Rayman Origins impressed platforming fans with its gorgeous art style and satisfying controls. Ubisoft is bringing back Rayman and friends for more in Rayman Legends, coming to Wii U, PS3, 360, and now the PlayStation Vita. The Wii U and Vita versions let players interact with traps and platforms using the touchscreen, like swiping to cut a rope suspending a foe. The 360 and PS3 versions don’t include touch gameplay, but they still have the same great controls and a variety of vivid environments. I played the PlayStation 3 version of the game during a pre-E3 event in Santa Monica, CA.
In Legends, players explore a variety of worlds by leaping into painting portals. The one my fellow players and I jump into focuses on deep-sea espionage. Rayman and friends avoid a series of laser traps and motion detector lights while infiltrating a Rapture-like facility on the ocean floor. Swimming through the water past floating mines and traps feels responsive, alleviating the frustration commonly found with underwater platforming levels. Dashing past moving lasers and smacking enemy guards also feels more responsive than the original. The reliable controls make it easy to focus on memorizing the movements of platforms and traps.
The demo concludes with a boss fight against a gigantic mechanical sea serpent. The beast strikes just as we pass through a cylindrical glass passageway, causing the underwater base to flood. A fast-paced race against time ensues as we rush to evade the rising water. Defeated players still turn into bubbles and are resurrected by hitting them, keeping the annoying sting out of death. The group is armed with a cartoony firearm after running to safety. The final showdown is fought along three shifting platforms while the serpent attacks from both sides. Players use a moving piece of debris to block the serpent’s deadly breath. The beast is spent after unleashing attacks, leaving him vulnerable to a volley of gunfire. The monster falls after the group wipes out a few times, but everyone is still smiling when the dust settles.
This brief look has me optimistic that Ubisoft can improve on Rayman Origins’ successful formula. The improved lighting and subtle implementation of 3D models further brings the world to life. The rhythm sections based on remixes of classic songs are also a toe-tapping break from standard platforming levels. I’m confident these elements could come together to make an endearing, challenging follow-up to the original. The game hits 360, PS3, Wii U, and Vita September 3.