"If you have a pulse, this game is for you."

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is the latest endeavor from Ubi Soft, the company behind Splinter Cell. Objectively speaking, this game sets the bar for design, graphics and sound, and presentation. Non-objectively, this game kicks ass. Major ass. This is the kind of game that puts other games to shame. This game makes other games curl into a fetal position and weep at their sheer inadequacy. On to the details...

The presentation of the story is one of the most unique I've seen. The game is told in retrospect, with the Prince narrating events as the game unfolds. This makes the player feel like they are accomplishing something even if they are merely from one point to another without fighting anything or solving a puzzle. If the Prince should die, you'll hear him say ''No, no, it didn't happen like that. Let me start again.'' A very unique and immersing way to tell an impressively put-together story.

This is the meat. The sheer volume of the Prince's incredibly acrobatic moves and the intuitive ease at controlling every aspect of those moves is unparalleled. Fighting multiple enemies has never been easier. And puzzle solving? Run along the wall to a pole that you use to swing up to another wall which you must kick off of to reach a series of columns... and do it without skipping a beat or taking a breath. It all flows with an almost supernatural smoothness. In fact, the game is so well-designed that any death that results from trying to solve a puzzle has nothing to do with sloppy controls or camera work. And not even death can stop our hero... that brings us to...

The Dagger of Time
You've made that leap and miscalculated by an inch. You're plummeting to your death. NOT so fast. Holding the left trigger button activates the Dagger of Time and rewinds your mistake, giving you another chance (as long as you have a full Sand Tank). That isn't to say you won't die or that it makes the game too easy. If nothing else, it rids the game of the annoyance of mis-stepping once and having to redo the last twenty minutes of gameplay. You can also slow time, hasten time (which results in an anime-esque attack sequence wherein the Prince absolutely butchers every enemy in sight for a limited amount of time), freeze a single enemy in time, and look into the future at save points to get small glimpses of the upcoming area and challenges. The effect used in the game of reversing time is also one of the coolest I've ever seen in a video game.

The icing on the cake and an integral part of the gameplay. The game has a very unique soft-glow effect makes the entire game look like a living storybook. The entire game engine takes advantage of this effect, even down to the swift and stylish camera cuts. The animation in Prince of Persia rivals that of any given Disney movie. The Prince transitions from any given position or action to any other smoothly and naturally. Sometimes you'll find yourself slowing time just to admire the fluidity of the animation. Backgrounds are immense and absolutely breathtaking. Castle interiors, dungeons, beautiful exteriors... they all fit naturally into the world and into the storyline. The sound is also top-notch. Voice acting is extremely well done - and well written. I found myself laughing out loud at some of the Prince's little monologues.

Do yourself a favor and get this game. I was as skeptical as they come when it came to this game, even after it received rave review after rave review. It lives up to the hype and has become the benchmark for action/adventure games in my eyes.


Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/07/04

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