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Jeremy Jastrzab
09 Jan, 2009

Prince of Persia Review

360 Review | A new and princely beginning.
In 2003, Ubisoft revived the perennial Prince of Persia franchise with a whole new take. Pioneering the 'time control' mechanic, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time set the standard for action-adventure titles that would last a generation. A trilogy was eked out, though for all the improvements, neither the underrated Warrior Within nor the forgotten The Two Thrones managed to resonate with gamers and critics as the original did. Having rounded off that trilogy in 2005, Ubisoft has since been looking to reinvigorate the franchise with a fresh start on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Simply dubbed Prince of Persia, our new hero is a mysterious tomb raider who stumbles upon a crumbling kingdom while trying to find his lost donkey, Farah. Joining forces with the Princess of the kingdom, Elika, they try to prevent the revival of the ancient God of Darkness, Ahriman, whose ‘corruption’ was released by Elika's father. Some will definitely appreciate how the story reverts to a classical storybook tale, reminiscent of Sands of Time. However, given the structure of the game, it may come off as a bit too simple for some, as there is not a lot of room for advancing. Basically, your main objective is repeated a little too often.

Odd couple. Great team.

Odd couple. Great team.
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There is a very large contrast between the last Prince and the new one, though you’re never explicitly told that he’s the "Prince". The last one was rather graceful and acrobatic, though also a whiny little sod, while the new one is tough, rugged, full of cheesy action one-liners and somewhat reflects the famous sci-fi rogue, Han Solo. Still, he’s a character that one can warm to very well. Where the Prince has often been a loner, he’s now stuck with Princess Elika and the clash in characters is rather obvious. However, it’s a relationship that ends up working very well and progresses nicely throughout the game, despite the structure.

Prince of Persia retains a lot of the conventions set by the original trilogy, while making some bold new moves of its own. Most obviously is the new visual direction, which has been pulled off in a rather stunning fashion. This is matched with a superb range of vision, a much more ambitious environmental setup and an amazing contrast between the cleansed landscape and the corrupted landscape. Apart from a few minor pauses from time to time, the game runs extremely fluidly as well. The visuals are backed up with some good voicing, vibrant sound effects and a soundtrack that soothingly reflects an Arabian Nights type theme.

Prince of Persia does not keep the point A to B structure of Sands of Time or Two Thrones, nor the open puzzle of Warrior Within. Instead, you have a temple which acts as a hub to four different areas. Within each of the four areas, you have five separate grounds that require cleansing from the corruption. Cleansing is done by making your way to the ‘fertile ground’ in each. This is easier said than done, as you have to make your way through some typical Prince platforming puzzles, that include wall running, column climbing and seemingly unreachable perilous jumps as well as a few new ones. Replacing the old mechanical traps, are bottomless caverns and the ‘corruption’ of Ahriman.

The cleansed grounds are so much nicer to look at.

The cleansed grounds are so much nicer to look at.
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As mentioned the Prince is not as graceful this time around, as demonstrated by his clawed glove that allows him to scrape down walls. Furthermore, Elika is no useless AI baggage. Aided by the magic of the God of Light, Ormazd, Elika assists the Prince in platforming, navigating and combat situations. So while it may be a little odd at first that the Prince is no longer working alone, they happen to make a pretty good team. In particular, there are a few interesting exchanges that you can trigger by pressing the L button/trigger.

In a unique and controversial twist, it is impossible for you to die in Prince of Persia. Some have argued that this makes the game too easy, while we found it to be something of a relief. Yes, having Elika save you everytime that you make a false jump or stuff up in combat does make the game easier than its predecessors. However, this choice allows for the game to flow, something which is necessary for a game that is about athletic and flowing movements. Particularly because it allows for you continue playing without constantly needing to restart. Furthermore, it has allowed the developers to create visually imposing obstacles that look like they are hard to pass. This is an area in which Mirror’s Edge failed. Furthermore, it doesn’t necessarily make the game easy either, as it still takes some effort and thought to get to where you need to go, though it does take out a lot of the frustration that usually is attached to such games.

However, this system is somewhat exposed in the combat. While it was refreshing to only have a handful of bosses and ‘generic’ enemies to fight, it was felt that the enemies were given too much ability in light of your advantages. The combat works and there are some nice combos to discover, though sometimes the enemies are too aggressive. For example, we had numerous instances of playing ‘deflect’ tennis, where our skilful blocks and deflects weren’t really rewarded. There are four bosses in the game, and each poses a unique challenge. However, fighting the boss happens before each cleansing so you’ll have to verse them five times each. While it does get somewhat repetitive, the structure of the game tries to help you by not needing you to verse them more than two times in a row. You can if you want to but that’s your choice.

