Review by merlin48

"He may be a Prince, but this game's fit for a King!"

Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time snuck out, somewhat under the radar, at the end of 2003 only to end up as, in this reviewer's mind at least, one of the top 3 games of the year on any platform. Prince of Persia traps you in a humongous palace and then dares you to find your way out. Just to make sure the task isn't too easy, you'll encounter a wide array of traps and ''sand zombies'' to keep things interesting. While definitely not the most challenging game ever, Prince of Persia is no pushover either. You'll need far more than just good button mashing skills to make it out alive, you are going to have to do more than a little thinking too.

Gameplay- 10/10
As with all great games, the gameplay is where Prince of Persia shines the brightest. The combat is deceptively deep, thanks largely to the Dagger of Time that you yield for most of the game. The Dagger of Time allows you to bend time to suit your purposes, whether that be slowing down, speeding up, or rewinding time. Each of these abilities comes in very handy over the course of the game, but they don't come free. To use the Dagger, you have to have sand stored up in your Sand Tanks. Some abilities require more sand than others, but if you are completely out of sand you are on your own. You acquire more sand by thrusting the Dagger of Time into slain enemies. This is also the only way to permanently vanquish a foe. You will need to master all of the various combat abilities as this game isn't shy about throwing a lot of enemies at you at once.

Looking past the combat, the real bulk of the gameplay involves making your way through the palace. The Prince is quite an acrobatic fellow. He has a wide range of moves, from all kinds of flips and jumps to running on walls, all of which you will need to make your way through the palace in one piece. Controlling the Prince is an absolute dream! The controls in Prince of Persia are some of the most natural and intuitive ever in a game. In just minutes you will be performing some of the most amazing, acrobatic moves you have ever seen, and the animations are so well done it almost makes you think it could really be done. I can't emphasize enough how fun it is to just run around performing amazing feats with the Prince.

Story- 8/10
The Sands of Time is pretty light on story, but there's enough there to keep things moving for a reason. Without giving too much away, a traitorous Vizier tricks you into unleashing the Sands of Time in the Sultan's palace. This is not a good thing, so you spend the remainder of the game trying to undo what you have done. It's nothing too exciting but it's definitely presented well. The one weak link in the story for me was Farrah, your sidekick of sorts. The game's developers clearly want you to form some kind of emotional attachment to her by the end portion of the game, but it just never happened for me. I don't know, maybe it was just me but I never really came to care about her one way or the other. On the plus side, Farrah and the Prince do have a couple hilarious exchanges along the way.

Graphics/Sound- 9/10
Prince of Persia looks and sounds great. The characters and environments are both gorgeous, while also having a strong sense of style. The game also makes excellent use of particles and blurring to give the whole game a sort of dreamy feel. I dare anyone to find fault with the games visuals. The audio is almost as strong but does have its faults. There are some pretty dramatic changes in volume levels throughout the game that can be pretty annoying. Another weak point in my opinion has to do with Farrah's dialogue. The closer you are to her, the louder she is. While I'm sure this looked good on paper, in execution it just makes her too hard to hear in some places. I would have much rather had her lines play at the same volume all the time so I could adjust the volume accordingly to my liking.

- Awesome, empowering controls
- Fun, engaging puzzles
- Breathtaking visuals
- Some hilarious dialogue

- Number of enemies can be overwhelming at times
- Farrah seems to have nothing against shooting the Prince
- Varying audio levels can annoy at times

Final Recommendation-
It is only too easy to recommend this game to everyone. Prince of Persia plays great, looks great, and just all around feels great. It does so many things so well that almost anyone should be able to pick it up and enjoy it while it lasts. Which brings us to the one gripe a lot of people might have, the Sands of Time is not terribly long. Most people will probably beat it in around 8 hours. To me the game is well worth the purchase, but some people may be satisfied with just a rental if you have the time to plow through it in a couple of days. Either way this game is not to be missed by anyone. The Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time is an instant classic that nobody should miss.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/15/04

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