Reflection is good. It’s nice to look back on was has been and, remember the great achievements of times gone past. I’d like to think that’s why Game of the Year awards are so popular, not just so we can screech at each other about supposedly wrong opinions – something that’s sadly all to common in the world of video games. We’ve admittedly left our Top Ten Games of 2013 list a little later than most but, we did so that we might better experience all of last years big titles, in the hopes we don’t leave any great experiences unrepresented. 2013 was a fantastic year that saw some truly staggering games hit as the last generation systems gave way to the next. Seventh position is awarded to the fantastically beautiful Rayman Legends.
Rayman Legends – Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, Vita (and Playstation 4 and Xbox One in 2014)
They’re few games that even approach the stylised beauty of Rayman Legends – let alone in the last year. It’s colourful artwork in motion design makes it impossibly charming but, it’s the addictive tight core gameplay and, incredible variety in level design that make it so damn hard to put the controller down. In fusing an artistic triumph with generous heaps of content Ubisoft has created an absolute winner. Rayman Legends is a more than a worthy follow up of 2011’s series return to form Rayman Origins. I spent every second with the game with a big dopey grin plastered across my face and, I’d be willing to bet that the developers had that same smile smeared across theirs when they made it – Legends is just smile inducing fun beginning to end.
That unique look it adorns proudly is thanks to Ubisoft’s ingenious Ubi-Art engine whose marvellous party trick allows the studio’s talented artists to effectively insert their concept drawing directly into the game. The result is an experience that looks meticulously handcrafted; caringly constructed by talented individuals. Characters, environments and effects jump from overacting imaginations straight into reality. Each of Rayman’s worlds look as dazzling as the last which is truly impressive considering the high standard, even better none are just straightforward romps through overused genre stereotypes. The forest world for example is spruced up with castle invasion story arc starting in the woods before reaching its climax within the castle walls over numerous stages and, that’s just the first world. There’s no dialogue the visuals masterfully tell the goofy story but, it’s not the main concern; it breathes life into the already stunning world without detracting from the gameplay.
Mechanically Legends is an absolute joy too. Rayman and, his companions in their many guises handle impeccably – theres no slidey landings or floaty jumps everything is totally precise allowing skilled players to pull off impressive feats. That precision is something they’ll need to overcome some of Legends most difficult challenges, it’s by no means an easy game, especially toward the end. By removing lives and, liberally scattering checkpoints Ubisoft somehow subverts the frustration of death, instead of raised tempers I found myself itching to try again. I never had a moment that made me want to switch off, I just wanted to keep going, no matter the odds, to see what silly surprise lay around that next corner.
Levels are so diverse in the ideas they present, story chapters have players use sidekick Murfy to move blocks as they run, eat through cake to clear space, hide from spotlights to avoid missiles and, the list goes on. New ideas are introduced perpetually and, as sharply as they appear they return to the void once more. The experience is kept fresh throughout thanks to this fast paced cycle of introduction and discarding. The wealth of content in addition to the main story is phenomenal. Fiendish time trials unlock through playing, the entirety of Rayman Origins campaign is playable, they’re hordes of unlockable costumes, tons of pets to collect and, simply breathtaking playable musical levels that are set to just blow you away.
Rayman Legends is undoubtedly 2013’s best 2D platformer. It’s phenomenally beautiful, mechanically wonderful, rammed with different ideas, both challenging and never frustrating. It offers up an unbelievable level of content for it’s asking price. I didn’t even mention daily/ weekly community trials nor that you can bring four players along for the ride in its entirety. Simply put, Rayman Legends is an absolute must play.