Review by darksydex3226
"The Prince is Back, and Better Than Ever"
Enter the world of Prince of Persia, a world of magic, darkness, light, and awesome acrobatics. In this new installment/reboot of the acclaimed series, you take on the role of a common bandit who, whether by luck or fate, is taken into a lost kingdom of people known as the Ahura. You quickly befriend a woman named Elika, the Princess of the Ahura. From there you are taken on a journey to stop the God of Darkness, Ahriman.
While the story-line to Prince of Persia doesn't reach the epic scales of what most people expect in a video-game today, the story supplied is good enough, even with its simplicity to have the player continue the game until the end. From the start of the game, it's quite obvious what your goal is and that goal doesn't change as you progress. I never expect a game to need an epic story-line for it to be enjoyed, and that same rule applies here. Although the story is simple, it is good in its own respect, and fun to watch it play out through the games progression, and for what it's worth, I can't wait to see where the story ends up in the assumed sequel.
As far as characters go, there aren't many. There's the Prince, and Elika (and of course the villains too, but they get just enough back-story for you to know that they're up to no good and you should beat them up). First up is the Prince; however in this game he is not a Prince, that is just a nickname for him here. He is a wise-cracking treasure hunter and thief. As the game goes on you don't learn much about our hero, and for better or worse I don't think it's truly a big deal. The Prince puts himself behind a wall, at no time really fleshing out his own back story. I think it was an excellent choice for Ubisoft to keep the mystique in his character, allowing you to wonder just what exactly he is about and why he does what he does, and now we'll just have to wait for the sequels to find out his story... if ever. Despite what most reviews have said, I really like the this new Prince, and the fact that I don't know much about him allowed me to personify myself into his character, giving me a more personal experience through the game. Whether or not that was a conscious decision on their part, I don't know.
Elika is the character whose story is more fleshed out. As the story revolves around her kingdom, and her father, I believe it would make more sense for the player's to find out more about the Prince's companion than the Prince himself. This companion for the Prince is actually really cool, and this coming from a person who originally hated the idea of having someone follow me around the entire game. If you think Elika is a hinderance to game-play (like most 'companion' characters in any game), think again. She barely, if ever, gets in your way and is only there when you want her to be. Well, maybe she did get in my way a few times, but not enough to make me dislike her and not want to play.
All in all, the story, while simple, gets the job done and leaves you curious as to how the rest of this series will end up.
This one right here is really a hit and miss with people it seems. I have been a long time PoP fan (since the SoT reboot), and even while playing those I can safely say that they made a good choice in the tweaking of game-play. The button layout is simple, and all the acrobatics are smooth and seamless. While a lot of the extra button pressing of the original PoP has been sacrificed for a simpler button scheme doesn't mean that there isn't some challenge to be had in the game. While I will admit the game has been toned down a lot for the casual masses, that doesn't mean there isn't challenge to be had in this new PoP. There were still a few points in the game that I personally had some trouble with and needed to step my game up to complete the challenges, and while some may say it didn't feel 'rewarding' due to the fact that you can never die, I still felt rewarded in the sense that I was able to continue my adventure. Oh, it seems I didn't mention that one thing, that's right... in this new game there is absolutely, positively, no way that the Prince can die. Ever. Whenever you fall off a cliff, Elika comes down and brings you to the last checkpoint you reached. If you are in combat and are about to die, Elika will use a blinding light attack to drive the enemy away and halt his fatal blow to the Prince (however the enemy will regenerate some or all of their health). However, I think this approach is just cutting the fat... basically, skips the whole painful feeling of seeing a 'Game Over' screen and having to reload the game (and possibly re-watch any forced cut scenes). Just because she saves you doesn't mean you don't have to figure out a way to tackle the obstacles before you, or figure out tactics to best your opponents.
The combat in PoP has been reworked to a 1 on 1 battle system. Now the Prince that you start with is the Prince that you finish, no upgrades to the combo system or anything like that. However, the Prince starts out with such a variety of moves and combo's that I believe it makes up more than enough for the entire game. On my third play-through and I've still yet to achieve the 14 hit combo or even the 'perform all combo's' achievement, so trust me when I say even though there's no upgrading, there's still plenty of tricks up this Prince's sleeve that makes combat fun and enjoyable. I do have a few gripes with the combat though. First of all, worked into the combat is the overused quicktime events. Basically where the game goes into it's own cut scene and you just have to follow the order of button presses. I honestly am completely fed up with this being in video-games, as they can sometimes be completely randomized and don't really show a measure of skill, just how quickly you could register what button's on the screen and how quickly you could press it. Although it's not the worst thing in the world, I think the combat would have been much better off without it, and here's to hoping they ditch it in future installments. I would've also liked more than just 1 vs 1 combat. I think they really nailed battling large groups in Assassin's Creed, and why they didn't have more enemies for the Prince to battle is beyond me, considering the same team developed both games. I also don't think there was enough combat throughout the journey, as most area's usually only have one enemy to battle on a pre-set platform (minus boss fights and whatnot).
While it's missing some challenge (and I do wish there was a Hard Mode), the game-play to PoP is still extremely fun in its own right and doesn't deserve to be overlooked by the 'can't die' system. With some work this could bring forth some of the best PoP games to be seen, in both combat and exploration.
The Music and Sound...
The music in this game sounds awesome. I love the mythical fable type feel of it, they really hit the nail as far as the score. My only gripe is that sometimes when you're traversing the world after a land is healed there isn't any music to be heard. Sometimes after a while a nice track will kick in, but I'd prefer the track to always be there. The silence bothers me, especially because the score is so well done. The voice acting is nice too, although they're missing an accent for a more authentic feel, it didn't really bother me because I enjoyed the voice work regardless. As for sound effects, yeah, you guessed it, all good. From swords clashing, to scuttling across walls, everything sounds authentic and fits right into the universe. No complaints in the sound department except for that lack of exploration music issue.
If you haven't heard by now, these graphics are incredible. Quite possibly one of the most, if not most, beautiful game I have ever played in my lifetime. The character designs look great, the environments are top notch, and the areas that are corrupted also look excellent in their dark and gritty way. It's obvious now that the graphical style Ubisoft chose for this game is perfect for the universe of Prince of Persia. It gives it that tone of magic and storybook feel that a realistic approach could never touch. Whenever you reach a new area you will be impressed, and sometimes you'll probably find yourself standing on the highest point of an area just circling your camera to get a nice view of the entire environment and backgrounds. All the character animations are top notch as well. The animation of the Prince and Elika hopping around, flipping about the lands, and gracefully dueling an enemy all looks fluid and natural. Not to mention the attention to minor details, like when the Prince runs along a wall with his gauntlet you will see the claw marks in the wall as smoke and debris come off the wall, and the gauntlet also smokes a bit when he reaches the next wall. Something else I also noticed was when you're walking, some dust and dirt will kick up around their feet as they go along. Serious attention to little things like that, and I like it.
I don't think there's any more reason to praise the graphics of this game, it looks awesome. Point black, period, the end.
Prince of Persia is a game worth experiencing from finish to end, it's a blast of a game and the first run could take anywhere from 10-15 hours, making it a pretty lengthy adventure for this sort of genre. From there some might want to run through a second time collecting light seed's and completing all the achievements. Then of course there's speed runs, no dying runs, all the sort of stuff saved for the hardcore gamer's to do and put up on the net for all to see. I'd definitely like to try some of those challenges, considering how much I enjoy the game. Can't wait to see where the series goes next.
I'm not one for the numerical scale, however I give this game an 9/10 due to some of the minor nuances pointed out.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/08/08
Game Release: Prince of Persia (US, 12/02/08)
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