By Dave Haldane
If you've come here hoping for a review replete with loads of changes and advancements to the next-gen version of Rayman Legends, you’d best prepare for disappointment. There's very little to add in this new iteration, so if you've played it before, don't expect anything mind-bogglingly new. That said, the new version does remove some of the quirks and niggles that marred an otherwise perfect experience. For this article I’ll focus on the version differences and refer you to Cav’s current-gen review for a more detailed look at the game itself.
I first played Rayman Legends on the Wii U. As such, one of the biggest differences to my experience was that the touchpad levels were completely different. Gone were the Teensies auto-running through the level whilst you manipulated hazards using the touchpad. What replaced it was a similar, if a little more boring, concept. You now run the level yourself hitting a button every so often to make Murphy automatically manipulate hazards. I’d hoped that connecting my Vita in “second screen” mode would bring back some of the Wii U gameplay, but it wasn't the case. Keep that in mind if you've got multiple consoles at home and you're looking to pick up the game.
Despite Ubisoft’s claims of improvement, I was unable to discern any difference in graphical quality. I ran the Wii U and Playstation 4 copies side by side and managed to -- if I tried really hard -- convince myself of a slight improvement during cutscenes… maybe. For such a stylised and pristinely presented game, it was hard to see how they could improve it so, I suppose, a lack of discernible improvement was to be expected.
So what else is different? Both versions score some new heroes (costumes), with the Playstation 4 version getting an Assassin’s Creed 4 hero whilst its Xbox One counterpart receives Splinter Cell and Far Cry 3 getups. Both versions also have the option to purchase Funky Ray using uPlay points.
Aside from new heroes, there are a few more system specific benefits to each version. The Xbox One copy gains some unique challenges whilst the Playstation 4 integrates the Share button and allows crossplay with a PlayStation Vita. The integrated Share button is a nice feature, but the crossplay is the big winner in my books. For those unaware, crossplay means you can pause your game on the PS4 and resume playing on the Vita. No more pausing to go to work or the toilet; just take your game with you! Crossplay in Rayman Legends has the additional benefit that certain features and controls automatically remap to take advantage of the Vita’s unique control inputs. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear running the Vita in second screen mode does anything at the moment.
The greatest improvement in the next-gen version is, perhaps, the least obvious; its performance gain. Load times for levels and respawns are almost non existent to the point that Ubisoft has done away with the silhouette load screen completely. This may seem like a small thing, however instant reloads when playing challenges or levels make for a very smooth experience with very little disruption or downtime.
Aside from those minor differences this game is, essentially, the same; something with which I have no problem whatsoever. Rayman Legends was near-perfect before and this new version seems to address minor quirks rather than change it up.
What makes Legends so great is it's non-linear approach and gameplay variety. Steering clear of the “tried and tested” forest, desert, lava and ice levels, Rayman Legends gives the player different means to complete a level rather than remaining a platformer and just varying the environment. Turn into a duck, shrink, swim, flat, fly… it’s all there! The variety of the levels is enough to keep the game constantly interesting whilst the visuals and music provide the “wow factor” to keep you amazed. Don’t believe me? Watch the Castle Rock level on Youtube and tell me that’s not an innovative way to mix up a level. The collectibles and additional challenges of each level coupled with the fantastic checkpoint/replay controls mean that there's no reason not to replay levels... unless you hate gaming. Do you hate games?
The non-linearity of level selection is a real winner for Legends. New levels have requirements that must be met before they unlock however multiple worlds are simultaneously available meaning, if you're stuck in one, you can jump into another and keep playing. Or, if you get tired of the regular levels, you can go try challenge mode, remastered levels from Rayman Origins or a coop minigame, Kung Foot.
Difficulty-wise, Rayman falls into that “easy to play, hard to master” category. Most gamers shouldn’t have trouble completing the game however getting all the secret areas and levels can be quite challenging. Personally I felt the difficulty level was just right. There weren't many areas where I felt the game was unfair; it was more a case of me needing to practice a little more and get my moves right.
So is it worth getting? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes... but allow me to quantify. If you already own the game there’s very little about this version that will add to your experience. You could replay the single save on your current version and get a very similar experience. If you’ve never played Rayman Legends, want a whole new set of trophies/achievements or just want an additional copy so you can have your own save game then it’s well worth the purchase.