What’s more, you rarely feel bogged down with any one element for long, just because the game is generally so superbly paced. The platform-jumping and puzzling segments are expertly balanced with quickfire gunfights and a handful of other action sequences. The battles show off an effective targeting system and some reasonable enemy AI, and the way you can integrate acrobatic rolls or target explosive barrels keeps them feeling fresh and dynamic – think Mission Impossible II, not Rambo.
The fights aren’t as exhausting, repetitive or annoyingly difficult as they can be in the Prince of Persia games – you might not have the range of Matrix moves the Prince has seemingly on tap, but at least you don’t groan every time you see a pack of goons. There’s a feeling that Crystal Dynamics has taken the John Woo-style gunplay which was one of the few good things about the movies and run with it for the game.
That goes double for the motorcycle chase sequences. Again, they’re the sort of thing I usually dread, but Crystal Dynamics has filled them with just enough action and crazy stunts to keep them feeling lively, without making them an obtrusive barrier to progress. The bike controls well, the jumps are spectacular, and there are some really nice action hero moments. Compare them to the lumpen, thrill-free car chases in EA’s James Bond adaptations and you can see clearly how these things should and shouldn’t be done.
I’d even guess that someone has been playing Resident Evil 4, because we get the same ‘quicktime event’ sequences where Lara only evades a cruel fate if you can press the highlighted button PDQ. Once again, these should be annoying, but they’re not – primarily because Crystal Dynamics has always had the sense to put a checkpoint right before them. In fact, the checkpointing is one of the key strengths of the game. While placing them further apart might have added dramatically to the challenge and the play time, I’d argue that the way they obviate the need to replay large and difficult chunks of game over and over again is just brilliant. Hardcore gamers might think differently, but this is very much a game designed for the widest possible crowd. The good news is that the vast majority of people who pick up Legend should be willing and able to finish it. I can’t say the same for, say, Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones.