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Prince of Persia Review

November 11, 2009

prince-of-persia-logo

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PS3, X360 (Version Played), PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Players: 1
Release Date: 4th of December 2008 (EU) – Consoles
12th of December 2008 – PC

In the last generation we saw three Prince of Persia games, all of which were good. Sands of Time was probably the best and its mixture of platforming, combat, puzzle solving and the Sands of Time mechanic made it so. Don’t expect to be travelling back in time in this new Prince of Persia which puts you in a new world with a new prince and only the name of the games links them. Gameplay wise it may use the same elements (Albeit with some differences) but story wise it has nothing to do with the last batch of games.

Of course the story isn’t really the reason you’ll be playing this anyway. The Prince is searching for his Donkey in the desert when he comes across a girl in need and being the noble man he is, he lends a hand. This leaves the Prince (He isn’t really a prince, just a thief) helping this girl in a much larger adventure. The girl, called Elika, turns out to be a princess. So the common peasant, the Prince, helps the princess, Elika, on an adventure to stop an evil God (Ahriman) from destroying the land. Where have I heard that before? The story is clichéd but it is told fairly well. All the main points will be told as you progress but you can learn more about the world, past events and so on by talking to Elika during the game. It’s worth initiating the conversations to pick up on some extra things. Even then though, the story isn’t amazing. The ending, on the other hand, is. It’s up there with Shadow of the Colossus in terms of endings, and it makes story worth paying attention to alone.

The gameplay plays similar to the previous games with combat, platforming and puzzle solving being the main focus of the game. Each area has been tweaked slightly though and it works differently this time around.  This is mainly to do with Elika whose powers and co-operative abilities have changed the tide of gameplay.

Prince of Persia 1

No longer will you be fighting a handful of enemies at the same time but you are limited to fighting one enemy at a time. Each fight is designed to be like a mini-boss and you will come across various different enemies throughout the game. Each area has an actual boss who you will fight a few times in that area in order to progress. Each boss is different enough and the scenarios change a fair amount of times so fights don’t get repetitive. Along with the bosses there are the bog standard enemies (Who you can actually defeat before the fight even starts). The combat gives you a handful of moves (Elika can join in with her magic) to perform which is fun but it only excels when you link up long chains, of fluid and strong moves. The combat is fun and is a lot slower than games similar to it but it works well in this instance.

The platforming is the highlight of the gameplay and hasn’t been changed as much as the combat has compared to previous game. The moves remain similar and you will be happily swinging, climbing, sliding, jumping and running through the beautiful world (I’ll mention this in a bit). It’s very solid and feels like its got weight to it. The Prince thuds against the ground when he jumps down; he stumbles as he starts to slide and so on which gives the character weight that improves the gameplay and makes you feel as if you are control of an actual person. Co-operative moves can now be performed with Elika. Rather than a double jump, Elika’s magic can be used to jump a little further which is a nice addition. Elika follows you for the majority of the game but rarely gets in your way. As you are climbing about, you are able to lend Elika a hand by pulling her up, catching her, letting her on your back as you climb (this only happens when climbing on vines) etc and despite normally being optional it’s a nice little touch.

The puzzles in the game are fun but they won’t have you scratching your head. They will normally be rather simple and involve something along the lines of pushing buttons and pushing levers to open up areas. They are good fun but there aren’t many and the other aspects have a lot more emphasis placed on them. 

Prince of Persia 2

Elika gains new powers throughout the course of the game as you collect Light Seeds. The powers will give you access to new areas that were previously unavailable but all work in a similar way. They are activated by colour coordinated power plates and they will either send you flying through the air to a wall, another plate or in the case of the green power (I know how basic that sounds too) you can run along buildings and structures. Even though the powers are quite similar and basic, there is no denying how stylish it is when you get a long, fluid chain of powers and platforming.

However what may annoy some people is the Light Seeds. Collectables in games are rarely required to progress but Prince of Persia forces you to collect a certain amount to get the next power and unlock the next area. This means you have to go out of your way in order to get the Light Seeds but fortunately there are plenty scattered about. If you don’t want to spend a bit of your time collecting things though, this will probably detract from your overall experience.

There is no way of dying in Prince of Persia, thanks to Elika’s powers. If you are defeated by an enemy or fall of an edge Elika will use her powers and save you. You will be returned to the last place where you walked on after, completely unscathed. This does make the game a little easy as you Elika can save you an infinite amount of times but it allows the game be a simple and relaxing experience. It is very difficult to get frustrated or stuck at Prince of Persia which will let you relax whilst playing the game. Some people will like this, while others will want something more challenging.

Despite the lack of challenge, the game is not without its satisfaction. Linking up move after move after move is very rewarding. Perfecting your jumps, slides, dives and climbing can make your experience a whole lot better. The same rule applies to the combat where linking all of your different attacks together to make a long combo is always satisfying.

The game looks beautiful and the artistic design is up there with the likes of Okami. Rather than go for a photo-realistic look, Prince of Persia wants the player to feel like they are in a magical, fantasy world so Ubisoft decided to go for a hand drawn/cell shaded approach. The characters, the environments, the backdrops, the magic and everything else look incredible.

Prince of Persia 3

Every area you go to will require you to heal the fertile ground which will get rid of the corruption that plagues the area. The corruption is destroying the world and as long as it exists there is a chance that Ahriman will escape. When the corruption exists the world is covered from it, it’s dark, dull and depressing but after it’s been healed the difference is staggering. No longer does the area look like it’s filled with darkness but it becomes bright, colourful and creates a true sense of a magical world. I found myself stopping just to stare at the amazing backgrounds in the game every so often.

I do think Prince of Persia is successful in creating a well designed fantasy world. The visuals highlight the environments and style which captures the fantasy very well. However, the soundtrack is a letdown in this department. It isn’t bad, it’s just nothing special. Most of the tracks sound samey and none of them really capture the fantasy element the world managed to do so well.

This is a very fun game with a good variety of gameplay which will keep players entertained for the course of it. Despite it having some flaws, it’s a very enjoyable experience that looks absolutely amazing and has a brilliant ending.

+ Looks beautiful
+ An excellent ending
+ Wide variety of gameplay

– Light seeds may annoy or bore some people
– Not very challenging
– Soundtrack should have been better

8/10

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