretty sure was Spanish but I could be mistaken, playing a game. My concentration however was not entirely on the game as I was also engaged in conversation with Marilyn Monroe about learning the guitar, the state of British rock music, and the comedy of Bill Hicks. It was certainly one of my more interesting Wednesdays.
• Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
• Publisher: Ubisoft
• Reviewed on: Xbox 360
• Also Available On: Wii U, PS3, PC, PS Vita
• Release Date: 09/03/13 (US) / 30/08/13(EU)
This was not a dream or a drug induced hallucination: I was Ubisoft’s guest at Planet Hollywood for a hands on of the upcoming Rayman: Legends.
The first thing I’ll say about Rayman: Legends is it’s absolutely beautiful, the hand drawn art style closely resembling something from the most colourful recesses of Terry Gilliam’s imagination come to life. The levels themselves are as detailed and charming as the characters, with multiple background layers giving them a depth missing from other 2D platform games and helping them seem more alive than most 3D worlds.
The design of the levels is absolutely inspired and some of the most creative I have ever seen, the stand out for me being a level named Castle Rock, a level that can only describe as a rhythm action platformer, with more in common with Guitar Hero than Super Mario that fans of Ram Jam will get a real kick out of. I was smiling from beginning to end, everything on screen ticking all the right boxes. Several levels from Rayman: Origins have also been touched up and included as cheeky extras which should please returning fans.
Like Origins before it, Rayman: Legends can be played as a single or multiplayer game with up to four friends on the Wii, and three on PS3 and Xbox 360. The multiplayer is a lot of fun and works incredibly well, taking a leaf out of Little Big Planet’s book of co-op by allowing a friendly competition and a pinch mild violence toward the other players on screen. As hectic as the action gets with four players on screen at once it never becomes overwhelming. It comes close, but never tips over the edge.
The single player works just as well, but like all other co-op games, playing solo misses some of the fun and excitement that comes from playing with friends. It’s obvious that this was made with multiplayer in mind, so that is where it excels.
Multiplayer isn’t limited to replaying levels with friends either, oh no, there are a plethora of mini games to be enjoyed with friends; the stand out of the day being a football inspired game that saw two teams of two manically battling it out on a two dimensional pitch trying to score as many goals as possible in the allotted time. It was messy, it was crazy, and most importantly it was fun.
The Wii U has a little something extra in its multiplayer in the form of Murfy the fairy. Four players use Wii Remotes to control Rayman and his motley crew, while a fifth player use the Wii GamePad to control Murfy via the touch screen to clear obstacles, distract enemies, and move platforms for the his friends to traverse the dozens of levels on offer.
On the Xbox 360 and PS3 Murfy flies through the levels automatically, hovering around points of interest in a set pattern until player one presses a button to put him into action. Nothing will beat the accuracy of having another player control Murfy, but the system Ubisoft have put in place works well enough, and it certainly wont cause any problems on the other systems. I’d also like to add that I asked if Murfy would be usable on the PS3 via the Vita, but unfortunately nobody at the event was able to give me an answer (but they agreed it was a good idea) so we’ll have to wait and see.
Rayman: Legends includes an insane amount of playable characters, and even though many are just re-skins of characters they all look great and should stop any arguments about who gets to play as the titular limbless hero. The fallout’s will instead be about who gets to play which particular skin, as there are a lot on offer with some including a nod to the best of Ubisoft’s roster.
It’s safe to say then, that Rayman: Legends is shaping up to be a wonderful addition to the franchise, and definitely one to keep an eye out for when it’s released later this month.
Tags: Rayman, Rayman Legends, Ubisoft
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