Review by daemonx3
"A sad advance in one of the great series of the last generation"
Yes, a 7/10.
I know a lot of people will swear by this game. It IS beautiful, and the characters ARE a lot more personable than they were in iterations past. But if those are the only improvements, with a number of steps in the wrong direction, you get a 7/10.
I know, it's not really in good taste to compare a game to previous titles of the same series. But think of it like this: if you haven't played the previous titles, you should by all means invest in those first, as you can get ALL 3 titles for the same price (or less) than this game. And if you have played them, then this review was intended for you anyways.
So with that being said, let's start this up.
There really isn't much going for it by ways of story. A great evil god is released from imprisonment at the beginning of the game and it's your job to seal it. There are no plot twists or deviations from this story; it's the entire game in a nutshell. There's nothing wrong with a linear story per se, it's just that one would hope that the creators would flesh it out a little more with a little back story both of the world in which this is taking place and of the main characters.
The main character isn't REALLY a prince, but that's not the point. They couldn't really have named this game anything else without people pointing out that it WAS a Prince of Persia game, so they just went with it. I'm fine with that, but every time there's an opportunity to flesh out his back story, he always takes a strong defensive manly' position and dismisses the question. I REALLY would like to know more about him, but you don't even learn his name throughout the game. I felt really cheated in this regard.
I suppose the real star' of this game is the female companion, Elika. She's likeable, personable, NOT annoying; all great attributes for a companion. They delve into her history a lot, and then some. And YOU CARE. It's odd to care more about the supporting cast than about the protagonist. Ubisoft did a wonderful job with her. It's just that one character isn't really enough to hold an entire game together, in terms of storyline.
In a word: Amazing. The new art direction is FANTASTIC. I know a lot of people don't really like cell shading', but there's no doubt in my mind that it fit this game 100%. The entire world actually feels like a living breathing entity. You can practically feel the wind, it's THAT amazing. Even though you're in a desert, you get sprawling grasslands, frozen cavernous ruins, a palace with a beautiful night time backdrop; even an area in the sky.
I can only hope that Ubisoft takes this approach with future PoP titles. I cannot even accurately describe how perfect this art direction was, and it'll be a cold day in hell before someone has me convinced otherwise. If your primary concern was whether or not you'd enjoy the new graphical feel, you might as well buy this game right now.
The controls are tight, but not perfect. The overall layout and response of the controls all feel very natural. You should feel right at home when controlling the Prince' within minutes. The combat takes a little getting used to, but if it were an easy hack-n-slash then THAT would be the real problem. No real complaints. The combat system itself seems a little convoluted. I don't really need 50 different combos when one is enough to get me through the entire game, and each is just a slight variant of another. Overall the control scheme was done very well.
O wait, there is one little thing. The game has this awful tendency to queue up button presses while not in combat. More times than I can count, the prince would be unable to do a particular move at the moment, and would remain still or push Elika aside. The initial move had registered and the prince was just taking his sweet time doing it, but by then I had already pressed the button again, which was also queued up, which then was also performed a full second or two AFTER the button press. So instead of wall running to a particular vine segment, I vaulted off into the abyss. It's really not that big an issue, but it does get infuriating at times. Still, 9/10.
Ultimately, this was where the game fell drastically short. It's repetitive, uninspired and easy; terribly easy. This game is also littered with quick-time events; you know, those things where the game takes over and at one point will tell you to press a particular button at the right moment to either succeed or fail. It happens all too frequently, at least a few times per fight. I'm personally indifferent to these segments, but I know a lot of people hold a major gripe towards these so just a word of warning. It IS Fun, but it's a mild version of it. I would never go back to this game just for the gameplay aspect; I would much rather load up Sands of Time or Two Thrones (PoP 1 & 3 for the uninformed) simply because there was a greater draw for the acrobatics in those games.
The acrobatics was where this series was supposed to shine, and that got replaced with magical abilities that let you jump for miles and FLY. In PoP iterations passed, when you scaled a monolith several miles high you ACTUALLY scaled it. In this installment, you fly around the ENTIRE map just to get one story higher than where you were a second ago. The acrobatics still exist, but it just doesn't feel right. When standing on a ledge several hundred meters in the air, there's no sense of accomplishment, because it wasn't all you, not by a long shot. And this was supposed to be the greatest draw of this game. It all feels wrong, and that's before considering how easy it is.
For some reason the developers decided that it was a bad thing for a player to be punished for dying. Sounds great in theory, doesn't it? The fact of the matter is, there's no sense of urgency, fear, and worst of all, no sense of accomplishment for ANYTHING in the game. It's a shame, but in all honesty I equate this game MORE to games like guitar hero than I would Prince of Persia, because the game keeps going even if you mess up on one note. Guitar hero still punishes you by making you start over from the beginning if you screw up too much, but this game coddles you to the extent that you cannot die even if you tried.
It's almost as if the developers thought that hitting quick-save and quick-load were moves too advanced for your average gamer so instead they quick-saved automatically each step you took and quick-loaded automatically when you screwed up but before you actually died. I know, the last gen PoPs had time reversal; but those were limited both in the number of times available and how far you could go back. Once you started a particularly long string of acrobatics, you were firmly committed to seeing it through.
The combat is interesting enough, but like warrior within (PoP2) it is at an extreme. Where Warrior Within had too much of it, this one lacks enough of it. Random encounters with enemies are limited to set platforms, numbering only a few per area. I'm still unsure of whether or not the random encounters outnumber the number of boss fights' in the game. Not a big' deal, but noticeable all the same.
To be honest, if I were to put my own personal value on this it would score much lower because of the disappointment I felt, especially since I consider the PoP series to be the best series to have come out last generation. But just as a gamer I'll give credit where credit is due. It's not perfect, but it's certainly not broken. Is it fun? meh. I personally wish that I had rented this and am currently thinking of all the wonderful titles I can trade it in for.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/05/08
Game Release: Prince of Persia (US, 12/02/08)
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