We tend to be big story buffs, so it’s with some surprise that we admit in this Rayman Legends review to enjoying the game in spite of its complete lack of a meaningful story. But you know what? It doesn’t really need it. The Rayman franchise has long been loved by families for its platformer prowess, a tradition that Legends upholds with aplomb. When the platforming is this good, the game doesn’t need cheap plotlines about princesses or alien invasions to keep you entertained. Just press start and let the fun commence.
Rayman Legends began its life as a Wii U exclusive, eventually making its way to Xbox 360 and PS3 sans the GamePad integration. You’d never know it was a port, because the controls seem natively smooth, the gameplay is smoother, and the graphics are absolutely stunning on Xbox 360. Up to four players can jump, glide and battle their way simultaneously through remarkably detailed levels, including some sections that are only accessible using certain characters or skills. Watching the action unfold, even as a bystander rather than a player, is like seeing an interactive cartoon come to life before your eyes.
The platforming fare doesn’t break the mold, but Rayman Legends does it all so well that it makes even the most pedestrian gameplay mechanic seem fresh. Whether you’re punching Dark Teensies, saving good Teensies, collecting Lums or timing a jump to keep from falling to your demise, the game just has a level of polish rarely seen in a so-called “family” game.
Each level technically falls within a themed chapter, with subsequent chapters and missions unlocked as you achieve certain Lum or Teensie milestones. Yet while the levels are loosely tied together in this way, they still seem distinct enough to feel almost unrelated. More often than not I’d label this a bad thing; a sense of consistency and logical progression are good. Yet the self-contained design of each level in Rayman Legends makes each mission seem like its own event — and fully rewarding on its own.
Now, one of the more rewarding mission types in Rayman Legends is the musical levels, which require rhythmic button presses to keep your player moving. In these levels, your player must keep moving forward while timing jumps and attacks to the beat of the background music. This is a ton of fun, even when you fail, and there’s plenty of room to continually improve and master the beats. Other new elements include stealth-like levels where you have to avoid spotlights; a few shooting-type levels; and many instances where you have to pull platforms, cut ropes or otherwise alter the environment using Murfy the Fairy.
As you complete the five main worlds you’ll unlock a host of bonus missions and, amazingly, a metric ton of remastered missions from Rayman Origins. You’ll also encounter a bevy of timed online challenges that Ubisoft creates but the entire community can try to tackle, giving you an opportunity to aim for your personal best while also trying to dethrone the folks on your Friends list. The sheer amount of content these additions provide is staggering, making Rayman Legends one of the best gaming values around.
I’d heard some good praise in a Rayman Legends review here and there, but since I don’t have a Wii U I was left out of the hands-on experience. Having now played a lot of Rayman Legends on Xbox 360, I now know what all the fuss was about. And yes, it’s totally warranted. A little more cohesion within the game worlds would’ve been nice, but it doesn’t detract on the whole from the greater experience. Rayman has historically been a strong series, but Rayman Legends takes platforming to a new level of polish and pizazz.
Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360