Review by GreatMutah
"The story comes full circle"
A little over two years ago, Ubisoft brought back the Prince of Persia series with The Sands of Time. This game took a different approach to the 3D action genre. Rather than trying to be a Devil May Cry clone or a gap filler while people were waiting for Ninja Gaiden, the Sands of Time offered a unique type of action game, one where platforming and puzzle solving were more important than the actual combat. A very rewarding game to play, with an excellent story to boot, PoP:Sands of Time did very well for Ubisoft and garnered quite a following. A year later Ubisoft returns with the Warrior Within, the follow up to Prince of Persia. Depending on who you ask, this game either was a great improvement over the first or a misstep in the series. The main complaints were levied at the darker direction of the game and the very callous character the Prince had become. Still, Warrior Within provided a great storyline and followed up the original nicely and greatly enhanced the combat engine by employing a Free Form Fighting system. So now Ubi's released The Two Thrones, a game that picks up right where the second one left off. So how does it fare?
In a word, beautiful. The ancient city of Babylon is presented very well. The city itself is amazing and everything from the rooftops of buildings, to palaces all way to the sewers themselves are displayed beautifully. The lighting in the game is excellent, as the different areas showcase their lightsources beautifully. The creatures are some of the most impressive yet in the series and the animation seems to have been tightened up a little bit more. The main characters look excellent, although there are times when you can tell that the graphics engine is starting to show it's age. Still, overall, the game presents it's time very well, and the only game outside of this series that presented an ancient civilization this well was God of War. The asthetics and architecture are amazing and just add to the beauty of this game. The sand effects are also excellent and are more prevalent than they were in previous releases.
It's a Prince of Persia game. Therefore if you've loved the previous PoP's gameplay, you will love this one. To the uninitiated, the Prince is not only a fairly proficient swordsman, he's also an excellent acrobat as well. Being able to walk on walls, leap between columns, scale buildings, swing off of poles and evade traps are all part of being the Prince. Likewise the combat is also very well done with different abilities and moves available depending on whether you are carrying only one weapon or dual-wielding. The base combat engine is very much the same from Warrior Within, and the collision detection has been improved. And of course, the time powers make their return, with the Prince being able to rewind and slow time as well as use the sands as a combat advantage.
New to this outing are Speed Kills. Adding a bit of stealth to the game, if the Prince is able to sneak up on a foe unnoticed, he can innitiate a Speed Kill. Once started, the player has to time a series of button presses. If successful, the Prince will easily dispatch of his opponent. If the player mistimes the attack, well, you've got to do it the old fashioned way. The Speed Kills add a lot to the game. The added stealth element works incredibly well (you don't have to use it if you don't want to, for all the non stealth types) and it helps the flow of the game. Plus, some of the animations are just awesome.
Also new to the series is the Dark Prince, the more ghastly alter-ego of our hero. The Dark Prince dual wields constantly as he not only carries the standard Dagger of Time, but a weapon called the dagger tail, which functions similarly to a whip/flail. Also, when the player is the Dark Prince, the player's life slowly drains and can only be replenished by collecting more Sands of Time. This can sometimes be a hindrance but can be worked around. The Daggertail is not only a new weapon to play with but can function like a grappling hook in some situations and carry the Prince further than where he could be able to go normally. The downside to the Dark Prince is that, as cool as some of the stuff he does is, he doesn't feel that much different than the regular character. The daggertail could have been exploited a little bit more (say, like the Blades of Chaos in GoW) but overall, the character is still a nice addition to the game and definitely fits with the story.
So how does this all work together? The platforming and combat, more so than ever, have been integrated fully. The stealth kills can be initiated from various vantage points that you will reach via platforming through the areas, and each is a means to the other, not a complete separation as in the first game and more integrated than in the second. Many of the boss fights require some element of platforming and Speed Kills in order to move on, so it's nice to see the series utilizing all of its elements together. Add some high speed chariot races for some extra fun and tension and the game just flies. Overall, the game flows excellently and the pacing is great. A great balance of the elements from both previous games.
The music is awesome. Less rock and more middle eastern mysticism. It fits the time very well and works better than the Nu-metal of Warrior Within (to be fair, I actually liked a lot of the rocking soundtrack in WW). The voice acting is pretty good too. Most of the characters sound great and having the original voice actor to play the Prince helps out a lot. The voice of the Dark Prince is also well done and their internal bantering against one another can actually be quite comedic at times. The sound effects are many of the same ones from the other games, which isn't bad, but they could've added some more. Overall though, very solid.
This game is incredible. It serves as a great marriage of platforming and over the top action and serves even better as a great story. A fitting end to the trilogy, The Two Thrones stands tall above its predecessors and makes its own name. The storyline alone is worth the playthrough, but the fact that the game is as good as it is is an added bonus. Overall, another great title from Ubisoft Montreal and a fitting conclusion to the Sands of Time.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/04/06
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