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Prince of Persia Review
developer: Ubisoft Montreal
genre: Action Adventure
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Dec 02, 08 (released)
|» All About Prince of Persia on ActionTrip|
I've just spent the last 15 minutes playing the original Prince of Persia. That's right, Jordan Mechner's classic from 1989. However, during all these years, the franchise managed to live on largely thanks to the excellent Sands of Time series (crafted by Ubisoft Montreal). Personally, I think it's amazing how the developers managed to preserve the challenging aspect of PoP in The Sands of Time, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones. Each game was a fine fairy tale, though conveyed through a very effective and realistic art style. Actually, previous games were more than challenging. Certain segments in each game were quite tough and I remember fighting some damn difficult bosses (particularly in Warrior Within). Don't misunderstand me. It's not my intention to glorify the Sands of Time series, since it's not perfect. Still, they brought a few cool gameplay elements to the table and even captured the spirit of the old game. Prince of Persia's latest outing provides a significantly different experience.
In this game, the player is caught in an epic battle between the forces of light and darkness - between Ormazd, the God of Light, and his brother Ahriman, the God of Darkness. Arriving just in time to witness the destruction of the legendary Tree of Life, our hero joins Elika to heal the world from the evil Corruption. The Corruption is a dark substance that physically contaminates the land and the skies. Your main task it to battle the Corruption and prevent the Ahriman's return.
This game marks a departure from the well-oiled gameplay mechanics of the Sands of Time series, in addition to kicking things in gear with a snazzy new art style. It also features a different story, unique setting, fresh characters and an altogether new Prince; one that's arrogant, brash and, of course, a ladies man.
Prince of Persia engulfs the player in a most intriguing world, filled with spectacular-looking landscapes and, of course, treacherous foes. The perilous journey ahead holds many secrets, all waiting to be discovered. Mind you, you're not going on your own. The sorceress Elika is by your side. Apart from being an extremely useful guide, Elika's powers are there to save your skin, practically every time you take a step in the wrong direction.
Okay, our hero is actually capable of pulling off a variety of impressive stunts, but many of the paths ahead require Elika's magical abilities. The inclusion of Elika in Prince of Persia will probably be the most debated feature of the game in the months to come. Your character cannot die because Elika will never allow that to happen, even when she's trapped by the Corruption. For example, if you miscalculate a jump and start falling, Elika magically flies to your aid, grabbing your hand and returning usually close to where you made the first jump. Cool. Way too easy, but cool. She can also transport you via magical plates to locations that are inaccessible otherwise. As a concept, we cannot see anything wrong with this. In practice though, the magical plates are a bit redundant and will severely diminish the challenge. Four types of plates are available, all of which are meant to transport in a unique way - only they don't. Yellow plates make you fly (in semi-scripted fashion), while the green ones shift perspective and allow you to walk across vertical and steep surfaces. Red and blue plates generally function the same way; you move from plate to plate by pressing down the 'Y' button. The plates seemed like a cool addition at first. Later on, I realized they're just another dodge, contributing to the game's repetitiveness.
That's right. Prince of Persia is on the whole a repetitive game. The open-world gameplay is fine and all, until it becomes evident that you are hurled into a series of very similar platform-jumping sequences and well-directed battles. These are actually sword fights, spiced up with Elika's graceful magical skills. Which brings me to the boss fights. Prince of Persia takes a significant leap away from the combat mechanics in Sands of Time. You no longer face multiple foes. Every battle is fought one-on-one, or should I say, two-on-one, seeing as Elika is close by, boosting the effectiveness of your combos. Battles tactics and swordplay don't take too long to master and before you know it, even the ugliest and meanest enemies will pose as much threat as a one-legged severely drugged ant.
Fair enough, I may have overstepped my bounds here just a tad. It's not that easy. There are certain sections in the game, which take some skill to complete. On rare occasions, there are a few puzzles as well, albeit I'm sure they won't take you more than five or so minutes to overcome them.
Cool art style, stunning animation, beautiful surroundings, captivating world, technically sound, enjoyable characters;
The challenge is gone, as is the spirit of earlier games, it gets repetitive after a while.