When Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was released in 2003, it was hailed as nothing short of a masterpiece. The modern-day retooling of one of the biggest franchises of gaming’s golden age received immense critical acclaim, and game of the year awards for its inventive control scheme, stunning visuals and revolutionary gameplay controls.
Naturally, the success of Sands of Time paved the way for two sequels; Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within and Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. Sadly, the sequels were similar in name alone, and seemed to focus more on blood, gore and button mashing combat than any of the elements that made Sands of Time so special.
Dec. 9, 2008
When Ubisoft Montreal decided to revamp the series completely, it took on an immense challenge — create a new Prince of Persia title that went back to the series’ roots, yet was good enough to make players forget about The Sands of Time.
They succeeded — for the most part.
The newest chapter in the Prince of Persia series is a fun, innovative and rewarding experience that nods back to the franchises early days, yet takes a big step towards rewriting the rules of the entire platformer genre. Sadly though, a few slight hiccups in the design of the Prince’s world will hinder its chances of joining the ranks of The Sands of Time.
More often than not when developers use cell shading for their titles, the ends result comes off as little more than a hokey gimmick, but in the case of PoP, it works, and it works well. From the start, the developers wanted to make players feel like they were in a storybook throughout the entire PoP experience, which the cell shading achieves tremendously. The incredibly detailed characters stand out well against the vibrant backgrounds. Incredibly, as you progress, the game’s visuals only get more stunning — playing through each completed area brings new life, and new color to an already vibrant landscape. Prince of Persia has every right to be considered along with Fallout 3 and Metal Gear Solid 4 as one of the year’s best looking games.
Unlike the two most recent sequels, PoP is less about combat, and more about platforming, though it’s unlike any platformer you’ve ever played. Though you’ll be doing plenty of running and jumping, thanks to a few minor gameplay tweaks, it feels so different than anything you’ve played before. PoP is not about jumping to one ledge, slowing down and looking for your next platform, like Mirror’s Edge earlier this year, you’ll have a much more rewarding experience if you’re able to keep the Prince in a constant state of motion. Each world is setup so players are able to string together lengthy combinations of acrobatic maneuvers (it doesn’t hurt that most of the animations are simply phenomenal) to advance through them. There is a definite rhythm to PoP’s gameplay, and when you actually take a step back, and allow yourself to move along with it, the feeling is incredibly rewarding.