Rayman Legends - Preview

Rayman Legends Preview for Wii U, PS3, PS Vita and Xbox 360 at GAME

Make No Myth-takes.

When Rayman Legends was delayed earlier this year, Wii U owners were suitably unimpressed. Legends was originally due for launch in February as a Wii U-exclusive - until publisher Ubisoft changed its mind and made it a late August multiplatform release. It was a tough decision for fans of the game and equally hard for Rayman's developers, most notably the character's creator Michel Ancel. He and they had thought themselves finally at the finishing line of the project, only to be told the studio had another half a year of work to go.

Yet, six months on, Ancel and his team are all happy: the game is all the better for the delay, they say, and we can't help but agree. Ubisoft has spent the time polishing Legends and adding a number of new features which expand the game's already generous size and scope to voluminous proportions. For fans of Legends' predecessor, Rayman Origins, the game's appeal will be clear at once. Ubisoft has built another intricately crafted platformer with stylish hand-painted visuals and tight, breathless levels. It is another master class in design from Ancel and co., and one that has been buffed to a shine.

The side-scrolling adventure will take you to numerous beautifully created worlds, such as the Mexican Day of the Dead-themed Fiesta de la Muertos area, populated by dancing tequila worms and horn-playing skeletons in top hats. Another section blends the stealth of Ubisoft's Splinter Cell series with the steampunk world of Jules Verne, as Rayman must sneak and swim through dark tunnels without drawing attention from roving flashlights.

Rayman Legends Preview for Wii U, PS3, PS Vita and Xbox 360 at GAME

Heavy Rayman

Newly inserted into the game since February are specially-designed 3D bosses, a first for the game's engine, which now pop up to threaten Rayman and friends at the end of certain levels. We were pitted against a huge, hulking wrestler while balancing above a pit full of lava, a treacherous foe which simply didn't exist in the earlier version of the game.

Also new are the game's harder remixes of certain levels, now infiltrated by enemies from other areas. These "Invasion" trials will test even seasoned Rayman gamers to their limits, and earned those who managed to complete them while Ancel was watching a well-deserved round of applause. Another recently-announced inclusion - although it's unclear if this existed before the delay or not - are new versions of classic Rayman Origins levels, updated with Legends' extra visual shine and freshened up with a menagerie of new foes.

Another big addition is one that slipped in almost by accident: the mini-game Kung Foot, an end-to-end football kickathon with simple fighting mechanics. It can be played with any combination of four players (five on Wii U) and is astonishingly addictive. There are no rules other than to score goals, which means that players are forced to create their own tactics - do you keep two men up front? Hold one back as a goalie? - and, if our experience is anything to go by, vocalise your plans loudly.

Rayman Legends Preview for Wii U, PS3, PS Vita and Xbox 360 at GAME

Murphy's Lore

The only real downside to Legends is that the game's non-Wii U versions haven't been reproduced without concession. Ubisoft has had to alter the control mechanic of Rayman's touchscreen-controlled compadre Murphy, making him accessible now via a simple button press on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. Murphy is used in specific situations to alter the environment so Rayman and friends can progress, and will now move around the screen automatically, waiting to be activated. It's a less precise method of control that lacks the frantic fun of glancing from your TV to the GamePad, but probably the best compromise to be realistically found.

In that respect, at least, Wii U fans can be happy - they will get the game as it was intended, albeit later than planned. It's been a long wait - and some may still not agree that the changes and additions make up for the delay - but for anyone with any other console it has been a blessing. Legends will now be available to far more people than the Wii U's small userbase, and rightly so: it is a hugely enjoyable experience which deserves to be played by as many people as possible. If you have access to a PlayStation 3, PS Vita or Xbox 360, there is now no excuse.

SKU: Previews-241759
Release Date: 01/08/2013