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Jeremy Jastrzab
29 Dec, 2010

Prince of Persia Trilogy Review

PS3 Review | That's a lot of Prince.
Since backwards compatibility has been dropped, the potential for releasing the ‘classics’ from past generations has been exploited on all three consoles through online services. However, until the release of the remastered God of War Collection, the potential of disc-based re-releases hadn’t been considered much. The eminent success of this move has prompted a resurgence for some series of the last generation, including the recent Sly Trilogy and the upcoming Team ICO compilation. However, PlayStation 3 gamers and PAL territories are the only ones to be treated to a HD remastering of last generation's Prince of Persia trilogy.

Upon release, all three games were considered front-runners of innovation, gameplay excellence and (occasionally) story telling of the previous generation. As far as platformers go, the Prince of Persia Trilogy titles were among the premier titles of the genre, though one of only a few that were available outside of Sony’s golden trio of Sly, Jak and Ratchet. Upon retrospect, it’s interesting to view each of the three titles as the product of their time and how the modern trends affected game development. The games have been given a High Definition remastering to be clean and playable on modern consoles, as well as viewable in stereoscopic 3D. However, that all three games are virtually direct ports, may raise some points of conjecture. Some will argue that leaving the games untouched retains the integrity of the original experience and vision. However, others may view it as a missed opportunity to polish and improve the overall experience, or to add modern conveniences. An example of the latter would have been to add subtitles to both Sands of Time and The Two Thrones, or possibly more collectables and unlockables.

Regardless, the litmus test of a game’s greatness is how well it holds up over time, and all three of the titles in Prince of Persia Trilogy have held up remarkably well over the last seven years. In fact, they even manage to show up the attempted resurrection of this generation, The Forgotten Sands. It’s almost surprising that more developers haven’t attempted to recreate this style of gameplay, with the closest being Ubisoft’s own offerings and a few dashings within Uncharted.

It's still awesome.

It's still awesome.
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The first game in the trilogy, The Sands of Time, is undoubtedly the best. The much heralded return of the franchise in 2003 was driven by the trend mechanic of the time… time manipulation. Arguably started by ‘Bullet Time’ from Max Payne, The Sands of Time added in the ability to reverse and correct your errors to the usual controlled slow-downs. However, it was the recreation of an ‘Arabian Nights’ environment and storybook presentation that solidified the package. The young Prince, having acquired the ‘Dagger of Time’, needs to correct his error of releasing the ‘Sands of Time’ and prevent the evil and traitorous Vizier from attaining immortality.

The combinations of puzzles and (at the time) innovative and acrobatic platforming mechanics hold up remarkably well from the last seven years. The combat mechanics don’t hold up quite as well. The combat was never great, but it becomes serviceable once you get a good handle of it. However, it’s the remarkably well-told and emotionally charged story that carries a magical tale. The more cartoon-like style and artistic direction allows the animations and vistas to actually be remarkably easy on the eyes (even after seven years). However, the game displays how far sound design has come over the years, and the argument for improving the game over porting comes to the fore when you’re encountered with the graphical and technical glitches.

Unfortunately, Sands of Time was a victim of the silly season, silly exclusivity arrangements and underperformance at the cash register. Ubisoft’s response was mixed, as they interpreted that a change of direction was required. Warrior Within, was too, a product of its time (2004), where it seemed that every game had to be ‘dark and gritty’. This led to a more ‘realistic’, dark and violent game. The resulting ‘game’ actually had a lot of improvements and very impressive scale, but it was the startling transformation of the Prince’s character and unfulfilling story that left the faithful high and dry.

It's still annoying.

It's still annoying.
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The story premise is actually pretty good; the Prince is attempting to outrun death at the hands of infernal guardian of time, the Dahaka, and reaches the Island of Time to try and stop the Sands of Time from ever being created - thus changing his fated death. What could have been a great tale of desperation and fighting fate was actually too dark and too angst-driven. Never did you feel that the Prince was desperate or afraid, just angry and spiteful. That, and the story didn’t all quite hold together, and both game endings are quite unfulfilling and self-indulgent.

This is actually a real shame, as there are some really great gameplay improvements and the visuals ofWarrior Within benefit the most from the HD upgrade. The biggest addition was the use of a fairly ‘open’ castle that allowed you to perform your acrobatics, while exploring the way for yourself. It was like one giant puzzle. The combat is a mechanical improvement, with vast additions and possibilities, though it’s let down somewhat by some schizophrenic enemies and closed environments that can get in the way. The more realistic art style doesn’t hold up as well over time, though it’s the sound design and glitches that are the most noticeable.

Following the critical beating, Ubisoft went back to the beginning with The Two Thrones to finish off the trilogy. By retaining features such as the story-telling presentation and a linear approach with more focused on platforming, while at the same time making aspects such as boss fights (mainly introduced in Warrior Within) less of a grind, the developers finally got back to the right place. Returning home from the Island of Time, the Prince is again faced by the Vizier and his nefarious denizens, as he learns the lessons that he should have across his travails. While not quite as charming as Sands of Time, it was a much welcome return.

