Review by Archmonk Iga
"Shirtless action at its finest."
Almost two full decades ago, the original Prince of Persia was released. Finally, old fans and new curious gamers are able to relive the magic in the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Not only does it bring back everything that is awesome about the old PoP games, it improves upon them in an almost infinitely unbelievable way. Not just that, there are so many new ideas in this installment that it's no doubt a true classic.
The fantastic story in PoP: SoT is told through a flawless first-person perspective--the Prince himself. It begins when the Prince discovers a strange dagger, ignorantly causing it to release the Sands of Time, which transforms anyone in the castle into violent sand-creatures. The Prince's goal is thus to fix the problem he created. To do this, he must acrobatically make his way through the giant castle, not only using his body, but also his quick-witted mind to set things right. Along the way he will meet the beautiful Farah, a mysterious princess, who will aid him (and maybe bang him WUP WUP!) on his mission.
Something great about the Prince is that he's not the typical "I will conquer evil!" protagonist. He's definitely more goofy and arrogant than what you'd expect, and I'd say he's got the right to be. He's got the strength, the intelligence, the looks, the skill... oh, and not to mention he's the Prince of Persia. You'll never really get to love him, but you'll nonetheless want the best for him. He's a cool kid.
Ubisoft have made great leaps in creating this epic story. The Prince's journey may take place in only one castle, but it is still a tale for the all-stars. Every moment, especially near the end, will have you in awe.
PoP: SoT looks near-perfect. The character models were each given their own individual detail, all of which look fantastic. Hair flows when running, the characters' actions run perfectly smooth, and each enemy has its own great artistic touch.
The castle itself is a masterpiece. Every single room (which there are a LOT of) looks amazing, inside, outside, in water, on fire, EVERY single area looks amazing! I seriously give my utmost respect to the people who designed the castle, because it is perhaps the single most beautiful place in a videogame of this console generation.
Then there are the little things... the particle effects, the flowing curtains, the water ripples, the fires, the sparks... And when you kill enemies, they burst not into flames, but into tiny grains of sand. Grains and grains of sand with almost no slowdown. Yeah. Beautiful.
If there were any problems, it would be with the VERY occasional clunky framerate, and the sometimes difficult-to-manage camera. These occur depending on the situation, but they're few and far between.
PoP sounds just as nice as it looks. The music definitely fits here, with loads of beautiful Mid-East tunes popping up here and there. You know how that sounds (who hasn't seen Aladdin?), and you love it! Not to mention the mystifying song that plays during the credits eerie!
The voices are also very well done. A lot of the talking goes on while you're actually playing the game, which is really cool, though now and then I would have to struggle to hear what the Prince is saying because of all the noise going on around him. I also like how his voice isn't completely stern, but it's not so goofy that the serious attitude of the game loses touch. At times he could be talking about reaching his mighty goal; at others he could be making smart-ass comments at Farah. It worked really well.
I usually don't pay much attention to sound effects in videogames, but I couldn't help but notice the awesomeness in PoP. Pillars crumbling, footsteps, water trickling, swords clashing the sounds here really enhance the experience.
The castle is a gigantic place. There's a lot to do in it! Prince of Persia boasts some of the most fun gameplay you'll experience on a platformer. It also, however, may bring about some of the most frustrating.
First and foremost is the Prince's amazing athletic prowess. How someone can do the things he does is beyond me, but it's really fun. Have him run on a VERTICAL wall for a few seconds, have him climb poles, have him jump from one pillar to another, have him swing, leap, dodge, roll yeah, you get the picture. Now this may not seem to be that big of a deal to you, but unlike many videogames, you actually MUST do these moves to proceed through the castle. Wall-running isn't just some little gimmick Ubisoft put in so the Prince looks cool you'll essentially have to wall-run in order to avoid traps or ditches.
You'll also be fighting! You get to use your sword to fight the sand-baddies, and at times Farah will use her bow and arrow to fight with you. You can straight-up fight them, sure, but what's so fun about that? I mean, why not flip over your enemy and slash their backs on your way down? Or why not leap off a wall and dive straight into one? And when you have that sand-bastard pinned, go ahead and stab it with your trusty dagger to deliver the final blow, and watch as it bursts into millions of little sand grains. Although at times you could critique battles because it's such a routine system, I never really got bored with it.
This game is called The Sands of Time, so of course there will be something dealing with time. With his newly discovered dagger, the Prince can control time itself. Are you about to fall to your doom? Better rewind time! Are all these sand-beasts too much for you to handle? Slow em all down for a little bit. Don't get too used to it, though, because you have a limited amount of Sand Power to keep controlling it. This is one of the best parts of PoP, because the tons and tons of platforming sections are often extremely frustrating. But with the ability to rewind your mistakes and retry, it dampens the frustration very much.
One last major part of PoP's gameplay is the frequent use of puzzles and traps. The traps are simple enoughdodge the spikes jutting out of walls, spiked barrels rolling down hallways, etc. But the puzzles are VERY extreme. Some of them are simple hit-the-switch, but many are pretty original. One that is easiest for me to remember is reflecting light off a bunch of mirrors in order to proceed into the next room. This requires a lot of thought and patience, and you won't stop playing until you figure it out.
Although all of this is very fun, you will no doubt have some big frustrations at times. This platformer requires a lot of work to get from point A to point B, and you will be failing at this a lot. A LOT. Of course, the rewind option is great, but it can only last you so long. Another problem is the camera, which can be very clunky on rare occasions. But these problems have been already addressed above, and that's about all I can think of as far as problems go in PoP! So good job, Ubisoft.
The main game could last you anywhere between 10 and 20 hours, largely depending on how many mistakes you make in the platforming sections. In the Xbox version, you can also unlock gameplay from the original two Prince of Persia games. Another goody is the level from the original that has been enhanced to 3-D, which is really cool. Then there is a LIVE option for Xbox users, but that's pretty lame in my opinion. Lastly, there is some Making Of content for your viewing pleasure. When all is said and done, though, you'll put this baby away for awhile. Overall, the whole game could last as little as 30 hours total.
LASTING APPEAL: 8/10
The Prince's new and improved game is one to remember. The action, the acrobatics, the whole feeling of it is pure classic gaming. I can't say how amazingly well-made Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time isplay it, experience it, love it.
OVERALL: 9/10 (With decimals it's about a 9.3 for me)
Thanks for reading =)
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/14/06
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