Review: Rayman Legends (PS4)

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Title: Rayman Legends
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (8.5 GB)
Release Date: February 18, 2014
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Rayman Legends is also available on PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC.
The PlayStation 4 disc version was used for this review.

Rayman has shown tenacity over the years, especially since the series started on the ill-fated Atari Jaguar (and very soon after on other platforms of the time.) Even though a short foray into 3D space occurred, the Rayman series has always excelled where others have failed as a side-scrolling platformer by bringing a fantastic quality of comedy and enjoyment without ever uttering a word. We had Rayman Origins not too long ago, and Legends is already a fantastic game on the PS3, so what could they have done to make it better on PS4?

Gameplay:
Rayman Legends is one of the last, classic platformer series out there, and it’s definitely one of the best. Unlike past games in the series, you have all of your moves available right from the start too. Controls are simple with only an attack on the Square button, jump with X, and run with R2. You can also slowly float when you hit X again, which activates little helicopter blades on Rayman’s head. For attacks you can both hold Square to build a stronger hit, or you can jump down and hit Square to attack the ground. Also, on some specific levels, you’ll gain powers for things like boss fights, again all activated by using Square.

RaymanLegends1 Screen Shot 2:16:14, 12.54 PM

Level design, in my opinion, is much better than what they were in Rayman Origins. There’s great variety and an impressive number of levels to play overall, and there’s quite a lot of extra content to keep you busy. Since this game was originally meant to be an exclusive of the Wii U, there was some touchscreen controller functionality that had to be translated, specifically with a second player being able to control your friend Murfy. Unfortunately, that specific function wasn’t added to the PS4 version, even though there were rumors that a second player would be able to do so via the Vita or even the touchpad on a second controller. So in the levels that Murfy is present to help Rayman, you’ll simply press Circle when he needs to have Murfy interact with an item on the screen, which in its own right offers a different experience than many of the other levels.

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There’s also a good amount of extra content available, including some levels from Rayman Origins, a 4-player side-view Soccer game called “Kung Foot”, and online daily and weekly challenges. I don’t know how many levels are in the main game, but there’s definitely a great deal of content available in Rayman Legends. There’s a good variety of themes, gameplay and content, with many other characters to use. One thing that just brings a smile to my face are the music levels that sync the gameplay elements to remixed versions of some popular songs. The first one you’ll encounter has you running on top of a castle to a version of “Black Betty”, with everything timed perfectly to the beats of the song. It’s something really special that I truly appreciate as a design decision, and it works so well.

Visuals:
Here’s where the big question comes into play. Rayman Legends already looks amazing on PS3, running at 1080P/60FPS. So what does bringing the game to PS4 add to already beautiful game? Well, it still runs at 1080P/60FPS, but now the framerate is completely locked at 60, and now, the textures are uncompressed (and much more detailed.) Also, since they have so much more memory to work with, there aren’t any load times any more, anywhere. Moving from screen-to-screen is seamless now, and after a while, it’ll spoil you. Also an exclusive feature on the PS4 is the new Photo Mode, so at any time in the game, press the touchpad and it pauses, allowing you to pinch the touchpad to zoom in and out. Also, exclusive to PS4 is the unlockable character “Assassin Ray”, which is actually who I play as.

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Audio:
As expected if you’ve played a Rayman game in the past, the soundtrack is as wonderful as it’s ever been, with a mix of classical and a bit of whimsy. Then you get these great surprises occasionally with the Rock levels that bring the perfect change of pace and artistry. Environmental and gameplay sounds are great as well, and nothing ever gets repetitive.

Online/Multiplayer:
As mentioned above, daily and weekly challenges are available, both with online leaderboards. Also, since this is Ubisoft, there’s uPlay integration. Here’s the surprise though, it actually works!! Earn credits as you complete challenges which can be used to purchase in-game content. I actually unlocked the “Mountain of Lums” in uPlay, and the in-game integration had no problems.

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Conclusion:
I’ve always been a fan of the series, and Rayman Legends is definitely the best one so far. Remote Play on the Vita is flawless, the visuals are reference-quality, the soundtrack is excellent, and the gameplay is fantastic. I haven’t found anything that I don’t like yet, and since there’s so much to find and play, it’s definitely going to last a long time in my PS4. If you’re a fan of platformers, you need to add this game to your library, and for $40, it’s the best “port” on the market. Plus, with some couch-co-op elements available, it helps fill that gap on “next-gen” platforms.

Score:
10

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Elgato Game Capture HD

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