Since the Prince made his revival with the now classic Sands of Time the subsequent follow-ups have been something of a mixed bag. Now, the Prince has been upgraded to the next generation of hardware and this game is bigger and faster than any other title in the series and he’s got a lot of new abilities to put to use. Those familiar to the last generation of games will find a lot of gameplay aspects in common, while those new to the series will find that the Prince is one of the coolest cats this side of…Persia?
Take a gander at some video or at the screenshots of Prince of Persia and you will see some of the most beautiful artwork seen in a game. The artwork and lighting have been taken to the next level. The Prince and his lovely Princess sidekick Elika look absolutely stunning. While he’s been away from the spotlight he has apparently beefed up and worked on his washboard abs. Quick someone get the Prince some tape because he’s ripped! On the opposing spectrum Elika is quite the beauty, a normal looking lady if you routinely hang out with athletic supermodels who refuse to don footwear. You will regularly find yourself staring at her wondering just who she was modeled after and how you could possibly get in contact with her. Yeah, she looks that good. In fact the entire game looks this good. It was built on the Anvil engine, the same one used to create Assassin’s Creed, which you will find has a fairly large influence on this game. The world is huge, but not so big that you can’t get around it in a matter of minutes. You will find yourself, more than once, in awe of the sheer visual depth that the developers have painstakingly created, so that you could stop and look around and see distant lands that you will eventually travel to. The level of detail is insane and there’s a lot to see and your journey will have you covering just about every inch of the land.
Fans of the series should already know that the voice over work in Prince of Persia will not take a backseat to the other facets of the game. The Prince and Elika have a lot of dialogue and for the most part you can hear as much or as little as you like. You can stop and talk to Elika as often as you like and get to hear lots of witty and playful dialogue. Sometimes she has more to say than others, but you can pick her brain about her background and your current situation amongst other things. Most people will appreciate the fact that they pretty much speak in present day terms not in an archaic language or in Shakespearean verse or anything odd like that. In fact there is quite a bit of innuendo and awkward moments between the Prince and Elika are abundant. There is a tension between the two of them that adds a bit to the story and to his reason for being there and helping her in the first place.
Speaking of which, the game is pretty heavily story driven, though as mentioned above it’s kind of at your own discretion as to how much gets revealed to you. The more you speak to Elika the more you learn, so if you don’t speak to her at all you won’t learn anything more than what you get in the occasional cut-scene. The odd thing (or maybe not so odd if you’re a seasoned gamer) is how he gets mixed up in this entire ordeal to begin with if only because it’s just so random. Though, I guess it does speak to the fact that a pretty girl can get just about any guy to do anything for her including saving the world.
The coolest features about Prince of Persia very well may be the same things that some gamers won’t like about it. For example, there’s essentially no dying, if you fall off a cliff or get defeated by an enemy Elika will save you. If you fall you’re taken back to the last area you were standing on, if you were defeated by an enemy Elika picks you up and the enemy gets a bit of health back, so as not to make it too easy for you. This may feel like you’re being coddled and led to the eventual ending of the game, but it’s just hard enough that it presents a challenge and just easy enough that it keeps your interest in the game, so that you don’t move on to the newest release. (Oh come on, you know you have at least five games in your collection that you keep swearing you’ll come back to someday.) It’s a double edged sword; a delicate balance that the developer must decide upon when taking difficulty level into consideration.
Ubisoft did a fine job with it and if it’s not hard enough for you then you can try to earn the trophies (or achievements in the Xbox 360’s case) which do ramp it up a little. The one thing that does make the game a little dull is the fact that you’ve got to collect light seeds to increase Elika’s powers. It brings the game down to the level of fetch quest. Collect enough light seeds to gain a new power, which grants you access to a new area. It’s prototypical and stereotypical of a platformer, which isn’t exactly flattering to the Prince of Persia franchise, which has been known for innovation throughout the years. The game tends to get a little frustrating in some areas and tedious at times with all the light seed collecting, but the story tries to muscle past that even if it doesn’t always succeed, though the combat does a fair job of breaking up some of the monotony.
The combat system is very cool with a lot of combos and reversals, along with timed button presses. In fact, you’ll probably wish there were more of it instead of so much running and jumping around. Not that there’s anything wrong with the running and jumping. It’s still a very cool element and a crucial element to the series, so it’s here to stay, but a little more swordplay never hurt anyone. (You know what I mean) Prince of Persia handles exactly as it should, tight controls and a nice camera that rarely gets in the way of itself make it a good game and great addition to your collection if you’re into the series.
In the end, Prince of Persia is a jaw dropping visual tour de force with great dialogue and a passable story. The action and platforming elements are more hit than miss and the game is just the right level of difficulty for gamers with a decent skill level. The team-up style combat is cool, though probably underutilized, but all in all Prince of Persia is a solid game for anyone looking to relive the glory days of the platformer. This genre of game is far too often overflowing with mascot-type adventures with cruddy cameras, weak story lines, and broken gameplay, so any game that can get past that is more than a breath of fresh air. Prince of Persia gets past that and delivers a whole lot of game even if it is a little short for those who want to rush through the game and not experience and take in the visual splendor that the developers took the time to painstakingly create. If you are new to the series or missed a game or two on the last generation, fear not because this is pretty much a reinvention of the franchise and the perfect jump-off for newbies and those very familiar with previous installments.
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