--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
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.