Review by brutusmuktuk

"A modern classic in an ancient land"

Many times game developers just don't know how to make platform games in a 3D world. Ubisoft proves they know very well how to do this. While often times, such hyped up games as this end up as disappointments, this one ends up as a classic…a classic that took gamers a while to realize was actually worthwhile. As a fan of platform games and hack n' slash action games, you would enjoy this very much, although I'm sure anybody would enjoy such a superbly crafted game as Sands of Time.

Story – 8/10

This is one of the game's weaker points, although it's nice that the game doesn't get bogged down in cutscenes and has a very cool ending, it's not as engaging as it should be. Often times the dialogue consists of the Prince and his partner, Farah, talking back and forth like children, which is supposed to entertain, but usually falls short of being funny. Even so, the story moves along as you move along in the game, much like in Ico, where the gamer seems to be in control of the story, even though no matter who plays either game they end up in the same place. That's part of the genius of the story, it moves along with each area you move to, each platform you jump onto, if that makes sense. It relies less on dialogue and more on the gamer making each successive jump. That's one of the many ways it borrows from Ico, which I must say, if Ico didn't exist, Prince of Persia would not have existed, either.

The story is as follows. The Prince is fighting a battle against an army, I'm not sure what, or what side the Prince is on, but that doesn't matter. His father and the Vizier come across an hourglass – the Sands of Time, and unlock it using the Dagger of Time. This unleashes the Sands of Time, and turns most everybody, including the Prince's father, into sand monsters who materialize out of thin air and attack the Prince throughout his journey. The Vizier becomes the villain, which is obvious from the start, and the girl, Farah, becomes the Prince's partner and love interest, which is also obvious, as she's the only girl and she wears clothes that make her stand out. In any video game, you can tell key players by those whose looks help them stand out from the crowd. The Prince and Farah fight their way to the end, to fight the Vizier, and the game has a nice twist at the end that I cannot spoil for you.

Gameplay – 10/10

When you first pick up the controller, you know you're playing a special game. That's what makes the great games stand out from the good ones, and especially the bad ones, when you can pick up the controller and know it's good. It controls wonderfully, and the Prince performs neat tricks on the screen. The game splits itself into two categories, which I will look at, both of them amazing: the action game and the platform game.

As an action game, the Prince fights through enemies smoothly, and as the game goes on, he fights more and more smoothly. Some may, and have, complained that the combat is too simple, and it is, you only have to mash one button to perform a long combo. Any combinations involve the jump button, which allows the Prince to vault over enemies or off walls and jump onto his opponent. How the Prince looks as he attacks is dazzling, and every vault move you do is fun. While the combat is simple, it does involve blocking and attacking at the right times, as, from what I've seen, not blocking will get you killed very quickly. It's not often in games before Prince of Persia that attacking from one enemy to another can be done with such ease and fluidity, and even today only a few games have bested it: Ninja Gaiden and Beyond Good and Evil to name a couple. I have heard people praise the combat of Prince of Persia 2, which I have only played a demo of, but from what I can tell the combat is the same – you can mash all of the face buttons to get a combo instead of just one. Sometimes simplicity works out better than complexity.

As a platform game, the Prince really shines. Much of the game involves running along walls, jumping from platform to platform, pulling levers, pushing buttons, and avoiding traps. What makes these sections so brilliant is how well Ubisoft designed the levels. Rarely do you see levels so intricately designed that Ubisoft must be lauded for their effort. Of course, the level designs have to make you think what shape the royal family is in, since getting from room to room requires running up walls and swinging on poles. Still, this is a video game, and you can't expect a game developer to use such logic when creating their levels – isn't it all about creating the most intricate designs and allowing the gamer to have the most fun? Much of what Ubisoft borrows from Ico is put into the platforming sections of the game. Ico wasn't as acrobatic as the Prince, but he still climbed and shimmied along multi-level ledges just like the Prince does. Fans of Ico will definitely notice the elements Prince of Persia borrows from Ico.

Visuals – 10/10

With the sand floating just above the ground, the game has a sort of dreamy haze that makes it appealing. Ubisoft doesn't try for polish and bright colors, which would just make the game look superficial, but instead makes it look a little rough while holding its dreamlike haze. Plus, there's not much that's more fun that watching the Prince vault over enemies and land slashing downward on them.

Longevity – 5/10

Unfortunately, the game only lasts about ten hours, although ten hours of good fun, but it has no replay value and there's not much incentive to play it over again. Still, make no mistake, this is a great game, one that none of the sequels have been able to equal, and is worth playing, even if only as a rental. Like all great games, it'll be a long time, if ever, that a game like this will come out again.

Score – 10/10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 01/09/06

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