UbiSoft
UbiSoft
Adventure
1
11.11.03

Prince of Persia


Back in 1989, Broderbund software surprised everyone when they released Prince of Persia, a side-scrolling action-adventure-puzzle game, available on multiple platforms. The animation in PoP was second-to-none; barely any other software title was even close in terms of graphics. Although somewhat repetitive, the game captivated players with its unbelievable atmosphere. As years went by, a few more PoP titles were released, but none truly lived up to the original. That is, until 2003 brought Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Gameplay

Although significantly different than its successor, The Sands of Time follows the basic concept. It's a puzzle game at its core, but blends in a perfect amount of action-adventure to keep you glued to the controller. You play as the Prince of Persia (who would have thought?) who is deceivingly led by the neighborhood sultan to unleash the ever-so-deadly sands of time. You meet a woman who says she can help you on your quest… so the story begins. Although it seems like a typical story while playing the game, you're in for a surprise at the end.

Don't bother scouring the manual for controls before you start; the game teaches you everything you need to know as you begin to walk across walls and swing from just about everything you can get your hands on. This is what you'll be doing a good 50% of the game; PoP's focus is discovering paths not normally tread on. Everything flows perfectly… you'll find yourself jumping around like an Olympic gymnast before you know it. Some puzzles get fairly difficult, but what's wrong with that? It's very rewarding once you notice that one post you should have swung from to get to where you need to be.

And what if you do miss that post and begin to fall to a horrible painful death? You have the ability to use your dagger of time, a device that can reverse or slow down time, allowing you a few attempts to fix what you've done. This comes in handy a lot later in the game, when you come across some of the tougher puzzles.

The Prince also has numerous attacks at disposal, and the camera is set up to zoom in and capture the action, without disturbing your control over the fight. You'll upgrade your sword at numerous points in the game, with the final one being the best of them all. It would have been great if the programmers added this as a reward for completing the game, but unfortunately this hasn't been made available.

One thing missing from the game is boss fights. It's been rumored that bosses were planned for the final game, but were scrapped due to time constraints and a Christmas release. As you progress through the game, your typical enemies do begin to become more difficult, but the game could really benefit from some creative boss designs at the end of each level.

Graphics

PoP really shines graphically, and is a great example of what the system can pull off. From the moment you turn on the game, you are drawn in to the atmosphere of the game, which isn't unlike the original. Certain areas are just completely jaw-dropping; many times you'll catch yourself taking a break to look at everything around you. Every once in awhile in the extremely graphics-intensive areas, the game engine's frame-rate will drop; but it's never enough to distract from the game. PoP is an extremely polished game, and it will not disappoint even the most picky graphics junkie.

Sound

UbiSoft hasn't skimped on the audio in PoP either. You'll feel like you're right in the action as cannon balls blow into walls nearby, and you can almost feel the water on your feet as you wade through it. The original soundtrack fits the game perfectly; the artists have blended a perfect mix of rock riffs, techno, and cultural voice and instrument elements that feel right at home.

Replay Value

This is where PoP sort of stumbles on its own feet. It seems like so much time was put into level, character, and sound design, it didn't leave very much room for length. The game can typically be beaten in right around 10 hours, but it is definitely worth a second play. The phrase 'Quality over Quantity' definitely applies to this game. Although the game is over fairly quickly, the story is still told perfectly and you really don't feel like you were jipped out of your $50.

Once you have completed the game, you have the ability to play through a remake of the original PoP, which is a plus due to how short the game is. Fans of the original will find themselves just as addicted to this little extra as much as the new title.

Bottom Line:

Every once in awhile, a game comes along that you can't miss out on. The Sands of Time is one of those games. The story is completely satisfying, the graphics are amazing, the gameplay and sound are near perfect, and the atmosphere is like no other. Sure, the game has a couple flaws, but it's nothing that you can't look forward to in the next installment of PoP. Some people may not choose to buy it due to its short gameplay time, but these people should at least rent the game to play through it. For people like myself that like to build a good collection of solid titles, this is a must-have.

Related Links:

Official Prince of Persia Website

-Greg Cooper




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