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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Review
genre: Action Adventure
PIII 800, 128MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 1.5GB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Dec 02, 03 (released)
|» All About Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time on ActionTrip|
I guess you can say while I enjoy all flavors of gaming, I am primarily a coffee and donuts gamer. What can I say? Open-ended gameplay is nice, but I like linearity, when done properly. I like a good ol' fashioned dungeon crawl. I like slinging lead with the best of them, and I like whoopin' up on some demonic cultists bent on world domination and abolishing necessary evils like alcohol and strip clubs (Yeah, you're spending way too much money on 'em - Ed.), and I like worthy sequels to already powerhouse gaming titles.
Ouch! Dammit, help me with this stubborn hairpin!
Look, Farah, no hands! Now watch me do a back-flip!
I've been playing video games since...well...forever, it seems, and one game that I enjoyed wasting countless hours of my youth on was Prince of Persia. The premise was simple - You're a Prince. A Persian Prince, no less, and wherever there is a Prince, there must be a Princess. Enter the Evil Vizier, without whom, the plot would be as boring as last week's Will and Grace. The required Evil Vizier has captured said Princess, and you have been tossed into prison for being a horny little bastard. Your task is to bust out of prison, negotiate a near-impossibly difficult array of gorges, precipices booby traps and other sundry puzzles, while fighting off a small army of the Vizier's troops with a scimitar. Half of the fun was falling into the traps, as the death animations were highly entertaining for their day, but the game was one of those that required a quick mind as well as quick reflexes. The game had two sequels, one of which was highly successful in its own right, while the other was not - but the addictive quality of navigating through what should, by all rights, be a completely impossible obstacle course and coming out clean on the other side endures even to today. It was one of the original Jumping Puzzle games, which set the standard of gaming frustration for years to come.
Fast-forward to today; where with today's technology games can render fantastically detailed worlds and vast expanses in which to wreak virtual havoc in excruciatingly minute detail. The boundaries of today's games have been reduced solely to the complication of the consumer's PC's and the imaginations of the development teams. So, Ubi Soft Montreal decided it was time to blow the dust and sand off the old classic, and by adding a new graphics engine and updated storyline, they bring the Prince of Persia series into the 21st century.
The player assumes the role of the Prince (Duh - Ed.), who plunders the treasure vaults of an Indian Maharajah and steals the Dagger of Time. The Maharajah's former Vizier (Lemme guess - he's the bad guy! - Ed.), who betrayed his master to the Persian Shah tricks the Prince into using the Dagger to unleash the Sands of Time, which obliterates all human life in the kingdom, save three people - the Prince, the Vizier, and an Indian Princess - all vying for the Dagger, which is the only thing that can control the Sands of Time. Everybody up to speed? Good.
First things first - this game has received a serious facelift, for the better. The premise is still essentially the same - the Prince must navigate a near-impossible set of obstacles to reach his goal, except this time the goals are much harder to reach and will often require you to use your brains. (What a concept! - Ed.) Instead of trying to reach the other side of the screen, you're faced with scaling a 50-foot cliff, fraught with cliffs, spikes, columns, poles, traps and other sundry things that would make even the toughest mountain climber blanch at the task. The obstacles will call for both quick thinking and quick reflexes. Oh, and did we mention the hordes of demonic, heavily armed sand creatures that want to turn you into camel dung? Your sword arm gets a nice workout fighting off these creatures as well.
Visually speaking, the game looks fantastic. The scenery is of paramount importance, since it does two things: it provides 90% of the game's atmosphere and 100% of the game's obstacles, so if the visuals aren't top notch, there isn't a whole lot of reason to play this game. The backdrops are lush, vivid and full of detail. I had some problems with some of the atmospheric and particle effects at higher resolutions, but it wasn't anything completely debilitating. The models were okay - the player character model and some of the enemies look awesome, but the female models aren't all that - too much was taken away to give them all the Barbie Look (34-24-34), and they appear blocky and unrealistic. Other than that, the only complaint I had with the visuals was the camera controls, which I'll get to in a bit.
The sound quality is very nice as well, with the game implementing EAX and other 3D positional sound effects to great success. The music shifts dynamically as the player moves from zone to zone, but the game is largely silent other than the standard grunts, groans and echoes that bounce with some level of acoustic accuracy off of the cavernous walls. The game's forte is certainly not its sound capabilities, but the audio is certainly worthy of note. If I were to name one drawback, it would be the voice acting - specifically that of the Princess. She sounds as though she were a Hollywood blonde, not an Indian goddess - I know, it's a personal gripe, at best, but her voice gives me the impression that she was cracking gum between takes, not working on her lines.
8.0 Very Good
Fantastic atmosphere, addictive gameplay, fluid animations, great environmental sound effects, worthy successor to the Prince's throne;
Can get frustrating at later stages, camera controls are difficult to pinpoint, game has an overall console feel.