, 2008-2009

Prince of Persia - Review
By Dillon - December 24, 2008

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360

Visuals: 9.2
Audio: 8.8
Story: 8.4
Gameplay: 9.0
Entertainment Value: 8.6
Overall: 9.1

She's a good donkey...

With a new generation of hardware comes a new generation of Ubisoft Montreal's Prince of Persia series. Gone are the Sands of Time, replaced with a beautiful and mysterious woman with mystical powers that aid the new Prince on his journey. The new world of Prince is a much larger and fantastical one, with a much more defining art style. The musical score will help immerse you into this world and the vocal cast delivers their lines well. The gameplay will be somewhat familiar to fans of the previous trilogy but with some obvious and controversial changes.

The Sands of Time trilogy always had a sort of stylized realism look to it so one glance at the new Prince may throw off some. Instead of going for a realistic look the team at Ubisoft Montreal has created a new visual style that can be best described as a moving painting. Pictures of the game may look good, but seeing it in motion is something a picture cannot convey. Living beauty. Everything from the huge sprawling environments to the detailed character models look outstanding.

The world is epic indeed.

Now, looking great is one thing, but moving great is another. The animations are silky smooth with almost no awkward transitions from movement to movement, something obviously borrowed from the Assassin's Creed engine. The framerate is good with only a few hitches here and there. The texture work is very well done and the draw distance is something to marvel at. Taken in as a whole, the visuals in Prince of Persia are something to appreciate and remember.

So the new Prince looks fantastic, but how does it sound? The sound effects are about as good as you'd want them to be. Climbing a mountain sounds like your climbing a mountain, Swords clashing sound... well you get the idea, nothing incredible but everything works fine. The voice acting is done fairly well with the talent of Nolan North (Drake from Uncharted: Drake's Fortune) as the Prince. He and all the other voice actors deliver their lines in a fitting fashion, although some of the dialogue could have been worked on.

What truly stands out here is the music. The original score's from composers such as Inon Zur and Stuart Charwood are both brilliant and evocative. I found myself stopping to hear the music on more than one occasion. All these elements combined make for one rich and admirable audio experience. However, in my time with the game there seemed to be an audio glitch where the music would cut out for about a second every so often. It won't ruin the experience but it's still very noticeable.

The story was a strong point in the Sands trilogy and while the new tale can feel a little disappointing compared to the Prince's last generation outing, it's still a gratifying one. The concept is very simple, and by simple I mean very Okami, and by Okami I mean very, "The world had plunged into darkness and it's up to you to return it to its former beauty". This idea worked extremely well for last-gen's Okami, and it still works favorably here.

Beautiful, magical and combat-orientated? The Prince's perfect woman.

The journey begins as our hero is lost in a sandstorm, searching for his lost donkey. As fate would have it he soon stumbles across a gorgeous woman named Elika who seems to be in trouble. Naturally, the Prince, being the dashing knight in shining armor he is, decides to help her. However, the problem she faces is not quite what he anticipates. From here on out you are set off to purge the land of an ever-growing evil and restore peace and tranquility to the land. The story is a commendable one that will absolutely keep you playing to find out if the Prince really does become the Prince of Persia.

The gameplay in Prince of Persia consists of two main elements, platforming and combat, just like in the Sands trilogy. Both of these aspects however, have changed drastically. The platforming is less of a hands-on ordeal and more about precise timing. Some will be put off by this new play style as it can feel as though you're not doing a lot of the work, however I still found it rewarding. The timing needed to execute some moves is no easy task and with drawn out lines of acrobatics you need to be on your toes at all times. Of course, with your lovely partner Elika by your side you can never die from missing a jump, and to me, her mechanic makes perfect sense. When you do misjudge a leap Elika will reach out and bring you back to the nearest safe spot. Some may feel this takes the challenge out of the game, but I think it's just a seamless replacement for a checkpoint system. Had you died, you would just wait for a load to pop you back to a checkpoint, but with Elika you can continue the game without any interruptions.

I'd tell him not to look down but I think he's got that covered.

The combat this time around is more focused and intense. You will never face off against more than one enemy at a time; instead you will fight one foe whose skills match your own. The combat system itself has been reworked so that newcomers to the series can perform some pretty cool moves but experts can accomplish some stunning combos. You control the Prince's sword, claw, and acrobatic attacks with three of the face buttons, and Elika with the fourth. You can string these buttons together to pull of some crazy stunts. There are a ton of combos to discover so the combat always feels fresh. Since you only fight one enemy at a time the camera can get into some engaging and tight positions that help give the game a cinematic feel.

The game world is broken into five areas, one central hub and four vast chunks to explore and revive. There is a map system that shows you where you are and where you want to be. During gameplay you can have Elika guide your way which works well and keeps you from ever getting lost. When you first visit an area the surroundings are dark and bleak with little color. You must get Elika to a healing ground in order for her restore the land and break it of the surrounding darkness. Not only are these healing moments beautiful to watch, but they also reveal light seeds. These little balls of light appear for you to collect after you've healed an area. A certain amount of seeds are required to move on in the game but for the collective types there are 1001 in total to find. This defiantly adds to the play time and it can lead to the discovery of new areas previously left untouched.

You can call me Sly. Sly Coo-...

Entertainment Value
Prince of Persia will last a good while depending on how you play. If you just want to rush through the game to see the finale you can complete it in just under 10 hours. If you want to collect all the light seeds it can last you more than 14 hours. Either way you're getting a lot of game by today's standards. The platforming is enjoyable and the combat is wonderful. The visual style and alluring score will entice you to complete the intriguing story. This new Prince is definitely not for everyone. If you want a steep challenge to conquer then you may find this Prince to be on the easy side. If you're looking for a beautiful, stirring, and entertaining journey, then sit back and enjoy the wall-running, sword fighting, world saving adventure.

Visuals: 9.2 - Running on the already fantastic Assassin's Creed engine, the art style adds a whole new layer of beauty.
Audio: 8.8 - The voice acting and sound effects are both generally good, but the original score is simply outstanding.
Story: 8.4 - The kindergarten love/hate relationship with the Prince and Elika works well and the conclusion is satisfying and unpredictable if a bit unorthodox.
Gameplay: 9.0 - The platforming is smooth and fun with Elika acting as a seamless checkpoint system, and the combat feels fresh and engaging.
Entertainment Value: 8.6 - The game will clock in at around 10-14 hours depending on how much time you spend collecting light seeds. The game lacks challenge but makes up for it with a rich and engaging world to explore and learn about.
Overall: 9.1 - Excellent

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