Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Games on the Ave: Gamespot's Rayman Legends Review

Available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Windows PC





Did you know ducks could wall-jump? Well, maybe not all ducks. But fowl sprouting the head of a certain limbless hero definitely can. Rayman Legends is unabashedly weird--relishes in the bizarre even--though never to the detriment of its fantastic action sequences. As you dash across platforms to the beat of a mariachi "Eye of the Tiger," or tickle armored guards to lower their defenses, you realize that Legends is strange with a purpose. It uses absurd scenes to imbue this feisty adventure with enough variety to keep you continually amazed, and presents every disparate scenario with expert care. Rayman Legends' off-kilter identity serves as the foundation for this wild and crazy journey.

Momentum is the name of the game in this 2D platformer. Rayman runs, leaps, swings, glides, and swims with a kinetic grace that compels you ever onward. Being able to squeeze past spikes and thunder across toppling towers should be expected in any adventure that presents such formidable challenges, but what makes Legends special is how joyful such movements are. Rayman chains moves together so effortlessly that you often get lost in the rhythm. Pirouette across a series of platforms at top speed and then rocket toward earth in a ground-shaking slam. Follow that up by immediately bashing a nearby baddie before bounding up that vertical shaft. Such combinations roll off your fingers as you venture deeper into this fantastical world.
It's when Legends picks up steam that its impressive potential is reached. Varied situations keep you wondering what's going to come your way next. You may play red light, green light with a security system in an underwater fortress, or catch a ride on an updraft as you wind your way through spikes and parachuting meanies. Boss fights demand an inventive spark as you dodge their plentiful attacks while trying to puzzle out how to retaliate in kind. Your hovering pal Murfy may join you in some levels, spreading guacamole or poking creatures in the eye at your command. Plunging to the briny deep to torpedo past booby traps is particularly impressive. So often swimming segments derail the breezy derring-do of a platformer, but Legends makes the oceanic sections a high point. Fast and smooth, swimming's unshackled movement makes overcoming deep-sea dangers a satisfying detour.
A smooth difficulty curve welcomes those unfamiliar with Rayman's hijinks without annoying those well versed in the art of jumping. Achieving such a precarious balance is a testament to how enjoyable the core mechanics are. Despite minimal challenge early on, the sheer pleasure of dashing through these beautiful worlds urges you forward. And there are hidden collectibles that require a curious mind to track them down. Shining lums and crying teensies are waiting to be discovered, and nabbing all of them unlocks myriad rewards. There are goofy-looking creatures, additional playable heroes, and even dozens of stages from Rayman Origins. Such ample treasures make exploration well worth your time, and the fact that the early challenges are purely optional ensures that everyone can enjoy this game from the onset.

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