[This was originally a review/rant about the game I posted on a forum when the game was released. I’m archiving (read: dumping) these in the blog. It was written well before DLC and before Ubisoft seemed to disown this re-imagining.]
Alright, first off the bat: the game looks amazing. The art style (although the Prince’s muscles bug me more than they should) and the graphics are pretty superb. The first moment you step onto the plains before the temple at the start is just breathtaking, as is the spectacular healing of the fertile lands. With Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry 2 before it, Ubisoft had proven themselves to be some of the kings of console graphics.
Unfortunately, that’s not the last time it compares to Assassin’s Creed.
See, one of the things that bugged me in double-ass-in’s Creed was the amount of time you spent in dark, grey cities instead of the interesting one or the gorgeous countryside…And you spend even more time in dark, grey places in Prince of Persia. It makes sense in the context, but it’s a waste of what the game has to offer.
The gameplay is good fun, up until about you cleanse about two of the bosses. Then repetition really starts to set in. There’s freakishly little change in the gameplay. You get one or two new powers (most of which do the same thing and half of them consist of just pressing triangle when you reach a ‘power pad’) but you’re using the same rings, rafters, ledges, poles, vines and facing the same obstacles ALL the way through.
A lot of platforming frustration is taken away by the fact you respawn to the last place you were standing if you ‘die’. Despite what some say, I’d argue this was a good thing as ‘punishing’ the player with harsh checkpoints has never made sense. Unfortunately, a lot of sections have you bouncing and gripping and powering around for long stretches of time without a ledge to stand on, so not being able to see a ring or know you were meant to turn right here can lead to some irritation. In fact, a lot of the times you die, it’s because the Prince jumped off a wall to his doom instead of running across it, or because Elika threw him in the wrong direction. This may be due to games platforming being overly automatic. More so than in Assassin’s Creed. Even the basic jump has a similar feel. The inconsistency of what falls you can survive and what jumps you can make leads to surprisingly linearity.
The lack of reward for the collectable light seeds is really bad design. Backtracking to get more on the rare occasions when you do need them was annoying as well.
The combat gets extremely repetitive. All but the fights (except one of the bosses) come down to “hit them until they die”, a process that always takes far too long. This is compounded by the way you can’t die – if your health runs out, Elika saves you immediately and the boss regenerates some (sometimes a lot) of their health. The game tries to switch it up by having you hit them in a slightly different way – this just plain doesn’t work. The quick time events in the game are pretty much all defensive and not used brilliantly. You also have to wonder whose strange idea it was to make the acrobatic protagonist’s movement in combat seem as slow as the development of Duke Nukem Forever. Sorry, I exaggerate there.
The earliest and shortest fights can make you feel like a total badass, but unfortunately this does not continue for long.
The story…Well, this is an interesting one. There’s a dodgy not-too-detailed story about a war between light and dark. (Oh, the originality!) It’s passable. There’s one interesting twist. But what I did really like was the Prince and Elika’s relationship. The dialogue between them in entertaining and fairly comical. Despite the questionable American accents and how modern the Prince sounds, I found it worked quite well. Accents aside, the voice acting is good quality as well. The optional conversations are a really nice touch, but it would be nice if you could do your platforming while listening to them (or Elika’s descriptions of places, for that matter), it might have been a hassle to program any potential interruptions, but it would just be better.
Then on the other hand, the ending…It is excrement. The twist of the stupid knife is that the name of the ending achievement/trophy is “To be continued”. (Spoiler comments on the story can be found at the bottom of the page for those who played the game, or those who will wisely skip the game)
It was exceptionally glitchy for me. I don’t know whether it was the disc, my PS3, the PS3 version or the game in general, but I had a ton of small glitches. Music stopping and starting. Light seeds hanging frozen in the air after collecting them. Platforms flashing in and out of sight. A couple of…Sort of, freezes.
The soundtrack features at least one really good track, the rest are fairly good but totally forgettable.
There are some nice touches noticeable at the beginning with animation or the change to echoed voices when you enter the temple…But there are more flaws in this regard. The Prince’s sword floating on his hip, his arm looking mutant when bent, the light/darkness is not so seamless near the end, etc.
Overall, it was a big disappointment. A lot like Assassin’s Creed. Maybe almost possibly worth renting or borrowing for the views and the early experience. But I couldn’t really recommend it.
It’s odd that there is no reason for this game to be called Prince of Persia.
But the major bone of contention is that what the “Prince” did in the ending was just corny and stupid on so many levels. The way it was out of player control was downright distressing. It would’ve been a much better ending had he wandered off alone leaving her at the altar, rather than going against everything her character was, everything the game had set up and undoing everything the player had accomplished. Maybe he could have just found his donkey instead.
And two sets of the same credits? Really?