The Prince of Persia series has taken many twists and turns from its early beginnings on the NES. After Ubisoft’s fantastic début of the ‘The Sands of Time’ saga, and a subsequently thrilling trilogy, the series was given a fresh lick of paint, and relaunched as a cell-shaded, fluid, platforming game that stripped away the revered time control ability, and replaced it with a magical female partner. To coincide with the release of ‘The Sands of Time’ movie, Ubisoft have returned to their roots with an ‘interquel’ between ‘The Sands of Time’ and ‘Warrior Within’. But can the game compare to its lofty predecessors, or was it rushed to coincide with the film?
The game begins with the Prince traveling to meet his older brother, Maliq, only to find the palace besieged by an enemy army. Through the opening level you learn the basic acrobatic and combat controls as you try to meet up with Maliq. But before you can stop him, Maliq unleashes a powerful sand army in an attempt to repel the conquering invaders, that – predictably – turns out to be evil.
The story continues to unfold as you battle a mixture of sand monsters, brave various traps, and pull on an assortment of bizarrely placed levers and pulleys as you traverse the palace and try to reunite the two pieces of a legendary medallion and so defeat the demon horde. The pace builds gradually, perhaps too slowly – with the first few hours seeming more like an extended tutorial – but as you receive more powers and abilities the game picks up.
The first ability bestowed upon you by the djinni Razia is the classic time control ability that is synonymous with the franchise, allowing you to rewind the game the last 15 or so seconds. The technique of time control once again helps place the series above contemporary third-person platformers, with the frustration of a mistimed jump or an untimely fall quickly rectified by simply back-tracking a few seconds. Of course, the ability is limited, with each use of the rewind taking a blue orb, but these are easily replenished by smashing vases and pottery until they yield both health and power.
As you learn more abilities the game improves significantly, with the first being the power to solidify water – thus being able to climb spouts of water, or run up waterfalls. This ability, coupled with others, such as the power to recall pieces of the palace that once existed, allows for the player to string together the Prince’s powers and effectively navigate the game’s high altitude terrain in an enjoyable manner.
Mainly set in Maliq’s palace, much of the scenery is repeated, or rather similar, but the visuals are lush and beautiful, capturing the sense of grand Persian architecture at its finest. The return to the more realistic approach of the ‘The Sands of Time’ saga pays off, as it shows a detail and visual scope that 2008’s artistic Prince of Persia could not match.
The return to the classic Prince of Persia graphical style is not the only way in which the game mirror’s the previous titles, in fact, much of the game seems like lost scenes from ‘The Sands of Time’, and other levels seem nearly identical to the older games.
Sticking closely to the previous Prince of Persia titles is no bad thing, with much of the best attributes of the series brought to light in this sequel. But ‘The Forgotten Sands’ also seems to inherit the series’ less-than-stellar combat system, with the latest foray by the Prince having the worst combat of the franchise. While being able to fight 50 enemies at once may seem enticing, the core of the fighting relies on repeated hacking and slashing. While the action is spiced up by additional powers that can create whirlwinds or cause icy spikes to shoot from the floor, there is little enjoyment to be found in the tedious swordfights or boss battles, with the core of the game definitely being its platforming aspects.
Many will miss the bold revamp that the Prince of Persia series undertook over a year ago, but to fans of the classic series, as well as to newcomers, the platforming aspect is terrific, albeit a little slow to start off with. What holds the game back from being a truly stellar title is its dreadful combat system, as well as its lack of originality.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Classic Prince of Persia platforming
Lack of originality