Review by jobe13

Reviewed: 11/24/03

Legitimate proof that games can be art

I don't like platform games. I've been a gamer for years and that is simply a genre I've never taken to.Sure,I've played my fair share of Mario,Crash,and more recently Sly Cooper,but on the whole I don't care for platformers.So when a new Prince of Persia was announced I really wasn't all that enthused. I've never been so happy to be wrong.
The problem I now face is exactly where to begin with this review. Should I start with the magnificent gameplay?How about the incredibly immersive story?Let's just start by saying that the graphics in this game are among the best I've seen in a game.Ever.The environments are fantastical while at the same time maintaining a sense of reality.One would think that since the entire game takes place in one huge castle the rooms would repeat themselves ad nauseam(looks at Halo).But the developers have foreseen the fickleness that is the discriminating gamer and crafted what is the most inherently consistent and immersive world since GTA3.I have stayed in several rooms much longer than necessary to complete simply because I was in awe of the design and pure beauty of the architecture.But the level design goes much further than asthetics.Each room is a puzzle whose completion allows progression in the story,yet you never get tired of exploring each room,wondering where that crack in the wall might lead.
The characters are a pure joy to watch.The prince moves with such fluidity you will wonder why this is not the standard.The best way to describe the control?Intuitive. I rarely use the default controls,but PoP is so spot-on that I haven't even checked the control page to see the level of customability.And the variety of combat moves at your disposal will keep you busy for a long time just trying out different tactics.
Combat normally occurs when you enter a new area.You go in and clear out the baddies so you can concentrate on solving the area's puzzle. There is a decent variety of enemies and some require different tactics to defeat than others. While this aspect isn't entirely fresh,it is fun and that's what matters.
New to the series is the ability to control time.Some games have tried this before,with varying degrees of success(good=Max Payne,bad=Blinx).Yes,there is the obligatory bullet-time effect,along with haste and stop.But a new and refreshing concept is the rewind feature.If you miscalculate a jump,get sawed in half buy one of the many palace security traps,or get sliced by a halberd-wielding sand creature,you can rewind time to a total of 10 seconds previous to where you activated the rewind. However,for this to work you must have the required number of full sandtanks. Different time functions require various amounts of sand that you store in the sandtanks. Sandtanks may be replenished by performing a ''finishing move'' on fallen enemies or by finding special sandspots scattered throughout the game.
All in all this has been the most pleasant surprise I've had with a game all year. Although I do find myself wanting to finish the combat in each level early just so I can spend time wandering around and solving puzzles at my leisure,I can't help but give this game high praise simply on the merits of the fun to be had within.Buy without hesitation.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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