Showing him who's boss.

Showing him who's boss.
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Even though the Prince starts the game with all his general abilities available, to get to all the areas in the game you need to unlock four different powers of Ormazd. These allow you to ‘get’ to the fertile grounds. However, once you cleanse said grounds you are then required to collect light seeds, which are the currency for buying these powers. It is a bit strange that you figure out your way to the fertile grounds, only to then be required to once again trek these paths to do the collecting, but what this does do is allow you to appreciate the scale and design of the game, which shows to be a rather remarkable achievement and compelling for the whole 12-15 hour experience. However, like Assassin's Creed, this set up is likely to frustrate those who are looking to plough through the game, rather than going with the flow. Maybe if you didn't have to collect so many...

Prince of Persia makes a bold move with the new direction and a bold sacrifice of difficulty in favour of game flow. In our eyes, these moves have paid off handsomely, as the game mixes an audio/visual experience with a free-flowing, intricately designed experience that is entirely unique and thoroughly compelling. Some may dismiss the game as a glorified quick time event, or one that is too easy. However, never at any stage did the game feel ‘casual’, nor any worse off for it. For this kind of game that relies on flow and continuity, it happens to work extremely well that you never have to view a game over screen. Quite simply, Prince of Persia successfully mixes in a familiar experience with a new one, to provide a unique, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable final product.
The Score
Prince of Persia makes some bold design decisions that manage to come off well and they provide a great new start for the evergreen franchise.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Prince of Persia Content

Prince of Persia Epilogue now available
06 Mar, 2009 So what happened to Elika and the Prince?
Prince of Persia DLC delayed
26 Feb, 2009 Release date pushed to early March.
Prince of Persia DLC coming next month
30 Jan, 2009 It's called Epilogue.
21 Comments
5 years ago
Agree about everything in this review - including the score icon_razz.gif

I'm still yet to play through all of it, though I should get in on it later today. Great review.
5 years ago
Call me a grammar nazi, but "verse them" really grinds my gears.
"Fight them" would be much better, "verse them" makes it sound like a 12 year old wrote it.

No offence, I'm weird like that.
5 years ago
Jammers wrote
Call me a grammar nazi, but "verse them" really grinds my gears.
Yeah, 'verse' isn't a verb. Unless you're quoting poetry at them, I guess.

As almost always, I agree with the review. The bit about the 'no dying' malarkey is spot on; exploration would never have been as much fun if you had to worry about dying and loading and respawning with every missed jump. And you still have to restart if you fall in a long platforming stretch, so it's really just a more liberal checkpoint system without the words "Game Over" appearing on screen. It's not so great in the combat, though. I think the punishments for being beaten should have been more harsh; the bosses should have regained all of their health, not just some.

I had a few minor problems with the game (mostly the Yellow and Green plates, which are almost solely trial and error), but it does so much right that they're easily overlooked. I loved the combat system and, while the platforming was easier, it was much more frequently used. In the old games it felt like you were running from platforming section to platforming section, but in the new one almost all of your movement is jumping or wallrunning or swinging with no real distinction between running and platforming. And not enough can be said of the story. It has the single best ending of any game I've ever played.
5 years ago
Yep I agree. I too saw the similarities in the problems with POP and AC.

Repetition and being forced to collect heaps of items to progress. It becomes a chore instead of being fun.

Other than that, it's still a good game.

Sands of Time is still the best POP.
5 years ago
Jeremy wrote
somewhat reflects the famous sci-fi rogue, Hans Solo.
Thats Han Jeremy. I thought I taught you better icon_razz.gif . Cool review, I'll get around to playing it eventually.....
5 years ago
Nice review. I intended to pick this one up on launch day but I've been catching up since then. This will be my next game though for sure.
5 years ago
matrix-cat wrote
Yeah, 'verse' isn't a verb. Unless you're quoting poetry at them, I guess.
Oh man, that genuinely made me laugh out loud. icon_lol_old.gif

I haven't had a chance to play this game yet, still playing catch-up on the pre-Christmas rush. While most of the internet seems to be rubbishing the "no death" thing, it's exactly what I want from a game- I play games for the experience, not for the challenge (and frustration).
5 years ago
jedi022 wrote
Jeremy wrote
somewhat reflects the famous sci-fi rogue, Hans Solo.
Thats Han Jeremy. I thought I taught you better icon_razz.gif . Cool review, I'll get around to playing it eventually.....
Apologies Boss icon_redface.gif icon_razz.gif
5 years ago
matrix-cat wrote
Jammers wrote
Call me a grammar nazi, but "verse them" really grinds my gears.
Yeah, 'verse' isn't a verb. Unless you're quoting poetry at them, I guess.

