I’ve always been a fan of “Acrobatic platformers,” and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time reunited me with that love of the genre. The new Prince of Persia for PS3 and Xbox 360 is enjoyable, but in a more laid-back way. The fighting system is redundantly redundant and a touch frustrating, but thankfully you don’t spend much time doing that. Instead, the rest of the game is a light rollercoaster ride, easy but fun with lots of levels to cruise through. The tricks are all smoothly strung together with little effort from the player as you watch what’s-his-name bounce through the scenery.
The first few hours of the game are a delight. The fighting, music, scenery, and acrobatics are very entertaining and will have your thumb pointing upwards. It’s several hours later that you may be hearing that same music, performing the same fighting and watching the same acrobatics moves that you may hear yourself sigh. Maybe even start to feel board. Many hours after that, doing the same tricks, fighting, music, it begins to feel so repetitive that you find yourself trying to finish the game just to be done with it, or perhaps rack in some Achievement Points/Trophies. After all of that, thankfully, the ending is good and does things a little differently. So the game does leave you on a good note.
Having princess Elika save you from every fall seems silly at first, but it quickly becomes apparent the affect it has on game play. You become more daring and willing to try crazy things, but you also become more relaxed, and feel much less challenged. Rewinding time I thought was better, because you only had so many shots before you struck out and died, so the tension would raise and your butt would slide to the edge of your seat. Not so with this game, you can play through the entire new Prince of Persia half asleep with one eye open.
Elika also steps in to save you during fights, but unlike falling there are some consequences. Once you’ve taken enough blows (there is no health gauge for the prince, so you’re not sure when that will happen), Elika will call out and sparkle magic all over the place to reset the match. When that happens, your enemy (you never fight more than one at a time), gains back a decent amount of health. If it gets to be too late at night, or maybe you’ve had a few too many beers, you may find yourself caught in a perpetual match that seems like its never going to end. Others have had good things to say about the fighting system, so perhaps I just never caught on to how it works. Or maybe those people proclaiming that it was so great didn’t bother to finish the game, because the fighting gets very tiresome toward the end. Watching the same animations over and over again wears thin.
The graphics — whose concept art appearance is the most glaring change from previous outings — are a surprising down point. I know it’s supposed to be “artsy” and all of that, but after playing Ubisoft’s AWESOME-looking Assassins Creed, this was a major disappointment. Everything is empty, you’re bouncing around a “kingdom” with a “princess” of a land that has no living creatures. Cel-shaded just looks old to me, and cheap. Adding insult to injury, they let you change the Prince’s outfit to the same one Altair used in Assassin’s Creed. After I did that I REALLY could tell the difference in visual quality between the two games.
All in all, the next-gen version of Prince of Persia is fun and even relaxing at times, but overall it’s a little disappointing. And that statement is coming from one of the development team’s biggest fans.
- Score: 7.9
— Robert Dusseau