First Impressions: Rayman Legends

An absolute jaw-dropper

Ubisoft's Rayman Origins was praised for its amazing 2D visuals, lush environments and solid platforming. So when word leaked out that Ubisoft was working on a possible sequel, fans of the limbless one sat up and took notice.

After finding out the game would be shown at E3 on Nintendo's upcoming Wii U console, the thought of seeing another 2D Rayman title on a system with significant graphical horsepower, and one of the most unique controllers we've ever seen, quickly made it one of our most highly-anticipated titles of the show. And one short peek of Rayman Legends running on an HDTV was all it took to see that Rayman Legends might very well be one of the most beautiful games we've seen so far.

After heading upstairs to Nintendo's VIP area of its booth, the first game we asked to see was Rayman Legends. While we expected to be handed the unique Wii U GamePad controller, we were a bit surprised to find out that the main game itself was to be played using the new Wii U Pro Controller instead, leaving the Wii U GamePad for the second player to complete simple tasks that would help the other player complete the level.

The levels and controls are extremely similar in design and execution to those of Rayman Origins. Most of the same moves have been carried over and it didn't take any time at all for us to begin blazing our way through the lush landscapes that were offered up. Of course it wasn't long until we came to a section where we were going to need some help, and that's where the second player with the Wii U GamePad came into play.

Player 2 takes control of Murphy and, using the controller's gyro and touchscreen controls, begins manipulating certain sections and items on-screen to make it possible for Player 1 to navigate their way through hazards. This ranges from simple tasks such as stunning enemies and cutting ropes needed to swing on, to more intricate challenges like rotating wheel-style platforms in circular motions by tilting the Wii U controller: this is in order for Rayman to avoid deadly spikes and reach ledges that would normally be out of reach. Despite this sounding a bit complicated, the puzzles that this demo introduced really made the game quite fun for both players.

As enjoyable and unique as the play-style is in Rayman Legends, nothing can compare to the absolutely gorgeous visuals displayed not only on the HDTV screen, but also the vibrant Wii U GamePad touchscreen. The multiple layered scrolling and lighting effects only add to the already staggering graphical presentation, and you'll find yourself getting caught up in the scenery around you as you make your way through the adventure. It might be a launch title, but it certainly doesn't look like one in any way, shape or form.

In our view, there's absolutely no way to come away from Rayman Legends on Wii U without being completely blown away by the game from top to bottom. Not only are you getting a continuation of the highly-regarded Rayman Origins title, but you're getting some extremely original gameplay twists that are all made possible by the Wii U GamePad. Toss in an audio/visual production that rivals anything we've ever seen in 2D video gaming, and you've got a Wii U title that will likely find its way into a significant number of early-adopter's collections when the system launches this holiday season.