Rayman Legends PS3 & Vita review – a platforming masterclass
When faced with playfulness and creativity of this magnitude, it’s tempting to get caught up in the moment. So before I start writing this from the perspective of a Lum, or my own thumbs, let’s cut to the chase: Ubisoft Montpellier has delivered the best platformer PS3 has seen in years. An artisanal side-scroller full of invention and a Chuck Norris handshake grasp of what makes games fun.
Rayman Legends PS3 & Vita review
There’s plenty to gush about so let’s get the one notable grievance out of the way first: Rayman’s still an insipid wazzock. It’s arguably something about his expression, a self-satisfied smile that says, “This is all slightly beneath me.” He could learn a lot from Mario’s blue-collar, can-do grin. It’s because of this unengaging hero and his less-than-iconic supporting cast of Teensies and Lums that Legends is something of a sneak attack. It’s crammed with daily challenges, a Plants vs Zombies Zen Garden-style creature cave, unlockables, skins and tons of bonus Rayman Origins levels. Initially it feels perplexingly big-budget and content-rich for such a lukewarm franchise. Any ambivalence lasts precisely one level, though. “That was nice,” you say, eyes awash with impossibly detailed, painterly 2D visuals, brain hypnotised by the pixel-perfect layout of the level you just finished. “I’ll do another one.”
The fairy tale woods make way to waterfalls, caves, ancient Greece and Mexican street food being eaten by giant worms. You’re turned into a chicken, miniaturised, almost roasted by dragons, challenged to impromptu football games and left guessing whether the next level will be a free-fall, speed-run, boss battle or rhythm-action/platformer hybrid. “My, is that the time?” you say, in a dusty croak, noticing your limbs have atrophied and robots have enslaved humanity.
Level design is so good – so intricate, yet always presenting the right level of challenge – that you take for granted how effortlessly it pulls off each chapter’s musical finale. Racing through a crumbling castle in sync with a gibberish version of Ram Jam’s Black Betty has no right to be this thrilling. It should feel akin to touring a Pilgrim’s Choice factory floor with Keith Chegwin.
You’re left guessing whether the next level
will be a free-fall, speed-run, boss battle or rhythm-action/platformer hybrid
Ol’ Ray just doesn’t slip up. Checkpoints are smartly placed, controls are responsive and movement is weighted with an intertia and momentum that feels natural. As with Sonic’s latter day highlights, its bounce pads, ropes and doohickeys are placed so that if you stop thinking and trust the game to hurl you forwards, you get an incredible rush of not knowing how you cleared the last 30 seconds because it happened quicker than your fast twitch fibres can react to. The company might not be stellar, but the journey is just that. Like visiting the seven wonders of the world… with Joey Essex.