As almost always, I agree with the review. The bit about the 'no dying' malarkey is spot on; exploration would never have been as much fun if you had to worry about dying and loading and respawning with every missed jump. And you still have to restart if you fall in a long platforming stretch, so it's really just a more liberal checkpoint system without the words "Game Over" appearing on screen. It's not so great in the combat, though. I think the punishments for being beaten should have been more harsh; the bosses should have regained all of their health, not just some.

I had a few minor problems with the game (mostly the Yellow and Green plates, which are almost solely trial and error), but it does so much right that they're easily overlooked. I loved the combat system and, while the platforming was easier, it was much more frequently used. In the old games it felt like you were running from platforming section to platforming section, but in the new one almost all of your movement is jumping or wallrunning or swinging with no real distinction between running and platforming. And not enough can be said of the story. It has the single best ending of any game I've ever played.
DAMN, Yahtzee pretty much spoiled the story for me. I know I shouldn't have watched the video in the first place, but when I watched it I had no idea I would go out and buy it a week later. I am only far enough to have beaten one boss once, but his orgasm grass finger Y button joke thing made that part hilarious in game. I hope people know what I am going on about there, I would watch it again so I can quote him better, but I don't want to remind myself of more.
5 years ago
matrix-cat wrote
Jammers wrote
Call me a grammar nazi, but "verse them" really grinds my gears.
Yeah, 'verse' isn't a verb. Unless you're quoting poetry at them, I guess.

As almost always, I agree with the review. The bit about the 'no dying' malarkey is spot on; exploration would never have been as much fun if you had to worry about dying and loading and respawning with every missed jump. And you still have to restart if you fall in a long platforming stretch, so it's really just a more liberal checkpoint system without the words "Game Over" appearing on screen. It's not so great in the combat, though. I think the punishments for being beaten should have been more harsh; the bosses should have regained all of their health, not just some.

I had a few minor problems with the game (mostly the Yellow and Green plates, which are almost solely trial and error), but it does so much right that they're easily overlooked. I loved the combat system and, while the platforming was easier, it was much more frequently used. In the old games it felt like you were running from platforming section to platforming section, but in the new one almost all of your movement is jumping or wallrunning or swinging with no real distinction between running and platforming. And not enough can be said of the story. It has the single best ending of any game I've ever played.
best ending? WHAT!

working towards the WHOLE GAME to do a task constantly badgering how bad her fathers decision was, then at the last second reasleasing a dark god thatw as inevitably going to kill them all just to have her life despite her hinting to him lke 20 times she was going to die again?

as for the reveiw, I agree with pretty much all of it. Dont really enjoy collecting the light seeds as I have two days left to get the whole 1000 and I still have 100 light seeds + 2 speedruns and my combo to get through, as well as a whole playthrough reserved for late tonight and tommorow to try and not die 100 times, but overall its a very good game. I think you run way to slow, and at the start I was trying to acutally find a 'run' button to sumpliment his normal speed. Fluidity is fun but
5 years ago
Artistically it's a beautiful game I love the character models and Elika is hot. I really enjoy the Persian religious mythology it sticks really well to Zoroastrianism from which it has heavily borrowed much of the storyline. The music is really really good too. They've included my much loved how do i get from here to there aspect of prince of Persia which I've always loved it for.

I'm still undecided about the no dieing within the game on one hand it's novel and is more realistic because when you do die in most other games it just reloads to the last save point. However there seems like no consequences to dieing in this one and the frequent Elika save sequence becomes tiresome and annoying.

Boss battles tend to get old really quick. The difference between them is too minute to offer ongoing interest. The dialogue between Elika and The Prince can be annoying and repetitive especially when you want to get to the fleshy part of the story a dialogue tree may of been useful at the main story driven moments. Instead of having to press a button repetitively to seek the questions and answers you want.

It's a 7 out of 10 for me there's enough polish to have fun with this game and it's definately worth a play through maybe only once though.
5 years ago
Commentator wrote
best ending? WHAT!
i, too, thought it was a very good ending.

