Review by baba573

"prince of persia meets Quake 2, bimbos included"

After seeing so many raving reviews here I thought I had to make the record straight. "PoP2:Warrior within", the sequel to the excellent "PoP:Sands of Time" is not so good. I wouldn't call it bad, but being a fan of the first part (as well as the original 2d games) I found quite a lot to hate in this sequel. And if you didn't see it yet, be prepared that you might find a lot to hate yourself.

The PoP series (from 2D to the sands of time) always had some sort of Arabian-1001 nights-magical flair that gave it special charm. There was always violence in the game, but it's fairy-tale atmosphere had the appeal many gamers responded to. I'm sorry to say that this charm is gone, and is replaced with generic-bloody-dark-goth stuff. Be prepared that Prince of Persia now has a lot more in common with Quake and Doom than with any of its predecessors.

About the first thing you'll notice is that this game is much darker. Instead of blue and yellow, now black, brown and red dominate the scenery. Not necessarily a bad thing, if we hadn't see "dark gothic scenery" just a little bit too often lately. Next, the main protagonist is gone. Sure, the character you'll be controlling is called "the Prince", but he has nothing in common with the Prince from before. He's a long-haired foul-talking biker type who yells things like "you b*tch!" or "you really suck at this" while fighting. Also, this time around together you will enjoy blood spurting everywhere instead of the sparkly yellow sand. You know, to give that extra edge we sorely missed since so little of the games today are violent and bloody. And if that isn't enough, the female characters in this game all look like they came from some S&M leather fetish porn movie. Don't believe me? Just check out the first boss - it's a skinny chick with dark makeup, really big breasts, dressed in a metal bikini consisting of a thong and few stripes strategically covering the naughty parts. I only wish I was kidding. Now I know some of the game's intended audience will find this appealing (just look at some of the raving reviews here), but for me this just isn't the stuff you would expect in a Prince of Persia game. To further spice things up, the soundtrack now mainly consists of heavy metal riffs. If you want a preview, just fire up Quake 2 and start the first level - that's the exact thing you will listen to in new PoP game. Terrific, right?

So basically what is left from the original PoP, atmosphere-wise? Some plot threads and the name of the game. That's it.

But of course the game isn't just about the atmosphere. Even if you hate this new changes (and I think many people will) there's still gameplay to consider. Well, there are some good news, but some nasty surprises also.

One thing that was criticized in the original was the combat system - repetitive and sorta standing in the way of the fun parts. The designers listened and revamped it completely. Now it's much more complex and much more fun! Well, for some maybe. I actually didn't mind the original combat - it was easy to master and all the opponents were a breeze once you've managed to find their weakness. Now the combat system consists of seemingly millions of combo moves which are much more difficult to learn and effectively use. To worsen things up, this game has probably the most horrendous tutorial level ever, especially if you remember the elegant beginning of the first game. Now you are thrown in a fight with a bunch of enemies and tutorial "hints" flash on the bottom on the screen. They don't even teach you everything, just a few tidbits on how to fight - majority of the moves could be learned only by looking the moves list in the menu screen. You will probably not find this too bad though, since the enemies are quite easy so far. Until you find the end of the "tutorial" level. Then you meet the aforementioned porn star, and boy, does she have a few tricks up her sleeve.

This fight is probably one of the most infuriating boss battles I have ever fought - I was still learning the mechanics of the game, and here I was facing the very first boss with a humongous life bar who was soon chopping me into little pieces with just a few moves. After plenty GAME OVER screens and watching the same darn cutscenes of meeting the boss over and over again (they can't be skipped, just fast forwarded which looks cool the first time around and just plain irritating the next thirty-seven times) I learned how to beat her. The trick was quite stupid - at certain intervals she would stop her whirling attacks and just stand and let me hit her. Imagine this, ladies and gentleman. Here we have a very complex combat system, but the first hard fight you meet can be won only by blocking like a mad man and throwing a few sucker punches here and there. Great.

After the irritating tutorial the game comes back to it roots a little, and the platforming kicks in. It's reminiscent of the original, although much less intuitive this time around. The "flashes" which show you the way to proceed are gone, and the structure of the levels is not very linear anymore which is perhaps better, but sometimes confusing and can lead to frustration. There are a few nice touches - like going back and forth in time, which is sorta cool. Anyway, once you managed to pass the tutorial, you will probably start to enjoy this game at that point. Some will find it too hard though, since the game's difficulty even on easy level can be punishing at times.

I might sum all this up saying that this game is bad, but that would be lying. There is some good stuff here, the graphics are nice and the scenery is lush and pretty (if quakey). The prince animates perfectly and all those combo moves look quite nice. The puzzles are also quite good although varying in quality. Third-person camera is adequate but some of the "dramatic" camera angles often unnecessarily complicate things up. Control scheme is not bad, but PC owners this time around will have a much more frustrating experience if they choose the mouse/keyboard combination. Also, the game is challenging which in the era of quick-saves and tourist-like gameplay is a much needed breath of fresh air. But I just can't bring myself to giving it a better score than the average 5 - the designer managed to spoil so much of what was good it just shouldn't be easily forgiven.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 04/18/05

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