Too simplistic for hardcore gamers, but a great platform adventure nonetheless
Big-budget production; stunning animation; using two characters in conjunction is fun
Lacks depth & challenge; boring combat
Since the first game’s launch in 2003, the Prince of Persia franchise has won the hearts of over 10.3 million gamers worldwide. Although originally primarily comprising side-scrolling platform video games, the franchise has since evolved, featuring mainly three-dimensional action-adventure games, and even spawning a forthcoming film. This new Prince of Persia was Developed by Ubisoft’s Montreal studio and the same all-star team that created the previously acclaimed Prince of Persia Sands of Time trilogy. Prince of Persia opens a new chapter in the Prince of Persia universe, featuring a new breed of gameplay, the game does a great job of rejuvenating the action-adventure genre thanks to its eye-candy illustrative art style.
Set in a land rooted in ancient Persian mythology, the Prince (you) finds himself caught in an epic battle between the primal forces of light and darkness: the God of Light, Ormazd versus his brother Ahriman, the destructive God of Darkness. The Prince conveniently arrives just in time to witness the destruction of the legendary Tree of Life – an act which threatens to plunge the entire world into eternal darkness. Manifested in the form of the Corruption, a dark substance that physically contaminates the land and the skies, the Prince must partner with Elika, a deadly companion, to heal the world from the evil Corruption.
Facing imminent danger, the Prince does what Prince’s does best – he flees to a deserted kingdom that seemingly offers sanctuary. Already touched by the evil Corruption, a dark substance that physically contaminates the land and the skies, the kingdom is filled with adventure, challenge and intrigue. As the Prince seeks a way to fight the spreading Corruption destroying the land, he encounters a partially infected creature that promises salvation. But is the creature truly an ally or merely an enemy in disguise? It seems this perilous alliance may be the only way for the Prince to face the forces of darkness and save the Persian kingdom from the Corruption once and for all.
Prince of Persia is an incredible looking game. Indeed, if it wasn’t for Ubisoft’s extrodinary art department, Prince of Persia could easily be sidelined as another action adventure romp. The ancient mythological world has been brought to life with an all-new art style labelled ‘Illustrative’, inspired by the highly detailed hand painted illustrations it takes its source from. Prince of Persia’s unique graphic style is a perfect balance between classic drawings and modern modelling, offering the look and feel of a watercolour painting in motion.
Once you’ve gotten over the gorgeousness of the sprawling Persian citadels, deserted kingdoms and perilous lava rifts, Prince of Persia is a relatively familiar gaming affair. Having said that, it will take you a little time to master the acrobatics, strategy, and fighting tactics of the Prince, and with multiple paths to choose from, you will influence the game’s final outcome. Armed with a gauntlet acquired from previous adventures, you need to perform perfectly timed acrobatic combinations to traverse canyons and buildings and avoid the evil tremors borne out of the corruption. The Prince can even scale sheer cliff faces and tackle Ahriman’s minions in combat. Help is at hand though. Combining the Prince’s physical abilities and Elika’s magical power and you have a force to be reckoned with. Her abilities help in combat, acrobatics, and puzzle-solving, and she even enables the Prince to reach new heights of high-flying artistry through special duo acrobatic moves. She even comes good with fighting combo attacks. Weird then, that she grabs a piggyback while you climb vines.
The control system is incredibly streamlined. The jump button takes care of most actions: just aim the Prince at a wall and he’ll pump his legs to sweep along it, using his spiked gauntlet to keep up his momentum. Another stab of the jump button at the right time sends him leaping from one wall to another, continuing his run. Rather than complex button combos, every string of leaps and bounds is a test of timing, and the slick animation of the Prince makes your simple but well-timed button presses look like the work of a master. The downside is that even your best laid plans can end up boiling down to trial-and-error and blind leaps of faith.
Ubisoft’s counter to this is a remarkably lenient checkpoint system that means you never actually die. Princess Elika is ever-present by your side, accompanying you to each healing ground to perform her magical ritual. Elika uses her magical powers to save you from plummeting to your death by grabbing your hand and launching you back to the last piece of solid ground you passed, which is rarely far from where you fell. The same applies when you get mauled in hand-to-hand combat. While hardened gamers will find the apparent lack of challenge a disappointment, most gamers will enjoy the pleasure of negotiating the beautiful environments without fear.
Prince Of Persia is an outstanding game. More of 3D platformer than an action adventure, it looks and sounds like a next-generation title. Perhaps more important is that it manages to entertain throughout and the inevitable relationship between the Prince and Princess is endearing. The inability to die and the minimalist control scheme will alienate hardcore players looking for depth and challenge, as will the boring combat, but give it time and there’s a lot to admire in Prince Of Persia – once you’ve managed to tune out the Prince’s incessantly goofy American articulation!