Rayman LegendsOverview -
Despite the near twenty year history of the 'Rayman' franchise, complete with various spin-offs, 'Rayman Legends' has seemed entirely intertwined with the Wii U. The game was introduced to the public as a Wii U exclusive ahead of its (launch title) time only to be held back and ported to no less than five platforms. The question is, was it worth the wait?
Then again, fans of the 2011 'Rayman Origins' are likely to only care that a sequel was made and is probably available on their platform of choice. (Sorry Dreamcast) And so, what's left is a game that many may expect, but many more go into completely without knowledge of the series or what to expect.
There is no shortlist of games of that 'Rayman Legends' does not put to shame visually. The game's color pallet makes a rainbow look like a clumsy mess of unrealized potential. While 'Rayman Origins' is the obvious forbearer in design and implementation of visuals in the UbiArt Framework engine, a full host of what was next-gen visual tweaks have helped unify and imbue the levels, characters, and items with the stunning strokes of Ubisoft's Montepellier best. While the game is mainly 2D with level depth drawn into the player pane and assembled from 2D pieces in the background, there a few 3D cut scenes, and 2.5D level sequences. Those 2.5D sequences visually trump a gamut of games that have attempted the dark art.
Overall, simple but beautiful character and environment designs overcome any sensation that a given area lacks in detail. Furthermore, the glorious realization of each environment strengthens this reviewer's conviction of lightly detailed, flat-poly 3D environments common to current side-scrolling games. The only oddity is that when playing with Murphy and thereby playing the level on the GamePad, the inexpensive screen is obviously the lesser when compared with an HDTV. If used to only seeing the common muddy/teal looks of most current games and movies, the visual feast when starting game may quickly be spoiling, but once settled into play, the overall feel of the game will take precedence.
It is tempting to call the audio unremarkable as it is unlikely to stun in the way that other aspects of the game ought to manage. That is hardly cause for concern though, as the music just tends to be a sedate part of the experience. Sound effects are very suitable and reflect the kind of decision making needed to fill a game like this with sounds that are complimentary. Actual rhythm levels with their musical covers are inspired and it would not be surprising to see them as instant crowd favorites.
The various elements that come together to make a great co-op game often make the game in question seem like a diamond in the rough. With 'Rayman Legends,' the lack of online co-op may sentence many to a less-than-fulfilling playthrough. And yet, the masterful level design, which endlessly teaches the player clever ways to proceed, shines through a complete package that should engage anyone willing to attempt a platformer. Co-op or no, Ubisoft has an instant classic in hand that ought to endure much longer than most platformers. By setting such a high standard, the inevitable sequel or expansion may have to settle for being less impressive.
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