Electronic Theatre Preview: Rayman Legends

With only a few weeks until release the opportunity to get hands-on with Rayman Legends one last time prior to launch could not be passed up. An inventive experience originally designed for Wii U, Rayman Legends is now coming to most major console formats, and […]
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Electronic Theatre ImageWith only a few weeks until release the opportunity to get hands-on with Rayman Legends one last time prior to launch could not be passed up. An inventive experience originally designed for Wii U, Rayman Legends is now coming to most major console formats, and given the quality of the platform gameplay at hand very few would argue with Ubisoft’s decision to bring it to a wider audience.

Right from the very start Rayman Legends plays to all of the established platform genre conventions as if it were a bullet point checklist. Hidden routes, collectable items, extra hit points and much more besides; this is as formulaic as a platform experience could be, yet it’s so finely crafted that you can’t help but love it. The challenges that are set before the Electronic Theatre Imageplayer – or team of players – flow wonderfully, rivalling even the great pioneer Super Mario World in terms of steady increase in tension and dexterity development, and rarely do you feel as though a death has been at the hands of an unjust design. Rayman Legends is built for enjoyment, not persecution.

That’s not to say that it’s not tough, there are occasional obstacles that will tax both the mind and the thumbs. Boss fights are of course the staple, but the introduction of Murfy is also a point worth noting, especially on Wii U. Murfy is an external character indirectly controlled by all players on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, or by the player using the GamePad on Wii U (subsequent players use Wii Remotes, allowing up to five players on Wii U as opposed to the standard four on other formats). With Murfy players can cut ropes, pull chains, turn wheels and open doorways to allow access where there previously was none, potentially causing commotion on the aforementionedElectronic Theatre Image rival systems when each player attempts to instruct him for their own end rather than the good of the group. On Wii U it’s a more controlled chaos with a single player in charge, which has both its benefits and its disappointments. In realistic terms, the stronger choice of format will entirely depend on who you intend on playing the videogame with.

This goes doubly for the infamous music levels. Showcased early on as Rayman Legends’ inspired addition to the Rayman Origins formula, these fast-paced levels live-and-die on your sense of rhythm. Jumping and committing to actions based on your own assessment of the beat, these levels are a wonderful addition to the traditional platform formula that are equally as complex in their design as they are in their delivery; you need not know Electronic Theatre Imagethe songs before playing each level as the rhythm will come to you naturally, however it’s likely that you will given that the selection seen so far is predominately internationally successful nursery rhymes and pop music.

In addition to all this genuinely captivating original content comes to additional gameplay modes: one which is interesting and another which is ridiculously addictive. Rayman Legends features thirty of the original Rayman Origins levels redrawn to accommodate the new characters. This isn’t a case of being cheap and skimping on new content but rather offering an entirely optional additional gameplay mode. What’s more, the Rayman Kung Foot mode is a mini-game masterpiece akin to Super Monkey Ball 2’s Monkey Tennis or Super Mario Kart’s Battle Mode.

Halfway between football and volleyball two-to-four (or five on Wii U) players can join to create teams of any size they like and battle it out on a single screen.  A ball enters the arena and it a mad scramble to bat it into your opponent’s goal. Most Electronic Theatre Imagegoals in two minutes wins. It may sound simple, but the amazing amount of depth that is drawn out of the incredibly accessible control system can only be compared to that of Super Smash Bros.: players can tap, punt, volley, lob and stomp on the ball with reckless abandon, dashing back-and-forth across the small space and clashing with one another almost as much as they do with the ball. Playing against opposition of a similar skill level is intense, regularly as frustrating as it is exhilarating in a two minute session that can feel like ten times that. Rayman Kung Foot may not be a component that could make or break Rayman Legends as an videogame package, but it Electronic Theatre Imagesurely can support several hours of competitive entertainment all by itself.

Having been witness to a near-final build it’s easy to suggest that Rayman Legends is looking set to become the finely tuned follow-up to Rayman Origins that we’ve all been hoping for. It’s equally as compelling when playing solo as it is with a full quota of friends, and the quality of it’s platform design could not be challenged throughout all that Electronic Theatre has experienced and the addition of Rayman Kung Foot simply makes Rayman Legends as welcomingly humorous as it is elegantly orchestrated. It won’t be long until the final build is here at Electronic Theatre and an in-depth review is available to you, but in the mean time it’s probably best you dig out Rayman Origins and brush up on those high speed platforming skills; you’re going to need them.

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