Prince of Persia: Warrior Within Review
genre: Action Adventure
PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, GeForce 3, ATI Radeon 7500 or better
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Dec 02, 04 (released)
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We explain why Spiderman is a wuss and Indy Jones is God
I don't know for you, but mine was a generation of Indiana Jones wannabes. To us, the figure of a man with a frowning look and a five-day' beard was some sort of a God. Because of Indy, we developed a life-long hatred of snakes and rats and adoration of hats and whips. No wonder then there's so many people devoted to S/M in my generation (We must not have seen the same Indy movies -Ed). But the reason we loved Indy above all was because he was so damn practical. Remember the scene where he was racing through the market square and there was this guy on the other side, making a show of his swords? Then you must remember what Indy did: instead of fooling around with the fellow, he simply drew his gun and shot him.
Hey look, I hit the pinata! What do I get?
Thank you for teaching me that Russian dance, man! It rocks!
The new installment in the legendary PoP franchise and the sequel to PoP: Sands of Time, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within bears a certain resemblance to Indy and his proverbial whip. But in what sense, you will discover later on in this article. For now, I would like to concentrate on other aspects of this game. Let's start with the story, shall we.
You say there is a *story* to this?!
Ah yes, the story; what should I tell you about the story? There's not much of it anyway, and the characters fall into a clich' and overall do not have a lot of, erm, character. There's the handsome prince, who follows the trend of a good-looking-but-rugged-and-dirty main hero with a somewhat tortured look. Then there's the wise old man, who tells the prince that he will die - of course, not before he meets his fate. (So that explains the tortured look.) Then there's the monstrous Dahaka, the incarnation of the mentioned Fate. Last but not the least, there is also a female villain in a sexy outfit, whom we shall simply label as the "Bitch." She has something to do with the Empress of Time, so it's not hard to understand you'll need to defeat this Empress in order to prevent the creation of the Sands of Time. In order to do that, you will be forced to travel to the past and back to the present, unraveling the story and fighting tons of pesky creatures with swords and other weapons in the game's large arsenal.
The game takes place on an island where you will explore the castle, which is as usual, filled with different traps, physics puzzles and various enemies. I guess you've already judged from the story the game's taken a much darker turn this time, and the rest of the game is in accord with the mentioned principle. The prince has a darker and more sinister look, and the same goes for the settings and the atmosphere. That doesn't mean this game doesn't look good - quite the contrary: lots of dark and misty corners do not serve as an excuse for blurry or sloppy graphics, so the textures and character models are very detailed. While Warrior Within looks amazing, its biggest quality lies not in the graphics, but in the superb and highly natural animation - a hallmark of all the Prince of Persia games. Taking into account the game's features, a new and improved combat system with lots of new moves and actions, it is obvious that the numerous and complex battles play fabulously. I enjoyed every single moment of combat, even when I was losing. The prince has a certain number of simple moves that when combo-ed yield some really spectacular ones, in the visual sense and every other. It is possible to decapitate your enemy, even to split their bodies in half. You can also grab a bad guy and use him as a shield; you can strangle them from behind or jump over their heads and finish them off from behind. The game features a double wielding option, but there's a catch to that - your left hand weapon cannot be used indefinitely and has to be replaced with some of the weapons your enemies tend to drop when they, you know... lose their head (no pun intended). While dual wielding has its advantages, it also deprives you of some of the cool combat possibilities, so the choice of whether or not you want to dual wield will depend mostly on your specific fighting technique. Unfortunately, while fighting the bosses (i.e. the Bitch mentioned at the beginning of this article), you'll spend most of your time blocking their blows so your infallible "master-swordsman" skills don't do too much good against them.
The most common enemies aren't very difficult to beat, as they serve only to keep you interested, but there are some who present a real challenge. It will take you a lot of time and patience to beat these other guys, not only because they are nasty, but also because you want to keep your health. Since you cannot save your game when you wish, it will sometimes take you a lot of reloads until you are ready to pass onto the next stage. Bear in mind this game is fiendishly difficult - even on the easy difficulty setting you will die frequently. Difficulty levels are well balanced, so if you're a beginner feel free to opt for the easy level - that will do.
Apart from decapitating enemies, the other important segment of this game are the puzzles which are numerous, well-conceived and sometimes extraordinarily difficult. Also, expect to fall into ravines and from balconies until you learn how to walk the walls, swing on poles, jump from column to column, and slide down the curtains and such - but such is the story of any Prince of Persia game. This means you'll get to see that annoying "Game Over" screen quite often - unless, that is, if you do not use your ability to rewind time and correct your mistakes. This can sometimes be a bit frustrating, as you'll need to repeat the last segment you just played all over again, and that can get cumbersome after a while. As for the puzzles, most of them are rather obvious (the in-game sequences are most helpful), but several are incredibly difficult to solve. Sometimes you'll spend a lot of time looking for a clue, so the game will require that you do a lot of running around while looking for a suitable position where an action can be performed. The camera does not help you with this, as the convenient and helpful 'look around' feature has obviously been sacrificed for a 'cinematic' one. Listen, when I'm hanging from the top column and an angry acrobat is jumping on my fingers, I *really* don't care how I look - I'd rather know what I'm doing, if possible. The camera is controllable to a limited degree, and the situation is significantly better than before but, on the other hand, there are some instances where it is impossible to see precisely where you're jumping even if employing the first-person or the overhead view.
Did you know drinking a *lot* of water was healthy?
Apart from this, Warrior Within is incredibly fun to play - or at least, would be, if it weren't for the ridiculous story and the silly and repetitive dialogue. Yes, in terms of dialogue, Warrior Within actually beats Silent Hill. I admit I've seen worse, but the dialogue is undoubtedly crappy. There are several phrases that repeat at regular intervals, moreover they are voiced in an unsatisfactory manner - the problem with the voices is not that they are not expressive, but rather that they are over-expressive. As for the overall quality of the sound, it is truly excellent although there are occasional sound glitches, but that is nothing serious as it happens very seldom. The sounds are not diverse enough and consist primarily of sword-clashing, your puffing and panting as you perform your acrobatics and repetitive ambient sounds.
While the sound is not that diverse, I could not see that as a fault as this game does possess an intense atmosphere, so you will never notice an absence of sound. The background music by GodmSmack is rather good, but I honestly do not think that heavy-metal melodies go well with this type of game (Agreed -Ed). And no, I did not expect to hear Sting performing his "Desert Rose" either, but the Arabic feel of the Sands of Time is stomped on and burned alive by GodSmack's heavy guitar riffs.
8.7 Very Good
Greatly improved combat system with some spectacular combos and moves, excellent level design, some clever puzzles, superb animation, great fun to play;
The music is not bad, but it's not for this game; occasionally irritating camera angles, boss fights can get tiresome, the dialogue is silly and the story is crappy.