Review: Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

DISCOVER YOUR POWER – REALISE YOUR DESTINY

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: May 18, 2010
Compatability (PS3): 9MB Mininum Space | DUALSHOCK 3 Vibration Function | HD 480p / 720p
Compatability (Xbox 360): 2MB Mininum Space | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p
Rating: 7.5

The Prince of Persia series was reintroduced to the video game world in 2003 with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The two subsequent games in the series, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones told the story of a prince mastering time and saving his kingdom. In 2008 Ubisoft rebooted the series with a completely new prince, story, and location. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands returns to the story of the previous trilogy and acts as a bridge between The Sands of Time and Warrior Within. The game fills this role for better or worse. With going back to the story of the previous games The Forgotten Sands (TFS) ditches both the flow and controls of the 2008 entry and finds itself somewhere between the older games and the more recent Assassin’s Creed II. The game is by no means bad but it lacks originality and tack on unyielding controls and issues with input recognition and we are left with a game that while fun at times feels like a game from 2004.

The biggest problem with TFS is the way you never feel in control of the prince’s actions. In the 2008 Prince of Persia the actions seemed almost automated and you felt more like a director than you did a player. TFS puts you somewhere in the middle. There is an excruciating lag between button input and action output on screen. For example, when you press the attack button there is about a second of animation that means your finger movements are always ahead of the actual actions being taken. Now this may not sound terrible as this type of control is common in a lot of games, but it does not lend itself well to a game where you are forced to be an acrobat both inside and outside of battle. In battle the lag can mean the difference from the prince completing a perfectly planned combo, to an erratic long jump you hoped had been earlier. The game also finds it necessary to throw a battalion of enemies at you at a time, and all enemies seem to be suffering the same lag as the prince, just magnified. They literally raise their swords … look at you … think about whether or not to hit you … then swing. It has a real Dynasty Warriors feel to it and while I am not trying to put down the Dynasty Warriors series, it doesn’t really work in the Prince of Persia series. I should note though that I do prefer it to the 2008 battle mechanics greatly and even though it may be a little mindless it can be entertaining to see giant waves of enemies slowly circle you and watch as you obliterate all of them. The loss of control is more apparent in the platforming sections of the game. The levels are all pretty well designed and it does the trademark PoP scroll through the environment to show the route to great effect. After a small period of getting acclimated to the controls and getting the timing down you will be running up walls, wall-kicking off, and running up another wall easily. The platforming sections are a blast as throughout the game you are getting more ways to interact with the environment and, while there are very few, the puzzles are interesting and at least on one occasion force you to think about time in a way we are not accustomed to.

Platforming can really be an enjoyable ride in Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.

Getting back to the combat, the game uses a light leveling system where you are given a sort of grid with nodes, each node representing either a new power or way to increase an existing power. The game facilitates this system rather simply. Each enemy you kill drops yellow orbs that pretty much equate to experience in a role playing game. The prince himself never “levels up” but when you reach the required amount of orbs you can choose one of the nodes. The nodes are health increases, power increases, etc, but the most interesting ones are the four elemental powers you can add to the prince’s repertoire. There’s a fire power that cans like a buff and gives your attacks a damage over time effect that can slowly eat enemies and leave a trail as you move with enemies walking through and get burned, an earth power that acts as an impenetrable shield from which you take no damage for a short time, a wind power that knocks enemies away from you and causes damage, and an ice power that sends ice glaciers out from your sword to attack enemies. From all power ups the earth shield is the most useful especially in the later fights and the sparse, boss like encounters. The powers are interesting and can augment your fighting style to great effect. There are four levels of each power and I recommend picking one at a time and leveling it up to full as the level four elemental power is very strong regardless of which one you pick.

There are also power ups in the platforming sections of the game. At the start you do not have the powers of time but you are quickly given rewind time so you can redo sections that may be giving you some trouble. Later you get the ability to stop time all together. This allows you, mostly, to swing and climb on pillars of water as when you do stop time the jets of water become solid. Using jets of water are a means to climb and an interesting layer to the platforming sections. These do seem a little too convenient; it is an interesting gameplay devise and later in the game becomes a source of difficulty. There are two more powers that the game gives you for getting around the environments and while they are both interesting, a sort of dash attack in the air to get over large gaps, and a power to redraw some of the environment that was present in the past, it is when the powers are used together that the game really hits its stride. Not wanting to ruin anything but in the last hour or so of the game you are forced to use all these powers when trying to find the route and it is both fun and exhilarating to be able to put the correct input with an ever shrinking timing window. This is by far the best part of the game.

You will either love or hate the combat system.

Sound and graphics wise the game is once again adequate. The sound is fine but nothing stands out. There was a few times where the sounds cut out but I was never sure if it was for effect or if it was just a glitch. It seemed too jarring to be purposeful but I cannot say definitively. The voice acting is rather good though. I bought into the ascents most of the time and the voice of the final boss is intimidating. The graphics are good with the backgrounds looking beautiful at times when you are out in the open but the character models are nothing special. The way water flows in the game is impressive. The majority of the game takes place in cramped indoor environments and seeing the same muted grays become tiresome.

The story in TFS is fine. It’s not great but it’s not terrible. Ubisoft was trying to tell a story that fits in the Sands of Time trilogy but instead they told a story that seems both forced and unnecessary. Between Sands of Time and Warrior Within the prince got an emo makeover from the likably “caught in a bad situation character” to the more brooding My Chemical Romance fan, and the fans did not like it. I think Ubisoft acknowledges that it was a bad decision and they felt that TFS was a way to show that transformation. I can say that after beating the game I see what they were going for and it becomes a little bit understandable why the prince changed, but the story itself never surprises you and you can pretty much call the ending from the beginning. It’s not hard when we are introduced to characters that we are to believe are important but, knowing what happens next in the series, we never hear about again. There is a good bit towards the end of the game and even though it was not shocker the ending is sad. The biggest problem I have with the game, beside the control issue, is that it seems like too safe of a game. Nothing from the formula was changed and it almost feels like someone had a checklist of things to put in a PoP game and just filled in the boxes. As I said before, this doesn’t make it a bad game. If you are looking for another Prince of Persia game from the Sands of Time universe than it is a fun ride, but it is a ride we have already been on three times before.

Reviewed by jamespugh5 – July 10, 2010

Graphics
Great outdoor backgrounds and the character models are OK. Nothing spectacular but nothing terrible either.
 
Sound
Adequate. The voice acting is good but occasion sounds drops are jarring.
 
Fun
Enjoyable PoP game that doesn’t offer much more. It depends on what you are looking for. Combat and platforming are equally flawed but enjoyable.
 
Final Score

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: