Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

December 24, 2003

--Posted by KenshiroKing @ 23:07 PST.

Hello, children. Since it looks like someone is trying to snake my job as head videogame writer here at LU, it seemed appropriate that I fire off another one of my world famous game reviews.

This month's offering, courtesy of Ubisoft, is none other than Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. This game is multi platform, and I chose to review the Xbox version. My reasoning was, as I posted recently at Gamefaqs: if a game is multi-platform and comes out for the Xbox, choose the Xbox version unless you want to deal with sub par graphics or an awkward controller (PS2 and Gamecube, respectively).

Since the Prince of Persia series was such groundbreaking franchise, I had high hopes for this, the third incarnation of the series and I was not disappointed. The story thusly goes: You are a young Prince of Persia (duh) who embarks on an excursion to conquer some Indian Kingdom (dots, not feathers). During the course of this battle, four important items are obtained, the Hourglass and Dagger of Time, a treacherous Vizier and a beautiful Princess. Upon arriving at a friendly Maharaja's castle, post-conquest, the Hourglass is presented to him as a gift. The grand vizier of the conquered Kingdom who, incidentally, betrayed his lord for you (never, EVER, trust a vizier) suggests that the Hourglass be opened using the Dagger which you now carry. Obviously being ignorant to the intrinsically untrustworthy nature of viziers, you foolishly open the hourglass and turn most of the inhabitants of the castle to sand-creatures. Inexplicably spared this fate is the Princess, the Vizier, an odd guard or two and yourself. During the course of the game you hook up with the Princess (not that way, pervert) and together the two of you attempt to undo the madness you have caused. Yay.

I am loath to compare this game to the Tomb Raider series or Ico because I fear that I will perpetuate the misconception that this game is a clone of the aforementioned games. In truth the opposite is true. The original PoP is widely considered to be the first game where you could grab on to ledges and climb them. This, in truth, makes Tomb Raider and Ico influenced by PoP, instead of the other way around. However, given that disclaimer, and the similarities between games, I must use them as reference points. So: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a platformer in the vein of Tomb Raider and Ico, bearing more along the lines of Ico. PoP takes the high marks set by Ico in visuals and game mechanics and polishes them to a mirror-like shine. Strikingly similar to Ico, and no doubt the foundation for the accusations of off-ripping, is the way that you must aid the Princess in navigating the ruins of the Maharaja's castle. However, unlike Ico, she often helps you as much as you help her. Her ability to speak the same language as you also serves as a vessel for some of the wittiest banter I have seen in a video game in lo these many years.

Visually, Prince of Persia is a sight to behold (PS2 version excluded). The ruins of a destroyed Maharaja's castle provide an excellent backdrop for some impressive level designs. Flowing tapestries, lifelike water, dust kicked up by your boots and realistic lighting effects add detail to already impressive levels, marked by their scope and depth. Sometimes I had to examine the current level carefully to determine my path because the features you could interact with blended so well with the environment.

The gameplay of PoP is outstanding. Gone are the days of simple ledge climbing and rope swinging. While PoP uses these platformer stand-bys, new features are added such as wall running and pole climbing. The impressive part of these features is in the fact that you can combine a sequence of maneuvers into a flowing ballet striking to behold. Example: Wall running along a curving barricade, jumping off the barricade to grab a horizontal pole, swinging around this pole and leaping towards another wall, posting off this wall to a ledge and pulling yourself up all accomplished with ease and grace. Even plummeting to your death is not so ugly as it has been in games passed; you can enlist the Dagger of Time to rewind time to just before the incident leading to your hideous demise, up to a certain extent.

Combat in The Sands of Time is just as impressive to see, if slightly repetitive. Platform games have always had notoriously bad combat, as their strength lies not in fighting, but traversing the levels. Your choices for combat are as follows: Sword attack, dagger attack, block, counter, evade and an impressive move where you run up your enemy and flip over them. You also possess the ability to post off walls and attack your enemies. All this makes for a merry dance of death, but in reality I found myself constantly using the same techniques over and over again for each of the battles. Don't let this detract from the game too much however, as it is par for the course for this type of platformer.

The sound for PoP is very good with well-composed music that reacts to events in the game. The sound effects are realistic and serve to liven the game up nicely. Of special note is the combat music which I found very pleasing to the ear.

Overall, this game is an excellent heir to the Prince of Persia tradition. While not as inventive as the first PoP, The Sands of Time takes a normally blasé genre and cranks it up a notch to a new level as it were.

Score: 8/10


December 28, 2003

--Posted by the Professional Ass Kicker @ 22:02 PST.

Yo yo yo. What's up Bitches? Kicker here. I just read KenshiroKing's article on the Prince of Persia. I don't play too many video games because I have a job and I go to school. I did happen to get my hands on this new P.O.P. (Prince of Persia for all you morons out there) and I thought I'd add my two cents. This will probably be the last time you see me in this section for a long time unless they start talking about Ecco the Dolphin or Mike Tyson's Punch Out. Anyway, I didn't have the chance to try the game on the Xbox, but I played around with it on the PS2. Although the general opinion of this site seems to be that the PS2 is a pants full of crap, I enjoy the system (possibly because I don't use any other.) Ignorance is bliss people.

But if you are not blessed with an XBox like KenshiroKing, never fear, the PS2 version kicks hot ass too. The controls can be a little awkward at first, but after about five minutes or so you'll get the hang of it. During these first five minutes the game puts you through something of a tutorial anyway.

The way the game works, I would say, looks to me like a mix between Tomb Raider and Matrix: Reloaded. I say Tomb Raider because of the basic game set up and environment. (Which is beautiful.) I say Matrix because of the personal character control. Running on walls and a little slow motion action. The fighting is very interesting. You will need to learn, if you don't already, to attack two or more characters at once. I don't mean first I kill this guy while the other guy stands around waiting for you to finish, then you turn around and kill that second guy. In this, these fucks will hit you in the back while you're attacking that other guy. You have to hit and turn then hit the next guy then go back and hit that first guy to keep yourself from getting killed. Never mind when you're fighting three to five guys at once. This is where the ability to vault over your enemy becomes useful. In this game, if you get surrounded, you are genuinely in trouble.

I know you guys don't want to hear too much more from me, I'm supposed to supply the poopy jokes, not serious crap like this. But overall, if you're looking for a new game to purchase, the Professional recommends Prince of Persia as the one to get.

I give it Three out of Three Asses kicked. It kicks that much ass.

Score: 3/3

I know I score differently, so fuck you. Eat my shit.