(SPOILERS - seriously, if you haven't finished the game, do not read this.)
maybe i'm dense, but i didn't really get the underlying message of what Elika was trying to say until the big reveal as to why her father was doing what he was doing - i mean, i realised it was a resurrection of some sort, but given she was always going on about how her mother's death drove him into depression, i assumed it was hers. ("always going on" assumes you actively talked to Elika whenever given the opportunity - discovered all the optional plot, as obviously it would be entirely possible to not watch any of the story exposition, and thus miss a lot, and potentially give the plot twist less impact.)

the part that changed it from merely a good, non-conventional, but still, in a way, Hollywood ending (Elika dying/sacrificing herself) into a brilliant ending was making the Prince walk in her father's footsteps. but not just from the story perspective, but the whole package - the juxtaposition of having the world in now a very bright and lively place, but with such a dour and heavy mood. the absence of music as you make your way to the key-trees.

in all honesty - i had trouble cutting down the trees. to me the revelation of why Elika was doing what she was doing, and knowing she wouldn't have wanted me to cut them down made it difficult for to do it, but at the same time, i liked Elika. i didn't want her to die. forget the supposed moral dilemma of harvesting or rescuing Little Sisters - this was true moral dilemma.

and personally, i'm glad it took the risk with that ending.

i also look forwards very much to the next game to see the interaction of Elika and the Prince, mostly because if her father is any indication, the Prince is set to become an avatar of darkness, where Elika remains an Avatar of the light.


however, i will echo what others have said - some of the special power plates were implemented very poorly, and i hope they fix that up for the next game.
5 years ago
I haven't had a chance to play this being a Wii owner (plan to update comp in next 6 months), but I don't get all the gripes about 'not being able to die'...

<rant>

How is it any different to the previous trilogy, where you could (usually) rewind time to prevent your death? Seeing as they aren't doing the time mechanic anymore, they had to change the rewind thing, and now it's been embodied in an AI character.

</rant>

Does anyone else find it creepy that his donkey has the same name as the princess from the first game?
5 years ago
tootie_kicks wrote
How is it any different to the previous trilogy, where you could (usually) rewind time to prevent your death? Seeing as they aren't doing the time mechanic anymore, they had to change the rewind thing, and now it's been embodied in an AI character.
You were limited with the sands of time, as if you used it to get out of a sticky situation in fights or so, you don't have as many chances when you're running through traps. It was balanced in this regard where you reward your own patience and timing through avoiding the use of the sands - though it was there as a fallback in case you were having trouble with an area, etc. That was the brilliance of it anywho.

This new Prince just lets you freely survive anything without any effort. It's too friendly in the sense that there's no real feeling of victory once you've traversed some deadly acrobatic stunts. Anyone can do it, because regardless of you mucking up, you're going to get a free try again and again.
5 years ago
i like it actually.

currently playing Uncharted, and even the 5 second fade to grey and reset method of dealing with character death is frustrating.

i mean, sure, mechanically there's no difference between greying out, and a hand reaching and grabbing ahold of you, so really it's a matter of perception. (and i also realise that the "hand of fate" save move wouldn't fit in Uncharted, it's just what i'm playing now, and what i've noticed.)
5 years ago
I like it, as it keeps the game fluid, which is what you want in a free running-eque game. Sure it makes for simpler play however there are deterants to dying (eg die less than 100 times, and that is NOTHING if you have played the game) and later in the game free running spots get harder and harder and you could go minutes without hitting a flat surface or getting a 'checkpoint' as such
5 years ago
i didn't like the 'hand of fate' thing. in fact, i didn't like the game as a whole.
To me, there never really felt like a consequence to 'dying' (unless your after Achievements/Trophies), and since its kind of removes the 'Woops, you failed' feeling you'd normaly get from a short reset or death screen. I'd have liked it a whole lot better if Elika showed some signs of physical excertion from using her abilities, where she would need a few seconds just standing still or talking to 'the prince' to get her energy back up. But then, how do you display that on a near HUD less game? I suppose they could do it like they have your health in the combat, turning the enviroments around the characters greyscale.

I watched Yahtzee's review for the game the other day, and i'd probably agree with that more the review posted here. I think the game just rubbed me the wroung way.
I can understand why so many people like it, but it just didnt feel right to me.
5 years ago
The screenshots are nice - pity you cant keep the camera like that while playing. Prepare to see more stone wall and less Persian vista. The death mechanic never bothered me. The Prince's one liners and 'Rat in Maze' gameplay did.
5 years ago
Dopp, should I buy, yes or no? Your answer will determine what I do. And no I won't hold it against you if I really hate it. I gotta own those graphics thou..
5 years ago
jedi022 wrote
Jeremy wrote
somewhat reflects the famous sci-fi rogue, Hans Solo.
Thats Han Jeremy. I thought I taught you better icon_razz.gif .
Hahaha, reminded me of this this See 2:45.
5 years ago
Worst ending EVER!!! Seriously this has got to be the worst ending in a game, just looking at the cover makes me angry now. Great game however the ending leaves me with no desire to play the game ever again. Anyone else feel like this?
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  4/12/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $109.95 AU
Publisher:
  UBI Soft
Genre:
  Adventure
Year Made:
  2008

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