It's there. Just because.

It's there. Just because.
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Again, a number of modern trends can be observed, this time from 2005. Since your primary weapon ends up being the Dagger of Time, The Two Thrones allows you to primarily resort to stealth. As such, in combat and boss battles, you’ve got a lot quick time events, which started appearing regularly after Shenmue, Resident Evil 4 and God of War. With a renewed linear focus on the platforming and puzzles, the game introduces ‘Dark Prince’, an alter ego that plays a lot differently to the regular Prince. A much more illuminate game than Warrior Within, the graphical fidelity is tested at times through a number of nagging glitches. Thankfully, sound design is probably at its best here.

While all three games hold up remarkably well, some aspects such as the mechanics, the controls and the camera (particularly noticeable in The Two Thrones) all could have done with some tweaking. The 3D works pretty well, though the lower graphical detail doesn’t allow the technology to shine as much as it could. It's a nifty gimmick but not quite a selling point. However, the big issue with the ports is that they’ve brought over all the glitches and deficiencies, and a little more too. Each title crashed at least once during the review period. The package does come across purely as a face-lift, with very little having been done outside of it. However, at a budget price, you’re getting three good games that will take at least 10 hours each, so there is value in the package.

The Prince of Persia Trilogy, on the surface, is an amazing package with a great price tag. These three games have held up remarkably well and are shining examples of the best that the last generation had to offer, while the 3D is a functional gimmick. However, the package does raise questions over the porting integrity. Gameplay improvements and additions are pretty moot in such a package, but it’s the graphical, sound and gameplay glitches that dampen an otherwise magical experience and make you wonder how much effort has been put into the creation of the disc. Still, if you missed it them the first time, you’ve got no excuses now to experience some of the finest action platformers of the last decade.
The Score
In The Prince of Persia Trilogy, you have three of the finest games of the last generation in one cost effective package, but have brought along some unnecessary baggage too. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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12 Comments
3 years ago
When you say "each title crashed at least once", is that "they crashed a couple of times" or "crashes were a serious issue"?
3 years ago
The Sands of Time: once
Warrior Within: twice
Two Thrones: once
3 years ago
Jeremy wrote
The Sands of Time: once
Warrior Within: twice
Two Thrones: once
Cool, thanks. icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
gotta ask- did you complete them all jeremy? Or did you just play a bit of each to get a sense of whats there? Because that'd give insight as to how much time you spend on the game and how buggy they are (or not).
3 years ago
Any extras or is it just wham bam thank you mamm the games as they were on gamecube.

Basically if I allready own the games is it worth buying this?
3 years ago
@THEMAN, yep, I played through all three. Though I played through them all back in the last gen too. Aside from the crashes - which mainly happened in transitions through cut scenes or through save points - there are minor graphical flaws (clipping, animation and physics based - in Two Thrones, Farah's hair kept flowing through her neck), sound glitches such as missing sound bits and static (yeah I don't get it either) and minor gameplay glitches related to the graphical ones. Nothing really gamebreaking, but certainly noticeable.

@Benza, definitely a wham-bam-thankyoumaam job - aside from the digital remastering and 3D of course. It's a basic collection and not worth much more if you can easily play the ones you already own.
3 years ago
bought for my bro for christmas for 16 pounds. Lets than 10 bucks a game. Great value since they are 23 or so on the psn network
3 years ago
Hm, I'm interested... but how much space do you need for all 3 games combined? My PS3 has about 6 GB left, I can't imagine them taking up that much space, but just in case... (and Heavy Rain's installation took up a lot of space, I could uninstall it to free some space if I really need it)

I got €50 with Christmas, and on PSN the trilogy costs about €45, it's perfect!
3 years ago
zavvi are selling it for 16 pounds get it from there?
3 years ago
el_supraman wrote
zavvi are selling it for 16 pounds get it from there?
Oh, the price isn't a problem, I just need to know how much free space I'd need when buying the 3 games from PSN. I can't seem to find that information... only found it about the disc version so far.

(Ugh, do those spambots have to bug us every friggin' day? Miserable pests)
3 years ago
Xernova wrote
I just need to know how much free space I'd need when buying the 3 games from PSN.
I think the first one is about 2.5gb but I did not check so im not 100% sure.

I heard the prince wore ed hardy and jordans I better buy quick before these lowlife scum get banned
3 years ago
^ Yeah, it was a bit more, but I decided to uninstall Heavy Rain (still have the savedata anyway).
Sands of Time => about 2.6 GB
Warrior Within => about 3.9 GB
The Two Thrones => also about 2.6 GB

With Heavy Rain uninstalled, I've still got some free space left now (almost 4 GB). But yeah... guess it's time for another HDD or a new PS3 altogether. Depends on the price. Anyway, PoP trilogy purchased and the 3rd one just finished installing. Time to see if it's as good as they say...!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  25/11/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Ubisoft
Year Made:
  2010
Players:
  1

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